Cambio de Tercio, which opened in 1995, is blessed with several outside tables and this is where we sat on this summer evening. Table spacing was reasonable and the staff work masks as a Covid-19 precaution. Every table was taken on this Tuesday night, as was the case at the casual sister restaurant Tendido Cero opposite.
Iberico ham was from Jabugo in Huelva, and was from acorn-fed Iberian pigs. Cambio uses both Cinco Jotas and Juan-Pedro Domecq as their suppliers. The ham was cut pleasingly thin and had plenty of flavour; pata negra is a lovely product indeed. Gazpacho was poured at the table over cherries and cucumber, with a garnish of pea shoot. This was very good, the chilled soup having plenty of tomato flavour, while the cherries provided some acidity that worked well with the natural sweetness of the tomato (15/20).
Tortilla with summer truffles was for me the least interesting dish, tonight it seeming a touch undercooked to how I recall it previously. It was pleasant enough, but summer truffles rarely have much in the way of fragrance in the way that true black truffles (tuber melanosporum) do (13/20). Slow-cooked tomatoes were roasted for eight hours in sweet oloroso sherry, and served with a cheese sauce that used La Peral cheese. The latter is an artisan blue cheese from Esther Alvarez and her husband Jose Luis Lopez in the Asturias in northwest Spain. The slow cooking with the sherry produces a lovely sweetness in the tomatoes that goes well with the slight brininess of the cheese sauce (16/20).
Garlic and chilli prawns were simple enough, but the prawns were good quality and were tender, enlivened by the garlic and a little chilli (14/20). Salmon croquettes were described as “nigiri”, though a Japanese sushi chef would doubtless be shocked by the description. They are essentially fried rice balls, reminiscent of arancini, topped with a slice of smoked salmon. The rice balls themselves were excellent, and barely needed the salmon (14/20).
Patatas bravas is a staple tapas dish, but was given a high-end culinary treatment by two-Michelin star Sergio Arola in Madrid. Mona Lisa potatoes are cut into tubes and hollowed out with a corer, cooked in the oven to soften and then pan-fried. They are filled with a sauce of tomatoes, garlic and cayenne pepper and topped with aioli. The Cambio version is a faithful representation of this dish, and they compare well with the original version that I tried in Madrid. They were particularly good tonight (16/20).
Paella with chicken and prawns was served in a cast iron skillet, and used the traditional bomba rice, in this case Illa Riu rice from Tarragona. On top of the rice base were a pair of prawns and also confit artichokes, mange tout, Iberico tomatoes and free-range chicken. This was a quite good paella, having a socarrat, the crusty layer at the bottom of the paella that becomes caramelised and toasted on the iron pan (13/20). By now we had eaten plenty of food, so skipped dessert and coffee.
The bill came to £76 per person, which is about what a typical cost per head including wine might be. Service was charming. I have always had a soft spot for this restaurant, where pretty much all the staff, and many of the customers, are Spanish. It feels like a little corner of Spain yet is just a short stroll from The Boltons, a particularly posh bit of Kensington and Chelsea.Book