On a recent London lunch date with my pal, we treated ourselves to a tapas-gorging session at Camino. The criteria for rendez-vous venue were: close to Euston and St Pancras; bookable for lunch; a place we could natter; and somewhere her gorgeous baby could have a snooze. There was plenty of choice, but we settled on this little slice of Spanish heaven.
With branches in London’s King’s Cross, Monument and Blackfriars, Camino is obviously doing something right. The first bar and restaurant opened in May 2007 by Richard Bigg who had spent 25 years travelling all over Spain, which maybe explains why it does a pretty good job of feeling authentic. The King’s Cross restaurant is tucked in a little courtyard, just minutes from the hustle and bustle of the station, yet surprisingly peaceful and relaxing. I imagine the courtyard is great in summer, but it was just a tiny bit too cold to sit outside when we went. The inside was bright and airy, yet with the right amount of bustle.
There’s a few different menus but it was the All Day Tapas that caught our eye. After all, this social way of eating is the perfect way to graze while catching up on months of gossip. My pal is a vegetarian so we opted for a huge sharing board of veggie tapas which proved to be the perfect amount to get a good taste of everything. I’m not a tapas expert, but the food at Camino certainly felt authentic. Obviously there were olives, but fat, juicy and sweet olives, just like the ones you get in Spain, flavoured with lemon zest, thyme and rosemary. Not those bitter, vinegary things from jars that appear at dodgy parties.
We tucked into thick slices of Tortilla de Patata, a Spanish potato tortilla; and Txigorki – baked bread with sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper and a huge slab of goat’s cheese, slightly browned under the grill. As a massive goat’s cheese fan, this went down a treat with me, and was a richer relative of the bruschetta-like Pan con Tomate – coca bread smothered on garlic, tomatoes, and extra virgin olive oil.
I particularly enjoyed the Arzua Frito – Galician cheese fritters with homemade tomato jam. The cheese was almost halloumi-like, with a slightly rubbery texture, encased in breadcrumbs.
But my real favourite, something I always go for if I see it on a menu, were the Pimientos de Padron. These small Galician green peppers are fried in olive oil then sprinkled with sea salt. The thing with these is you don’t know how hot each individual one is. They’re all sweet and sunshiney, but some pack a punch, knocking your socks off with their heat, while others are more demure. Either way, you can’t help but come back for more.
The picture doesn’t really do it justice, but for a fuss-free, affordable lunch in nice surroundings, Camino was great. The service was good, the food good quality, and the atmosphere just right for a long catch up with an old friend. Oh, and baby Charlie loved it (insofar as he slept all the way through it!)
For all of these reasons, I’d definitely go back – plus there’s a whole roasted Segovian style suckling pig on the menu that caught my eye.
What are your suggestions for a catch-up lunch spot? Any firm favourites?
We paid in full for our meal at Camino. They didn’t know I was a blogger.