9:35pm on a Wednesday night is a dicey prospect, both for diners and restaurateurs. The kitchen is getting ready to close, and everyone would just rather be at home. When I shambled through the doors of La Sal on Howden Street, I was eyed with a slight air of “haven’t you seen the time?”. Thankfully for all concerned, my general aspect of respectability served me well, gaining me admittance to what turned out to be a really impressive dining experience.
The restaurant at the front of their quite extensive premises (they have a dancefloor for twice-monthly flamenco shows) is nice enough. It hinted at grander things, but I didn’t get a chance for a full inspection.
The service was exactly what you’d expect in such a place: very keen to explain dishes; delighted to offer recommendations; and keen to make sure you had a good balance of dishes. I was every bit as impressed by the fact that they approved the outline of my basic choices, particularly given that the underlying message was “order now or forever hold your peace”.
I’d chosen padron peppers, which are a real favourite of mine, then morcilla (black pudding) and pulpo (octopus).
The first and last options arrived together, both looking rather tempting. Both were excellent, with the padron peppers as moreish as ever.
The black pudding was very good, but the octopus was the star of the show, with a wonderfully constructed dish that packed an excellent profusion of flavour.
The whole thing put me in mind of dishes that you eat on holiday and wish were available when you came home. Our fondest food memories are often drawn from far afield, when the sun is shining and life is good. This place was plenty memorable enough for me, though, and hidden in plain sight, right on our (chilly) doorstep.
So overall, La Sal was just the tapas place I’d been looking for, particularly given my lukewarm reaction to El Quijote. It served dishes to extremely impressive quality, and left me eager for another visit. I’d highly recommend that you go, at your earliest convenient opportunity.
Blythe scores the La Sal
4.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for setting
4.5/5 for service
giving an overall 16.5/20
I ate: padron peppers, Spanish black pudding, Galician octopus
I drank: rioja, espresso
I wore: brown pinstripes
Total bill: £22.40