I’ve been to Meson Don Felipe, a tapas bar in The Cut near Waterloo station, a number of times. It’s a great location if you’re going to the Old Vic or Young Vic theatres. Once a rather seedy part of the Waterloo area, it’s now bustling with bars and restaurants and is a lively place to head to whether you’re going to the theatre or not. Don Felipe claim on their website to be the first authentic tapas bar in London. They opened in 1987 and aim to give you the Madrid or Seville experience. Having been to both those great cities, I can say they do a pretty good job. It’s a popular place, always crowded and often with a queue to get in. And anytime I’ve been, there’s always been some live music – a Spanish guitarist. You can go in for a snack – just one or two tapas with a drink or the nicest thing is to share a few tapas with a friend or two and make more of a meal of the experience.
Elsa and I had been to the ‘Painting with Light’ exhibition at Tate Britain. Rather a dull and disappointing one, as it turned out. Supper though, would turn out to be the exact opposite: exciting, full of colour and vibrancy, and just as good as it always is at Don Felipe. We walked there from Tate Britain, following The Thames, crossing over Lambeth Bridge and walking on past The London Eye and cutting down by the British Film Institute towards Waterloo and The Cut. It didn’t actually take that long. Surprisingly, we didn’t have to wait for seats (stools at the bar), although there were only a few left. I guess it was round 6.30 and crowded with people on their way home from work, stopping for a drink and snack, or others having a pre-theatre meal. We ordered half a carafe (50cl) of the house red, a good Crianza, for £11.00, and decided about 4-5 tapas to share would be right. You can always order more! That’s the great thing about tapas.
The broad beans with cured ham and mint is a favourite of ours, which we couldn’t resist ordering again. I love the sweetness of the beans, the slight saltiness of the ham, all lifted with a kind of freshness by the mint. It’s a brilliant combination.
The fresh spinach with pine nuts and raisins was delicious. The spinach perfectly cooked retaining both its colour and freshness with the gorgeous addition of crunchy pine nuts and sweet raisins.
These baby green peppers – Pimientos de Padron – fried in olive oil were good too.
The Bacalao frito con alioli – deep fried cod with garlic mayonnaise was good as well, though the batter not quite as crisp as I would have liked it.
Brocheta de Cordero was a skewer of marinated English leg of lamb served on couscous. The lamb had a delicious flavour.
By this time the live music had arrived in the shape of Angus, a Welshman with a Scottish name (according to the regular sitting next to us) who played Spanish guitar.
Angus was perched somewhat precariously on a small ‘stage’ at the far end, but it gave everyone a view of him and of course the music flowed across the whole restaurant. I like Spanish guitar and it added to the already lively atmosphere and was great entertainment.
The dessert menu arrived and Elsa seemed keen to indulge, so I suggested we shared. We chose the baked cheesecake with fruits of the forest.
I regaled Elsa with the story of the incredible cheesecake Annie and I had in San Sebastian on the last day at Bar La Vina. Perhaps Don Felipe’s wasn’t quite so stunning as the famous La Vina one, but it was still very good and we enjoyed it.
It was a great evening. I like the place a lot, like the relaxed lively atmosphere. The staff are always friendly and welcoming. It’s a great place with friends or on your own.