If you enjoy lingering over lunch or dinner, sharing tasty tapas and sipping on good wine, then Cigala restaurant is the place for you.
There are no ‘two-hour’ time slots at Cigala where you need to polish off your food to make way for other diners. In fact, so laid back is the atmosphere here, I was tempted to take my heels off and make myself feel right at home. That’s exactly how our charming waiter Darren made us feel as he tempted us with a glass of sherry to kick start the evening.
Located in London’s Bloomsbury area, Cigala offers a slice of Spain both from its menu and surroundings. The place is airy thanks to its huge windows, linen and cream walls, and when the sun makes an appearance, diners can spill out onto the tables outside.
A quick look at the menu and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with bags of choices on the Spanish-led list. Staples like paella, tapas selections and main meals can all be found on the menu. Learning that ingredients are often brought directly from Spain by owner and Chef Jake Hodges, made Richard and I want to try a bit of everything. And the laid back atmosphere continued as the kitchen dished up our choice of tapas one or two at a time, so the food remained hot and we could eat according to our hunger – ordering as little or as much as we wanted.
The Pimientos del Padron, deep-fried pedron peppers (authentic peppers from Padron, Galicia), were a great substitute for bread to nibble on, before diving into grilled squid with guindilla peppers and mojo verde, and Espinacas a la Catalana – spinach with raisins, garlic and pine nuts. The Gambas al ajillo, prawns cooked with olive oil, garlic, parsley and chillies ticked the spicy spot perfectly, while the Hidago a la jerezana, pan-fried chicken livers with softened onions and Pedro Ximenez, helped balance out the chilli with its sweet tasting sauce.
Regional hams and olives and a selection of mains complete the menu. The Buey a la brasa, grilled aged 250g ribeye steak with hand cut chips and Churrasco sauce, got the thumbs up from Richard, while the Dorada a la plancha, grilled gilthead bream with broccoli, cream, salted anchovy and guindilla peppers, completely satisfied me. How we managed to round off the meal with the incredibly tasty and chilled Tarta Whisky pudding, is beyond me. But it was definitely worth it.
Cigala is located at 54 Lamb’s Conduit St, London WC1N 3LW.