*Originally written for Melan Magazine.
Found everywhere in Spain, a chiringuito is an all-day beachfront bar and restaurant which serves tapas and drinks. This August, London’s very first Chiringuito-inspired restaurant opened, and we were invited along on opening night to sample the vast array of affordable Spanish and Latin American traditional flavours.
Just a minute away from Bethnal Green station, the restaurant and bar, headed up by Peruvian chef Marco Padilla, takes its design cues from traditional Chiringuitos, featuring azure mosaic tiles and a peseta-topped bar. The new restaurant has two main seating areas, consisting of a patio, and a rooftop seating area, one of the key highlights of the restaurant. Overlooking the Museum Gardens, the rooftop area is decorated with hints of cream and mahogany brown coloured furniture, with ivory-coloured seats, that not only brighten up the roof top, but helps to add a dash of luxury and to the overall ambiance.
What’s on the menu?
Food and drinks-wise, we were spoilt for choice, with classic tapas dishes including patatas and ceviche. The drinks menu is equally impressive. You can expect a wide selection of drinks from red and white wines to custom made cocktails to classics including Sangria and the Espresso Martini.
We selflessly sampled a wide variety of the food and drink on offer and highlight some of our favourites below.
The Frozen Maracuya Margarita: If you enjoy passionfruit then this is the cocktail for you. One could describe this drink as the less aggressive version of a Pornstar Martini, simply because of its subtler sweet and tangy flavours. This cocktail gets the balance right between the tartness and sweetness of the drink.
The Lolea Sangria: This drink is a twist on the classic fruit infused Spanish beverage, presenting both red and white wine versions, which are both infused with fruits including oranges, strawberries and lime. Overall, the Sangrias were very tasty, aromatic and subtle in its alcohol content. If you particularly do not like the bitterness and lack of sweetness in wine, then these are great options for you, as they are watered-down versions.
San Clements Spritz: You like a glass of Spritz, but you want to be a little more adventurous? Look no further as a Grapefruit (yes Grapefruit) flavoured Spritz is available. This option is an acquired taste, it is more suited for those who prefer cocktails with a slightly more bitter taste.
Espresso Martini: This is one of the more classic cocktails on offer. The vodka, coffee infused drink is intense in the right places. The cocktail perfectly intertwines the earthiness from the coffee, and the bitterness from the vodka, without tasting the distinct taste of the alcohol. Together, the flavours create an explosion that will bring you back to life after a long day at work.
Pulpo a la Gallega: Now, if there had to be a winning dish, it would have to be the grilled octopus. Cooked to perfection, the octopus is brought to another level by the charred smoky flavour from the grilling method. Octopus, like most seafoods, can easily be overcooked, however for Chef Marco Padilla and his team, this was not the case.
Seabass Ceviche: For the more adventurous, the classic Peruvian delicacy, is served in Leche del Tigre (a lime-based sauce) and is a citrusy party on your taste buds. It may not be the dish for you if you are not a true fan of fish, however, the sourness from the Leche del Tigre helps to neutralise the aroma of raw fish. We particularly liked the contrast of the sweet potatoes which worked incredibly well with the sauce. For vegetarians and vegans, there is also the Quinoa ceviche.
Roast Aubergine with vegan cheese, peppers, tomato, onion and roast chilli (V): This dish helps you understand the increasing hype around the ever so versatile aubergine. Vegetarians and vegans are in for a treat with this one. Creamy, thick, light and satisfying, this dish is one of the best vegetarian options on offer at the restaurant. It is well flavoured, yet not too overwhelming – we highly recommend it!
Roast Pork Belly served on mashed root vegetables: This dish can often be a rather fatty affair, yet Chiringuito successfully managed to reduce the fat to meat ratio. One of the best dishes of the night, the meat was tender and moist, accompanied by the crispy fat crackling on the outside. The root vegetable mash was a nicer sweet alternative to the classic mash potato.
Pan con tomate (V): A crispy, thick slice of bread, accompanied with a raw tomato sauce. One of the simpler dishes for vegetarians, the sauce is subtle, yet bursting with flavour, with a hint of salt and garlic. The dish is served with three slices.
Patatas bravas (V): A simple, yet classic potato-based dish. Crispy on the outside, with a thick, fluffy interior, the dish is accompanied by a rich tomato puree, and is very moreish.
Chiringuito is an example of what happens when exploration, paired with a respect for culture, meets food. Keep up the good work.