One of the most frequently asked questions as a restaurant reviewer is which restaurant is your favourite in London? One of the top choices I often answer with is Encant on Maiden Lane. With their inventive, Spanish small plates offering, it has been winning over demanding London diners in the last few years.
Now their founder, Victor Garvey has opened up a new venture in the heart of Soho on Dean Street, called Rambla. The food is based on his childhood spent in Barcelona and named after the city’s most famous boulevard. It’s a sign of his success that the new restaurant is significantly larger than Encant with a maximum of 60 covers split across 2 floors.
The restaurant is dominated by their open kitchen which is a hive of culinary activity. If you want to see the chefs in action, then try and get a table on the counter with up-close views of the masters at work; although I would suggest wearing something casual unless you want your expensive 3-piece suit to smell of Spanish tapas.
The main section of the menu is divided into vegetarian, raw & cured, a meat section and a seafood section. We started off with a simple, yet effective cold roasted “Escalivada” arranged in colourful rows of tomato, aubergine, onion and red pepper with an appetising warm garlic vinaigrette. Spinach croquetas were perfectly golden and crispy. Whilst the baked nevat cheese is the pièce de résistance with the melting, smooth, milky gourmet cheese leaving a rich lingering taste in your mouth and served with crisp sourdough bread and crudités.
Somewhat better value is the braised oxtail canelones at £5 which also contains “Nevat” cream cheese compared to the previous dish which was £16. The dish was kept piping hot as it was served in a Staub casserole dish.
Cured salmon rulada almost had a slight Japanese touch in terms of its appearance. There were crispy potatoes to give the dish added crunch and onion escabeche to give the dish some acidity.
Make sure you save room for desserts as both offerings provide an interesting take on classic recipes: warm apricot and almond coulant and torrija, which is a Catalan style pain perdu with pistachio and raspberry.