Where does Camino Shoreditch fit into the hyper-competitive London restaurant scene? I mean, how many tapas restaurants does London need? Probably not the existing 1,000,000, but it needs this one. I’m not generally a fan. Predictable menus, lazy dishes, bland interiors, boring wines, laboured service – none of which were on display at Camino Shoreditch.
That said, Camino Shoreditch did get off to something of a false start and my above fears were pricked. Despite being well-passed opening time, firmly within the realms of lunch, I was the first to arrive, and both the front and back of house weren’t prepared. I should of known the restaurant would have been quiet, run by a nation of people who think nothing of heading out to dinner at 11:00pm. However, this early confusion was rectified by top-quality complimentary olives and warm service through the early afternoon.
On to the food. What do the olive-skinned, almond-eyed, bootylicious brunettes of Basque have in common with the bald, bulky blokes of Bury? Not a lot I imagine, except for one prized commodity, Black Pudding. Despite being English, indeed Northern, I graciously congratulated our Spanish friends for beating us at our own game, after devouring a well-presented slate full of the black and bloody stuff. Camino call it Morcilla De Burgos and it’s served with feisty alegría peppers.
Then the posh egg and chips came. That was taking the piss. “Can they leave us with anything to hold onto?” I moaned to the Mrs, who’d aurally blocked me out by default anyway. The once friendly rapport with the front of house soured as I lamented the delay of Brexit.
My churlishness soon softened when the seemingly innocent Arroz Negro or black rice appeared. Wow. I didn’t know it was possible to get rice so interesting. If I could travel to Spain and learn nothing except how to cook rice exactly like that at home, it would be a trip worth making. That said, it’s essentially Bomba rice with cuttlefish, squid ink and alioli.
The duck didn’t last long. Beautifully pink, juicy as anything. Cooked in something delicious, that I was too high on protein to take note of.
I can only imagine what the Camino whole suckling pig would offer (available with 48 hours notice), at a not outrageous £180 considering it serves eight people generously. I’m greedy, but not that greedy. I was happy enough with some crispy croquettes instead.
Then came the cheese. Again all excellent. Five neat portions demonstrating different flavours, with zippy quince and nutty fig and almond crispy bits. This was turning into a restaurant I planned to return to.
Regarding service, the young Camino server took pride in highlighting which dishes were regional to his home town, and took pleasure in sharing the joy of discovering the wines. Inexperienced yes, but a credit to the restaurant.
Founder Richard Bigg is said to “take enormous care in seeking out the best Spanish wines” which was evident. From the first sip, I knew I was looking at something unexpectedly special from a casual dining lunch spot. I loved the Camino Wine List, trying several full-bodied, smokey but balanced reds, some from regions and varietals for the first time.
At the time of writing, the cheapest bottle of wine at Camino Shoreditch, excluding half-bottles and service charge, were a Spanish (obviously) Tempranillo/Granacha blend from Castilla La Mancha or a Verdejo/Chardonnay blend from Castilla y León both at £21.50. Conversely, the most expensive bottle of wine, excluding magnums and service charge, was a Rioja Reserva, actually a Tempranillo/Graciano by Beronia for £140, with no vintage stated.
Camino Shoreditch Review Score
Scanning the bill, Camino wasn’t cheap for casual lunch, which soon racked up well over a hundred pound for two. That said, nobody forced me to drink wine, and in the evening I suspect the atmosphere is even better. The tapas was outstanding, so I guess you get what you pay for.
Atmosphere 7 Cost 7 Quality 9 Service 9