Don't miss

Cafe Andaluz

By on July 8, 2014

Cafe Andaluz, 2 Cresswell Lane, G12 8AA 0141 339 1111

Pushing through the heavy, carved wooden front door, we step down twisting stairs to the twinkling candlelight welcome of this basement restaurant. Warm and encompassing, the walls and floors are covered by beautiful Spanish tiles, with their Moorish-influenced designs helping to recreate an Andalucian-style setting.

The room opens out to a wide selection of tables, booths and bar stools, and during the day light floods in through the coloured glass ceiling-height street-level windows. A glass of rioja, some bread and olives, and I can almost believe we are 1200 miles away …

It’s 11 years since this tapas restaurant opened, the first in a Cafe Andaluz chain that now extends to the city centre and to Edinburgh. We’ve seen a few menu changes over the years but the staples remain, with seafood favourites such as calamares, the battered rings served with a piquant lemon and chorizo flavoured mayonnaise, and gambas pil pil, the zingy peeled prawns in olive oil, chillies and garlic.

Your table could easily pile up with little plates of vegetarian food too, with plenty to choose from including dishes such as tortilla espanola or berenjenas rellenas de pimientos, which is aubergine stuffed with cous cous, peppers and tomatoes, with melting Manchego cheese on top.

For some of us, however, the various chorizo dishes mean making difficult decisions, with albondigas, the spiced lamb meatballs in a rich tomato sauce also competing for attention alongside the carne de res picante, strips of spiced beef with a salad of rocket and Manchego shavings.

Cafe Andaluz offers pre-theatre and lunch-time deals – three tapas from £9.95 a person 12-4pm – and some judicious sharing and careful bargaining with your dining companions can keep the bill down. The variety of flavours on offer are so tempting but try not to overdo it, as you can always order more if you are still hungry later. We try following the Spanish example and treat the food as an accompaniment to our drinks, rather than a ‘meal’. Then have some more.

Outside seating is great if the weather allows. Inside, if Cafe Andaluz is busy, you might be offered a place to dine at the bar – but this is actually our favourite seat in the heart of the restaurant …

Don’t miss – The butifarra negra, a generous slice of Andalucian black pudding with apple sauce and onion (£4.75), another great example of Scottish-Spanish cultural links! And the tiny boquerones en vinagre – marinated anchovies – certainly pack a mighty punch (3.95). If you can find room after all this, then the crema Catalana (£5.25) is silky smooth and sweet. Some would describe this dish as the Spanish version of crème brulee – others might argue over where this delightful ‘burnt cream’ was first concocted. Many more of us are just grateful it happened somewhere ..

Drinks – There is a good range of house wines by the glass and bottle (from £5.57 & £15.95 respectively), along with a choice of much heftier-priced rioja reservas. Cava is £24.95 and there is Alhambra draught and bottled beers – including Mahou – plus a choice of sherries by the glass at £2.75. Soft drinks and spirits too.

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