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Spanish: Fino

by Krista


33 Charlotte Street
Tel: 0207 813 8010

Date of Last Visit: Friday, January 4

The Victims: K&A

The Damage: £35ish for me. K&A let me off easy.

The Background: We've been to see Atonement in Leicester Square. I cried. A lot. It was awful. I didn't expect to get that teary. So I look awful. I feel awful. Do you know that feeling? When you've been crying? It took me an hour or so to shake it.

K&A have booked us into Fino and I endear myself to them forever when I confidently insist I know exactly how to get there, and then I take them down that strange back alley with all the Spanish bars north of Tottenham Court. They lose all confidence in me.

The Entrance: So we are glad to arrive at Fino. Our table is ready, and it's a little weird. It's a table for three. Yes…it's a booth that fits two on one side and two anorexic people on the other. But it's fine and we get some olives and I get a Cranberry soda (off the sauce this month) and we settle in to order.

The Service: Around this time, it's obvious the waitstaff is not happy with each other. They are arguing so much that I have to ask what the problem is. Apparently, a table for eight has booked but multiplied on the way over. They are now 13. And Fino is not happy. Not happy at all. Parties of eight can order off the regular menu, but if you're more than eight, set menus are their preferred option to keep things easy on the kitchen. Our waitress would have waited on that table had they been eight, but now that they are 13, the manager takes over so the other tables aren't negatively affected. Good thinking. But next time, keep the upset-ness to the back-of-house.

The Starters: Anyhow…K&A start ordering…we have the mixed plate of meats, of which the chorizo is my fave. The tortilla is average. It looks lovely, but they've stuffed it with cooked, wet onions which I haven't expected and they are gooey and not to my liking. We have some squid which is nice.  And some almonds which are of course nice. But the star at this point are the ham croquettas, which we order more of and which take ages to arrive and which we have to ask after twice. Oh, and we don't really want to order the Bread with Marques de Valdueza Olive Oil–only K does–but we do and it's FANTASTIC.

The food is coming so quickly and we are so hungry that I am worried that this will be the fastest meal on record. I ask the staff to slow down and they tell me not to worry, these are just the starters and of course there will be a break between these and the next batch. Thank God.

Intermission: I check out the ladies and I like the set up. It's clean and I have my own sink and there are nice candles in the hallway. I also like the look of the bar area which you pass through on your way to the ladies–very 70s den. I would consider coming back here to hang out in the bar. I should mention that I check out the ladies a couple of times because of the pace at which I'm drinking my cranberry sodas and TAP WATER which is provided without blinking. But then I get a bit upset with myself for ordering the tap water because the bottled water they are serving is Belu and I've missed my chance to be a better person today.

The Second Act: The crisp pork belly with crackling is GREAT. The fries are sprinkled with garlic and rosemary, which is a very winning combination and one I'd like to see more of in 2008. We like the fries so much we order more. The octopus is not for me, and this is strange because I LOVE octopus. A. orders the brussel sprouts and we ask our server if they sell a lot of brussel sprouts and she says her last order was before Christmas. Hmmm. TMI. Pimentos de Padron are average–they are wet. At Eyre Brothers, they are served a bit more crispy and grilled, which I prefer. (Although in the grand scheme of things, I prefer Fino to Eyre Brothers, food-wise. 70s den-wise? Eyre Brothers still has the edge.)

The Verdict: I can't decide. It would be a good celebratory business dinner kind of place. (A business-business dinner would be weird because how can you share food and negotiate a contract at the same time? ) I would go back to the bar. Not sure if I would seek out the restaurant again for myself or friends and family.

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