Monday, 11 October 2010

Camino - Puerto del Canario

We were guests of Camino.

Camino in Canary Wharf opened about a month ago to a big party and the now infamous “Sherry Ferry”. To which I wasn’t invited.
I was however invited to come and sample what this new branch has to offer. This I jumped at, after eating and drinking at the original one in King’s Cross and loved it. I haven’t been back though since we returned in March. Must correct.
So we booked a table for the day after the recent “Tube Strike Monday”, damn those tube drivers from keeping me from my work a second time.
I’m not a fan of Canary Wharf, I find it a pretty soulless place to go to, never mind work. But for a restaurant serving good food here it’s a win win situation.

The new branch is on the riverfront, and has a bright and airy restaurant with a large bar for those big spending money type people to hold big money spending parties to celebrate their latest bonus.

We decided not to be seated right away, as there was a nice vibe in the bar, so we choose to have a drink and chill for a bit. They have Estrella on draft, and the staff make a mean mojito. Although way too limey for me, but La Latina likes them that way. So she was happy.
These drinks we paid for, I felt kinda happy to pay for something tonight, as I now feel I can give an unbiased view of the place. Although I would have done that anyhows. We met the owner Richard Bigg, who is a very passionate man, with a good knowledge of everything in his restaurants. We chatted for quite a while, mainly shooting the wind about the company, Spain and life in general. A really nice guy. I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone, so it was a surprise to meet the man himself. On my entire 10 weeks on that trip, I only ever met two GM’s from over 200 hotels. Sometimes it’s nice to meet the big man. You get a better feel of the place.
He asked us what we would be eating and drinking. Politeness always rules and I asked if he could make some recommendations for us. His suggestions were so good that I think we ordered them all. For the wine, he insisted on ordering for us. OK. Not gonna argue with the boss on that one.

He ordered for us, a fine bottle of Pintia from Toro, which is northwest of Madrid. This wine has some large tannins and deep concentrated blackberries, which I love in wines. This came from the big guns menu. For those guys with big bonuses to spend. Lucky buggers.
So after looking at the menu, we literally stuck with Richard’s suggestions. Damn good choices they were as well. We also took on some recommendations from our waiter, Augusto. Who had a good deal of knowledge of the food on the menu.
To wet our appetites we ordered the selection of embutidos, and some croquettes de Jamon. The cured meats were thinly sliced and at a room temp so the taste was exquisite. The croquettes were perfectly cooked. And had a strong Jamon flavour. Perfect.

We also had some Txigorki’s (please do not ask me to pronounce this.) Basque style sandwiches with sun dried tomatoes and goats cheese. I wish some deli’s would sell things like this. They would make a killing.

For our mains we ordered the Presa Iberica, (the shoulder blade of the black trotted pig) which comes medium rare and was the best thing we tasted that night. Truly awesome, a great smoky flavour, as it is cooked over live coals. Not like another restaurant not a million miles away.

We also ordered Pulpo a la Parilla, which is a whole octopus tentacle draped over some olive oil mash. Both were perfectly cooked, but the mash was slightly too over powering for the delicate pulpo. The mash worked perfectly with the Pork blade. Really that was our only criticism of the night. Not a big one.
We decided not to pig out, as we wanted to sample some of the puddings. Originally we were told we could order what ever we wanted, but not to go crazy. I’m not a greedy person anyhows. Ok let me correct that. I am a greedy person. I just hate waste, even if it I am not paying.]

The only puddings we were tempted by were the Torta de Santiago, and the Crema Catalana. Well they are Spain’s most famous puddings, and it would have been shameful not to sample them.
We were offered a couple of desert wines to complement the deserts. A moscatel for the Torta, and a Pedro Ximenez for the Crema Catalana.

I’ve never been that big on desert wines, mainly because I find them too sweet, but the muscatel went like a dream with the torta. It rocked my boat. The Pedro Ximenez just didn’t do anything for me. It has too a strong flavour for my palette, but they went perfectly with the respective deserts.
At the end of the meal we were offered a liquor to aid our digestion. Patxaran is typical liquor from northern Spain made from sloe berries macerated in anis. It’s sharp and will cut through anything, and perfect for an after dinner shot.
I know we were treated very well, and maybe but I don’t think that the chefs cooked our meals any better than they would do for any other client, as I’ve eaten at the other branch. The food is damn good.
Even if this hadn’t been a free meal, I would have been very happy to have paid for it. It was that good
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