Monday, 7 October 2013

Review: Fino in Fitzrovia

I first went to Fino two years ago with a very good friend and his dad. As regular customers they knew just what to order and the food was fantastic. So when I was invited there by a couple of friends on Friday night I resolved to get through my work as quickly as possible to join them. I was in one of those moods where nothing really mattered apart from having a good time. I ordered with my eyes and left feeling full to the point of nauseous. I don't regret it for a moment and am very happy to have tried such a huge array of dishes.

If the name rings a bell it may well be because it made it to the semi final's of Gordon Ramsay's 'Best Restaurant' TV show in 2010. I don't know about it being the best but it certainly is very good and consistent. My one criticism is that there are just too many things on the menu where you aren’t really sure what the dish is. Its nice for getting to know your waiter but annoying since there are too many to ask about (and there is no reception downstairs for Googling!). At the risk of exposing my own ignorance, here are some examples, morcilla iberica (black pudding), pluma iberica (pork shoulder), corvina (a type of fish), morcón iberico (a type of chorizo), mil hojas (mille-feuille), santiago tart (almond torte)… you get the picture… but hopefully this review will be useful reading to anyone wishing to go there!

With tapas it is often hard to know how much to order but I would aim for one of the para picar (small dishes) per person and two or three of the bigger dishes. We tried the crab and the ham croquetas and found the crab croquetas to be much better. They had a satisfying sort of lobster thermidor cheesiness to them whereas the ham had too much béchamel for me. The pimientos de padron were good as always and the potato and chorizo chips were nice but not really chips at all! They were more of a crispy chorizo spring roll.

The clams were, I think, the nicest dish we ate (hence the lack of photo - they smelt so good I got over excited, ate them and forgot!).  The pancetta wrapped squid was also delicious, perfectly done but a bit samey – we had one between two whereas I think one would easily serve four. Unfortunately  the 'crispy' pork belly was more chewy than crispy but the meat itself was tender. 

The pork shoulder with confit potatoes was good but not stand out and the black pudding and quails eggs was extremely overpowering. It was like black pudding chorizo with a very smoky farm yard smell and flavour. 

If you like tortillas Fino's are very good with totally liquid centres. They are extremely filling if you don't want to spend too much. The roast aubergine and prawns sounds delicious but again had way too much béchamel and was a little sickening. The crisp fried artichokes on the other hand were absolutely scrumptious. They were young, tender ones with just the right amount of crisp and a beautifully glossy aioli on the side. 

I also had the plate of manchego since I remembered that theirs is very good and it didn't disappoint. To finish we had the Santiago tart and mil hojas.  The Santiago tart is a bit of an acquired taste but the mil hojas were pretty good. I unfortunately forgot to take a picture again... (must think before I eat!)

We ate a lot and spent around £45 each including a very pleasant bottle of house red. You could definitely eat there for less though if you aren't feeling excessive.