Sunday, February 20, 2011

Opera Tavern, Covent Garden

I was meeting a friend after work for dinner and have yet to find a place. Thanks to London Eating who has saved me many a time, I learned that it was opening night for Opera Tavern and there is 50% off for the first week.

Opera Tavern is the third child for the Salt Yard Group after Salt Yard and Dehesa. Located right in Covent Garden, it serves a range of Italian and Spanish tapas. Opening night definitely seems like the perfect opportunity to try a range of what they have to offer.

It was fully booked at the usual eating hours but by the time I arrived with my friend for dinner, it was 9.30pm and getting a table was not a problem. We were seated upstairs which was a lot quieter. (This post is a culmination of both mine and my dining friend's).

Let's start with the ones that were enjoyed tremendously.

Wild Sea bass Carpaccio with Blood Orange and Capers £7.50

The blood orange adds a citrusy taste to the sea bass with added sweetness from the raisins and sauce. It was fresh, light and lovely.

Truffle Pecorino, Ewe's Milk, Tuscany £6

Made from Ewe's milk, this was served with honey and crackers. The cheese was creamy with hints of truffles with the honey being wild, earthy and unrefined. They complement each other really well and were simply divine.

Capocollo with Fennel, Calabria £4

Thin slices of cured meat. It was salty, fatty with a melt-in-your mouth texture.

Onto the other dishes that were decent.

Salt March Lamb Leg with Pumpkin Gnocchi, Salted Anchovies, Brown Butter and Mint £6.50

I am not a huge fan of gnocchi but these were awesome. We both started out loving this dish, but by the time we got to the end, it was all drowned in the taste of oil and butter. Hopefully in time they get the balance right.

Bitter Chocolate Fondant with Salted Pistachio Caramel and Milk Ice Cream £5.50

The chocolate fondant was oozingly melting in the middle but the rest of it was too cakey which let it down. Had they taken it out of the oven one minute earlier it might have been perfect.

Homemade Biscotti and Bitter Chocolate and Hazelnut Truffles with a glass of Vin Santo £8.85
Vin Santo 'Tegrino', Cantine Leonardo da Vinci 2004

It was great to see a dessert that came paired with a wine. This dessert wine was not the usual sticky sweet type but light with a hint of spice. If you're looking for bite sizes of rich chocolate decadence, from the truffles, these are not instead the biscotti which were meant to be light and crunchy was dense and too chocolaty according to my dinner friend, she didn't really enjoy this too much.

Grilled Scallop with Butternut Squash Puree, Shallot and Truffle Dressing and Migas $4.25 each

Grilled scallops topped with fried onion and garlic bits. The fried onion and garlic bits masked and overpowered the scallop.

The ones that were not enjoyed.

Italian Style Scotch Egg £3.50

I didn't enjoy this at all, especially after tasting the ones from Harwood Arms. The casing just seems disconnected from the egg.

According to my friend, the accompanying aioli was incredibly garlicky and it didn't so much bring the dish together as mask its shortcomings. She ended up wishing there was twice as much aioli so I could smother the egg with it.

Mini Iberico Pork and Foie Gras Burger £5.50

This tasted like a normal burger and we couldn't really taste the foie gras in it at all.

Courgette Flowers stuffed with Goat's Cheese and drizzled with Honey £7.55

Fried zucchini flowers stuffed with goats cheese and drizzled with honey. This...just did not work. Did not come together. The batter was no good, the zucchini was the wrong texture, the goat’s cheese unremarkable and the honey does nothing.

As we had 50% off our bill, it was incredibly good value given the amount that was eaten. Their normal prices, like London, are a bit higher than any sane person (particularly one who has lived outside of London) is comfortable paying, but an amount that foodies and people after a good meal and night out get accustomed to parting with, for the sake of a decent feed (as opposed to a mediocre or crap one).

At their normal prices, Opera Tavern will not be sitting very high on my list.

Opera Tavern, 23 Catherine Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 5

Opera Tavern on Urbanspoon


  1. Thank you for the vicarious visit....! Am pretty tempted by the honey with truffled pecorino- it's a combination I've had a couple of times and has quickly become a weakness of mine...

  2. Tori - Yes indeed!I can see it becoming a weakness of mine too. =)


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