Tired of tapas? You’re not alone. Somehow sharing small plates of food for dinner doesn’t seem like a ground-breaking concept any more. With DIY charcuterie packs in every supermarket aisle and the likes of La Tasca dishing up patatas bravas by the thousand each night, tapas have lost something of their lustre over the past decade.
Unless you can get hold of some genuine fare, that is. Spit Jack’s, just off Victoria Park, has been around for two years and is one of a growing number of Spanish eateries serving tapas that really taste authentic. Its owner Gabs, who also co-owns Fish House across the road, spent time living in Spain and Argentina and you can tell from the quality of the products and the scope of the menu.
We started with a plate of cured meats loaded with Iberian lomo, Serrano ham and salchichon. It came with some full-bodied Manchego cheese and a lovely pale pink fat slice of jelly, as well as ruby red chorizo and little olives wrapped in anchovies. There were some fat prawns shining in chilli oil and garlic tasting as if they had just been yanked out of the sea, as well as some good bread from the local E5 bakery to soak up all the good juices with.
Everything we ate tasted fresh and bright, but the highlight was a big bowl of salty slow-fried padrino peppers. The bright, green, fleshy vegetables were firm without being tough and light enough to get away with disappearing about a dozen of them.
Next up some chicken from the spit, which was juicy and well-seasoned. They also offer legs of lamb and beef, as well as burgers and steaks for hungrier patrons. We had a carafe of the house special, a Closerie de Lys Pinot Noir for £4.49 a glass that was light and fruity and entirely too drinkable for a Sunday evening.
The desserts are a hat tip to Gab’s time in South America, with dulche de leche cheesecake topping off the menu. Dulce de leche is incredibly popular in Argentina, which may have the sweetest tooth of any country in the world, and is a kind of caramel-like putty made of condensed milk and sugar.
There was also a salty caramel slice made with dark chocolate that tasted delicious and the churros, usually snatched off street stalls and eaten out of a paper bag, were excellent. Impossible to eat gracefully, you chomp into the sugary, greasy batter and spend the next five minutes licking sugar off your chin.
Overall, this is a really friendly place that does great brunches and lunches as well as dinner, with eggs, refried beans and tortillas. The rest of the menu also looks tasty, including things like buttered sweetcorn with lime and chilli, saffron rice and peas, salt cod croquets and ‘chicken bang bang’ sandwiches. Tapas cost as little as £2.25 and are no more expensive than £8.
87 Lauriston Road