London’s first sherry bar Capoto y Toros (the cape and the bull) is the little sister to the excellent Cambio de Tercio just a couple of doors down. The long, narrow room has a line of tables and a bar at the end, a series of hams hanging from the ceiling and a display of sherries (110 sherries are offered). The use of warm colours for the walls, the pictures of bulls, prints of Spanish scenes and people and the framed matador cape leave you in no doubt which nationality is represented; Spanish guitar music plays in the background.
Five styles of sherry are offered as a flight of tasting glasses at £12.50, in order from the lightest to the heaviest style: we tried Fino Quinta, Alegria Manzinalla, Delgado Zuleta Amontillado, Oloroso Dry from Gutierrez Colosia, and Palo Cortado from Regente (the exact sherries on the flight vary). We also finished up with a lovely Pedro Ximines with our dessert. Sherry is not compulsory, and you can drink beer or wine if you prefer, but sherry goes well with the tapas served here.
As well as excellent ham from Recebo (£7.50) we tried many of the tapas dishes. Andalucian style gazpacho (£4) was lovely, with deep tomato flavour (remarkably the tomatoes tonight were from an English supplier, though they sometimes use ones from Spain) and well balanced and seasoned (5/10). Salad of goat cheese was served with a particularly nice honey dressing, and featured tomatoes that tasted of tomato, a rare thing indeed in the UK (4/10).
Garlic prawns (£6) were tender, and simply cooked (4/10) and I enjoyed a simple dish of baby anchovies (£4.50) marinated in Palo Cortada vinaigrette (4/10). The Galician octopus (£6.75) with potato and sweet paprika was pleasant, if verging on chewy (2/10), while the casserole of artichokes and mushrooms with manzanilla was the least convincing dish, the vegetables ending up rather mushy (1/10). Salmon tartare with aioli of padron peppers was better, the richness of the aioli nicely balancing the salmon (3/10).
The meal finished appropriately with a pedro Ximines ice cream with raisins and macadamia nuts (easily 4/10), while I also sampled a mousse of sweet Oloroso sherry with caramelised figs (3/10).
Service was excellent and the place was buzzing in the early evening on a mid-week night, just weeks after opening. You do get a real sense of Spain here, and I found the food and atmosphere very appealing.