Sibarita is the latest tapas restaurant venture by Victor Garvey, who also opened Encant (named Duende at the time) in spring 2016 a few doors down from here, and previously was the head chef at Bravas Tapas in Docklands. Mr Garvey has packed a lot into his young life, being born in New York but brought up in Barcelona. He spent six months working at El Bulli and also worked in the kitchens of the excellent Can Fabes under the late Santi Santamaria, as well as spending a year at Noma, and even worked at Ryugin. When in the USA he worked briefly in Los Angeles before being recruited to work as executive sous chef for Julian Serrano at Picasso in Las Vegas. He has somehow carved out time to eat in quite a few top restaurants in Europe as a customer.
The wine list at Sibarita was well chosen, with tasting notes for each wine, vintages properly listed and an emphasis on good value bottles. For example La Palcios Herencia Remondo Vendimia was £5.90 for a glass and had a very good finish for a wine at this price point (it retails at £12 a bottle). The La Montesa Crianza 2015 from the same producer was priced at £39 for a bottle compared to its shop price of £14 or so, The excellent Vina Tondonia Tinto Reserva 2004 was £67 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £28, and Bodega Belondrade y Lurton Verdejo 2015 was £88 for a bottle that will set you back £29 in a shop.
Spinach croquettas (£4 for four) were unusually good examples of the breed, with a crisp outer coating and plenty of spinach flavour (14/20). Iberico Bellota Gran Reserva ham. The “Bellota” classification is the highest grade (the others being cebo, cebo de campo and recebo) of Iberian ham, the pigs fed only on acorns and grass with no added compound feed. This particular ham, from a producer called Montesano, which owns 5,000 hectares of farms in Extremadura, has its own slaughterhouse and raises 15,000 pigs a year. The ham (priced here at £17 a portion) was cured for three years, and came with toasted sourdough bread from Hedone, as well as pickled garlic and green chillies. It is hard to score something like this, which is really just careful sourcing rather than cooking, however enjoyable it is. However the ham was carefully cut and the bread is the best that can be found in London. High grade pata negra with top notch bread is one of life’s great pleasures.
I then had very good paella (£11), topped with a generous collection of shellfish (prawns, clams, mussels) and some octopus, and with well made saffron rice (14/20). Finally, chocolate ice cream (£5) was a nice way to finish, made from scratch in the kitchen and flavoured with a little olive oil and salt. The salt worked very nicely with the chocolate, and the texture was smooth (13/20).
Service was friendly and capable. The bill came to £48 with a glass of wine. If you ate a more sensible volume of food than I did, laid off the pata negra and shared a modest bottle of wine, then a realistic cost per head might be around £45. Sibarita is just what you want in a tapas bar, with good quality produce, careful cooking and a nicely chosen selection of wines. It is particularly useful that it is placed in Covent Garden, which is groaning with chain restaurants and tourist traps, so badly needs more proper restaurants like this.