Lobos Soho: Feast, like the wolves (March 2017)

There is no shortage of competition for tapas joints in London and far too often they fall down on offering indifferent fare that is a far cry from even the most basic establishment in Spain. Against this background, Lobos – Spanish for wolves – is an excellent addition to the London scene. The founders are ex-Brindisa (another rare example of good tapas execution) and having succeeded with their original Lobos venture in Borough Market, now comes their second in Soho. Everything works about this place. We were welcomed by the enthusiastic front of house (and one of the partners in the venture) and allowed to choose our table – a benefit of having arrived early when it was still quiet. Diners have the option of bar stools facing outwards from the restaurant (great for solo dining and Soho people-watching), small tables with high stools facing the bar area or more conventional seating at the back. We went for the middle option, but regardless of where one would have sat, the atmosphere was great: low-lighting and a top sound track, generally a good vibe to the whole place. Dishes start from the most basic (such as pan con tomate, at £3.50) and work up to the more pricey (the most expensive coming in at £32, for sirloin steak on the bone). They also range from the conventional through to the imaginative and it was undoubtedly in this latter category that the restaurant showed its true potential. Stand-out dishes – both in terms of presentation and taste – were the octopus leg with sweet potato and chorizo, and the Uruguayan picanha steak, served with baked bone marrow. In both cases, these were novel takes on more traditional offerings, delivered flawlessly. The texture of the bone marrow will endure for some time. A nod to Uruguay features not only in the food but also the wine, with several Tannats being on offer. This grape, originally from the south west of France finds its truest expression in Uruguay (a bit like Argentina with Malbec), and paired superbly with the food, the robustness of the drink being more than able to stand up to the fully flavoured dishes. Definitely worth a return visit.