I was sad to hear that Goya 23 had ceased trading as I was a fan of their Spanish stylings and excellent range of sherry. In its place comes another place with a Spanish influence called Merienda.
Featuring small plates in the tapas style, the emphasis is on local produce prepared with care.
I was joined for this midweek evening visit by regular guest quester Amy.
We took up station at one of their window tables and menus were brought by the jocular chef owner. While we pondered, we were immediately hooked in by mention of hot parsnip and truffle air with parsnip crisps. This arrived immediately and was essentially a foamy veloute.
We sought advice on the number of plates we should be ordering and it was suggested that five each – ten to share – would be about right.
We opened with a Mediterranean vegetable terrine and some cauliflower beignet. These set the tone for inventive and imaginative dishes.
The next batch of dishes featured gnocchi, Harris crab with avocado and peppers, and textures of beetroot with goat’s cheese. The crab was Amy’s winning dish of the evening.
Courses reached a crescendo with a trio of seafood plates featuring scallops, seabass and octopus. The smoked potato with the octopus was my highlight of the meal.
We then had a pair of bonus oysters before rounding things out with a good cheese selection and some of their house focaccia.
Overall, Merienda feels fresh and distinct in its offering. Their small plates are delivered with verve and ambition. However, at times things felt over-thought and overworked with too many dishes reading and sounding much better than the result on the plate. Still, I’m not sure anywhere in the city is approaching small plates dining with such gusto so I hope their exuberance connects with an audience.
Today’s questers were: Amy, Blythe
We ate: veg terrine, cauliflower beignets, gnocchi, crab, textures of beetroot with goat’s cheese, octopus, scallops with leeks, wild seabass, oysters, focaccia, cheese selection
We drank: white wines, coffees, water
We wore: mainly bright colours
Total bill: £92.90