Nottingham is becoming quite the hotspot for Spanish cuisine. In a time where people want their food fast, varied and Instagram-able, tapas bars are all the rage, and over the last year this city has really caught on. This is music to my ears, and when a friend suggested dinner the other night I was quick off the mark with a suggestion of where to go.
Baresca opened in 2015 and has had a steady stream of customers ever since. The same was true the night of our visit, and we had to wait at the bar for 10 minutes or so before a table became available – perfect for a pre-dinner drink.
When we were seated, with wine at the ready, it was time to peruse the menu. We were advised to order 2-3 plates per person, so we rounded up (just to be safe) and got 6 between us. In traditional tapas style, the dishes arrived at the table as and when they were ready, and we didn’t have to wait long before the first delivery was brought over.
Chargrilled octopus and chorizo… Beautifully presented, this was always going to be a winner with me as it’s pretty much all my favourite things on one plate. The chewy octopus and salty chorizo were complemented by fresh, crunchy cucumber and spring onion, with a sharp red pepper sauce to finish it off. A must-have.
Halloumi fritters… thick batons of battered halloumi perfect for dunking in the aioli-style sauce that accompanies them, but perhaps a bit heavy duty if you’re ordering quite a lot (I could only finish one)
Molasses glazed boneless duck leg… big, juicy pieces of duck leg sat on a creamy celeriac puree, scattered with zingy pomegranate seeds. Pretty mouthwatering, in short. The only downside is that the duck was slightly cold, but the flavours more than made up for it.
Moroccan chicken and chickpea stew… swimming with apricots, sultanas and feta, this pot wasn’t short of flavour but it was a bit on the watery side, and seemed out of place amongst the other dishes and the overall theme.
Patatas bravas… a tapas classic, these crispy potatoes were smothered in a tomato sauce that was incredibly salty (our wine intake dramatically increased at this point), to the extent that it overpowered everything else rather than served as an accompanying dish.
Sweet potato gnocchi… This was really the star of the show. Served on a bed of spinach leaves, the gnocchi comes drizzled in a blue cheese sauce and topped with walnuts. The blue cheese is sharp but not overpowering, and the textures work extremely well together – the stodgy gnocchi with the crunchy walnuts a match made in heaven.
The service was great, with one waiter in particular humouring my request to practice my Spanish (verdict: adequate but needs some work) and the bill wasn’t too painful considering we had wine and some of the more expensive options.
While I wouldn’t order some of the dishes again, others I would happily eat for eternity – and I’ll definitely be returning to sample a few more.
robyn’s review: 8/10
Find Baresca on Byard Lane, Nottingham City Centre – http://www.baresca.co.uk