When Grand Central opened in Birmingham, along with it came a load of new eateries.
Yeah yeah, they’re chains, but as we’ve discussed before, I don’t think that necessarily means they don’t have their place among their fellow eateries. I had a fun meal at Yo! Sushi the other week so I hoped that Tapas Revolution would be equally enjoyable.
It’s the brainchild of Spanish chef Omar Allibhoy who – according to the Tapas Revolution website – is apparently on a mission to bring Spanish food and its culture to the UK.
Don’t worry, I’m not so naive that I don’t know it’s pretty much impossible to transport Spain to the middle of Birmingham, especially in December. Still, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be able to get some half-decent tapas along with the fun that a jug of sangria can bring, does it?
So, on a fun Friday night out my pals and I headed there for a bit of both.
It was, my friends, a meal of two halves. Some parts were fab, others a bit disappointing. Not horrible, just rather unremarkable. And yet some of their counterparts were really rather nice. Like the deep-fried cod and bechamel croquettes, which were so good we ordered a second portion. Creamy smooth filling, packed with cod, encased in a crisp golden breadcrumbs with wonderfully garlicky alioli to dip them into.
Equally tasty was the crispy pork belly with sweet and spicy sauce. Nicely presented in easy-to-eat cubes, with plenty of tender meat on them as well as the obligatory melt-in-the-mouth fat and crunchy crackling.
In contrast, the patatas bravas – usually an easy, tasty tapas staple – were a bit plain and boring. Fairly dry chunks of fried potato with some sauces dribbled over the top. The ‘spicy’ tomato sauce was fine, but not particularly write-home-about.
The tortilla with potato and onion didn’t look up to much, but tasted great. Simple, but light, fluffy and really tasty. I thought that a plain potato and onion tortilla might be a bit boring, but it was the opposite and full of interesting flavour. Unfortunately another Spanish favourite, Paella Valenciana, was the opposite. Lacking in seasoning and, quite frankly, a bit bland and boring.
The meat eaters among us (two of our trio) had smacked our lips at the prospect of chorizo roasted in cider, but again it just wasn’t all that. It looked great but didn’t live up to its appearance. I can’t even put my finger on why, maybe the lack of piquancy that comes from the smoked paprika that chorizo is usually seasoned with.
Again, gambas cooked in garlic and chilli oil were pleasant enough but lacked that punch that I expected to transport my tastebuds to a warm evening in Barcelona, even if I couldn’t be there myself.
Piquillo peppers stuffed with mushroom didn’t look great when they came out. They tasted slightly better than they looked, with the sweetness of the peppers and tomato sauce coming through, but the filling wasn’t that great, a kind of texture-less mushroom mush.
The deep-fried calamari, on the other hand, was good. While it’s quite a simple dish and relatively easy to cook, it’s equally easy to cook badly and so often you’re presented with rings of tasteless rubber coasted in greasy batter. Fortunately, this wasn’t so – tender calamari, light clean crispy batter. Very enjoyable.
And so you’ll see what I mean. A meal of two halves. Some dishes so good you couldn’t help but want more, and others a bit disappointing.
Fair enough, it was pretty late on a busy Friday night, and given that some dishes were great, I’m happy to give Tapas Revolution the benefit of the doubt and try again.
Plus, the service was really good too. Friendly and efficient with nothing too much trouble, including getting us the second portion of cod croquettes despite it being just after the kitchen’s closure time.
Needless to say, I’m not saying Tapas Revolution is a perfect replacement for its traditional Spanish relatives. But it’s not half bad and is another welcome addition to Birmingham’s stable of eateries.
We paid in full for our meal at Tapas Revolution. They didn’t know I was a blogger.