So, I visited a little independent Tapas bar in the cool and creative Hockley area of Nottingham for lunch with an old friend and former colleague this week. We like a drink, so our lunches are usually long, chatty and, yes, boozy.
I had heard a lot about the Tapastry, not all of it totally glowing, but I like to support independents and thought it sounded good enough to try. I love Hockley, always have, since my punk rock days where, living in rural Lincolnshire, Hockley was the nearest cool place and the only place for a 100 miles you could find pink “crazy colour” hair dye. Suffice to say, my mother didn’t share my passion for Hockley. It is still a pretty cool place, and is now officially and municipally endorsed “cool” as the designated Creative Quarter of the city. It is still fantastic, and is now also home to some wonderful independent restuarants and cafes, a fair few of which are on my “to eat at” list.
So, anyway, enough preamble. We met at the Tapastry on an autumnal Tuesday lunchtime. Right on the edge of Hockley, I loved the look of this little place. As soon as I walked in, I was transported to a 150 yr old town house in Marbella Old Town, where I watched some amazing Flamenco dancing one drunken weekend. The Tapastry does feel as if it isn’t trying too hard and you could well be sitting a Spanish front room. A good start.
We sat at a window table with those cool, farm-like/industrial stools. These stools have no footrests and are very slippy. I ate my meal with all muscles clenched to avoid sliding off… this is an age thing I think. I am sure a younger bottom would have coped better.
To start with we orded Kikones – fried and salted corn kernals (not to be confused with cojones, obvs). These are very traditional Spanish bar snacks and have a sort of pleasant rock-hard Puffed Rice-type appeal. However, I actually have only two teeth in my mouth that I trusted might be strong enough to bite these, and my fear of losing a crown, a filling or an entire tooth meant that I ate only 3, my friend had 2. Is this just our age??
Our tapas were:-
Confit of Pork Belly, Apple, Lyonnaise Potatoes and Jus. These were completely lovely. The belly pork was crispy on top and meltingly delicious underneath. The apple was tart and complemented it perfectly. The potatoes were only just warm, which I know is not unusual for Med food, they could have been warmer, but the pork couldn’t have better. This was the stand out dish for me.
Rabbit and Chickpea Guiso. We liked this, but we didn’t love it, if I am being dead picky, the chickpeas were a bit hard, but the Rabbit was lovely and tender and not too strong.
The Aubergine Tumbet was nice, the Patatas Bravas were nice – not served as I expected (and my friend described them as “Chips with a spicy dip”), the “dip” was nicely spicy though – (home-made?) and we did eat the lot. But, “nice” probably covers it.
Not so traditional, (and why not) – we totally loved these Devon Crab Croquettes, they were served hot and they were huge (they did look a bit like cojones, bulls, probably). Delicious, lovely robust balance of white and brown meat (at least it seemed so in that it wasn’t too strong which they usually are if you deep fry brown crab meat)
Our sweet was on the House, we were stuffed (6 generous tapas dishes is enough for two for lunch) but we forced ourselves…. The sugar-glazed, orange Crema Catalana was absolutely wonderful, the Churros with chocolate sauce were ever so slightly on the oily side – but I forced them down nontheless ;-).
We enjoyed our lunch at the Tapastry. I love the setting and the low-key Spanish interior. I am sure, when busy, the atmosphere is lovely – on this Autumn lunchtime, we were the only two customers in for the entire service – but the owner tells us they are busy in the evenings and I am sure they are.
I do have one moan. We like a drink, and wine starts at around £19 a bottle. I work in this industry, I know the mark-up on this wine, and I know why small restuarants need to make money on the booze…………..but, this is prohibitive for a small, local cafe/restuarant. We chose a bottle of red that was just over £20, it was nice, but that is a lot for weekday lunch bottle of vino and we therefore only had one. In fact, the price of the wine is enough to put me off returning, and that is a real shame. Not all the dishes were en pointe as they say, but we enjoyed our lunch and I would return, but not with wine at that price I’m afraid.
Would I recommend a visit, yes I suggest you give it a go, support Matt Longfoot, the chef and owner. I really want this place to succeed but please, can we have a couple of cheaper bottles of wine, so I can enjoy the Spanish vibe and get quietly sloshed as well?