|Tasty Tapas On The Terrace|
Emma Brophy discovers a delicious new way of dining at Charlotte's Bistro
I’m good at sharing; being one of five children I’ve never really had a choice. However, I discovered in adult life that there are different types of sharers, those who are fair and those who just pretend to be. The worst are the faux food sharers with their ‘oh no I couldn’t possiblies’ rapidly followed by their ‘oh go on then’ as they take the last olive or, especially galling, the delicious crispy chip you’d been saving for last.
Sharing food always reminds me of a story my husband tells about his Grandmother. When out with a friend for afternoon she was offered a plate with two slices of cake one larger than the other. She took the largest prompting her friend to declare her behaviour rather rude. “Really?” came Grandma’s reply. “Which one would you have taken?” “I would have taken the smaller slice,” responded her friend. “Well I don’t understand your problem then, that’s the one you’ve got.”
Grandma's wisdom doesn't quite cut it with the younger generation as I know only too well. As a mother of three I am an expert at dividing anything and everything into perfectly equal thirds and as such make a good dining companion when it comes to sharing platters and, my current favourite way of eating out, tapas.
Not an obvious location to find tapas I grant you but that’s exactly what I discovered at Charlotte’s Bistro. Instead of the more traditional bar menu, Alex has introduced a number of small plates which make for a perfect lunch – especially with a glass of sherry – or a light meal in the evening at the bar.
I took a friend, who is particularly partial to a sharing platter, to Charlotte’s as a birthday treat. We perched at the bar, a perfect vantage point for people watching, and deliberated over the tapas menu.
I will admit that one of the reasons I decided to treat this particular friend to tapas at Charlotte's is that she’s my kind of sharer. She will order what she wants to eat not one of those who pretend they never eat chips and then end up scoffing half my portion.
A tough decision which took quite some time but eventually we ordered crisp beef (note for those like me with a wheat intolerance Charlotte’s uses cornflour hurray!) tomato bruschetta, dolmades, chillies stuffed with feta and crisp chunky chips with aioli.
Other delights we saved for another day included boquerones en vinagre, deep fried whitebait with tartare sauce and crab and celeriac tian with brown crab mayonnaise (also available as a starter in the main restaurant a joy to savour). A sample menu can be found here.
To drink with had a glass each of South African Chenin Blanc (Charlotte’s has an extensive list of wines by the glass) and managed to get through two bottles of their complimentary filtered water.
Two coffees to finish brought the bill to£34.31 including service which we both agreed was impeccable.
The tapas menu proved a great alternative to a set lunch, especially in the warmer weather. In truth the amount we ordered was a little too much – eyes bigger than our stomachs! – but we did finish everything fairly.