Zorita’s Kitchen: The trouble with tapas (December 2014)

I love tapas; it is a wonderfully communal way of eating, where the food does not impinge of the conversation and diners can sample a range of dishes. Indeed the idea of sharing platters, long-favoured by the Spanish, has now become close to ubiquitous on the trendy London dining scene. The only problem, however, is that it is very rare to find a Spanish restaurant in this country – and Zorita is no exception – where one is left salivating over every dish. As a point of principle, it seems foolish to go to a restaurant accepting that not all the dishes may please. With regard to Zortia, this is a pity. The venue is lovely – small and intimate, overlooking the Thames with a superb view of the Tate Modern – but the overall experience was somewhat let down, and not just by the food. The service, while friendly, was incredibly slow and far from efficient. Furthermore, it seemed to test the bounds of credulity that a Spanish restaurant would have no dry sherry at all in stock. Even if the excuse was that they had sold out, surely a pragmatic restaurateur would just go to their local Majestic wine and stock up, especially this close to Christmas. We did make up for the sherry’s absence though with a fine Ribera del Duero, the grapes hailing from a vineyard owned by the restaurant. In terms of the food, one is very much in the land of traditional tapas fare at Zorita, even if again, much of it was produce grown on farms owned by the restaurant. Our selection of hams disappointed and in particular the one billed by our server as being ‘the most expensive in the world’ (perhaps a bold assertion, even if she did claim that a whole leg cost £800) was notably anti-climactic. Elsewhere, the normally simple dish of tortilla was rendered close to inedible by the unnecessary addition of mozzarella and chorizo. On the positive side, the octopus was wonderfully tender, the sardines subtly spicy and the cheeses interestingly inventive. At £50/head, pricing is reasonable (given the wine drunk). We had a good time, Zorita has a lot of potential, but they really do need to do a bit better if they are to endure.