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Cambio de Tercio

163 Old Brompton Road, London, England, SW5 0LJ, United Kingdom

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Cambio de Tercio serves some of the most authentic Spanish food in London, going beyond basic tapas dishes to a more ambitious level of cooking than can be found elsewhere in the capital. With its Spanish guitar music playing in the background and the extensive and moderately marked-up wine list, an evening here is quite reminiscent of eating in Spain, except for the London weather. I have eaten many times here over the years and the repertoire of dishes is extensive; there always seem to be new options to try.  

A recent meal here began with gazpacho poured over lobster and cherry ice cream. The soup had lovely depth of flavour, and the lobster was tender; the cherry ice cream was an interesting extra element, but the dish was carried by the fine gazpacho (16/20).

Next was a modern take on Spanish omelette, served in a cocktail glass, with a layer of caramelised onion, topped with egg yolk and potato foam with slivers of potato crisps. This was a rich dish, but the potato provided a welcome textural balance and offset the richness (15/20).

Smoked sardines with apple and foie gras was another good dish. The sardines had strong flavour, and the apple’s acidity nicely balanced the richness of the foie gras (16/20). Hake was carefully cooked, served with good asparagus, baby leeks and salsa verde. The dish was let down by poor razor clams, that were distinctly chewy; at one time in my life I assumed that razor clams were inherently like this, until I ate versions in Japan, but also at some top UK restaurants such as Kitchin (14/20). 

Veal cheeks were served in a patty, with a salad with vinegar dressing and chips, a sort of deconstructed burger minus the bun. The star was the veal cheek itself, beautifully tender, the vinegar dressing of the salad providing some balance to its inherent richness (16/20). 

Dessert was a deconstructed cheesecake served in a cocktail glass, using Manchego cheese and having enough fruit flavour to balance the cheese (15/20). Overall this meal was between 15/20 and 16/20, slightly less consistent than some previous meals that I have eaten here. However the dishes are inventive and the best dishes were very good indeed.

The bill came to £107 a head, including a lovely bottle of Rioja Alta 904 2000 at £88.50. Service was excellent. Although the restaurant was packed, even on a Tuesday evening, the topping up of bread, water and wine was exemplary. Cambio always feels to me authentically Spanish, and indeed a lot of the customers here are evidently Spanish, enjoying a little taste of home. 

Further reviews: 22nd Dec 2012

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  • Ewan

    Went here tonight on your recommendation and I've got to say I'm not quite convinced just yet. Jamon was excellent but as you note that's really a question of sourcing and ability to handle a knife. The pan con tomate on the side, meanwhile, had good tomatoes, but it wasn't salted at all and more importantly the bread was burned at the side. I don't mean it was artfully charred: I mean on two of the four slices I actually had to scrape a sizable chunk off before it was edible. The 'foie gras that fell from the tree' was clever in that it was foie sealed in a little bit of apple jelly, with a stalk on top to make it look like an apple, and a smear of an apple cream sauce beneath. The foie was alright and I thought it was a clever dish but really the acidity of the apple could have been ramped up a bit. And the octopus... well, it was prepared well, had a bit of bite to it without being too chewy, and a great smoky aftertaste. That was a highlight. But it was off-balance: the potatoes parmentier promised on the menu turned out instead to be an excessively rich potato puree (my understanding of parmentier potatoes is that they're sauteed cubes of potato - maybe it denotes a different dish in Spain) and there was too much truffle oil. Not a hint of acidity in the dish was really the problem here - I'd have climbed over three tables to get a wedge of lemon because it was such a heavy dish. I've eaten in Spain many times and I know that in a lot of traditional restaurants there there is a lean towards rich foods, but this was taking the cake (which I declined; after these three dishes, a cava and a glass of house white I was in little mood for more.) Basically the ingredient quality is good, the ideas are good, but the execution is a little off. I have very similar tastes to yours, leaning towards classical, but this felt like a bit of a miss to me. Nonetheless I love the room and the staff were really nice... that plus the wine list means I'll maybe give it another shot sometime and try things like the roasted tomato and the ceviche, which will be a bit fresher in taste.

  • Sophie Hirsch

    I visited Cambio yesterday and have to say I was thoroughly disappointed. We decided to go for the tasting menu, which in hindsight was the wrong choice. Food wise maybe one, at most two dishes were interesting and deserving of your praise the others were passable. Overall the menu was simply not very memorable. Whilst the food was at best satisfactory, the service was not at all. The speed we went through the dishes felt more like a fast food restaurant than a relaxed dinner. Our waitress also hardly spoke any English and when we asked for further explanation on dishes we got a finger pointed at the menu. Next to this we also had our plates taken before we were even able to finish our dishes. The worst part of the evening was however when I mentioned my disappointment to the Restaurant Manager. He rejected everything I said and in his arrogant demeanour made me feel my age (I am 22) and that my ignorance was the reason for my criticism. I was really quite surprised how much our experiences differ.

  • Matt

    For what it's worth, the 'omelette in a martini glass' is a Ferran Adria recipe called 21st Century Tortilla. Can be found in The Cook's Book. Very nice it is too.

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