It’s a bank holiday weekend here in UK and remarkably – for we are renowned for our bad holiday weather – the temperatures have soared, there are no clouds for the sun to hide behind and in London (more specifically Richmond) yesterday we hit 32C. It was hot. On Richmond Green crowds squashed tightly into the shade of the trees around the edge.
My friend Elsa had come over from East London and we met at Kew Gardens. Here we headed towards clumps of trees and shade to walk, the full force of the sun in the open too much for long, but it was still lovely to enjoy these beautiful botanical gardens for a while. But the sun brought out a ‘need’ for ice cream. We had Gelateria Danieli in mind. We hopped on a 65 bus and were soon sitting with our gelato looking across Richmond Green before taking a stroll down to the very crowded riverside where a small stage was set up for a rock festival that’s been going on all weekend.
Then our Spanish evening began. I had tickets for us to see the new Pedro Almodóvar film, Pain and Glory, at Richmond Curzon. It was brilliant; such an enjoyable film with Antonio Banderas giving ‘the performance of a lifetime that … surely demands Oscar recognition’ (Mark Kermode, Observer), and the always fabulous Penelope Cruz. Carrying the Spanish of its subtitles with us, we walked the short distance to Rincòn Bar Español in Paradise Road for some Spanish food and wine.
It seemed a perfect choice. I’ve passed the bar so many times, situated as it is on a corner of Richmond’s one-way system where buses turn into the bus station. I’d first considered Don Fernando’s restaurant by Richmond train station but when I saw Rincón was a ‘sister’ and part of the same family, then it seemed like a great idea to try it. Rincón means ‘a nook or corner’ suggesting somewhere cosy and informal.
I’d booked and a very friendly waitress showed us to a table in the dining area at the back of the bar. Menus came and we ordered wine (a red Tempranillo [£5.95] for Elsa; a glass of white Rioja [£6.75] for me).
The menu is mainly tapas and the slightly larger raciones. We spent some time choosing plates to share. I was keen to try the ‘Rincón’s signature tapa’ of Single Fried Quail’s Egg with Chorizo, served on bread (£2.95). We ordered one each and these came first. They were wonderful; the egg perfectly cooked so the yolk ran as you cut into it and with the chorizo it made a glorious mouthful of food.
Next came our ‘Selection of Cheese – Mature Manchego (sheep’s milk), Asturian Blue Cheese (cows’ milk) and Queso al Vino (mild sheep’s milk cheese from Aragón, aged in red wine’ (£9.95). Served with small pieces of quince jelly, grapes and bread, this was a lovely selection of cheeses.
‘Tender Baby Squid’ came in a rich ink sauce (£8.50).
Elsa was keen to have the ‘Pimientos de Padron’ (£6.50) and I wasn’t quite so keen but went along with it. I’m so glad I did for they were really good and I definitely ate my share in the end.
There were three kinds of croquetas on the menu and the ‘Tabla de Croquetas’ (£8.75) offered two of each kind to share. There was ‘Jamon and chicken’, ‘Bacalao (cod)’ and ‘Mushroom’. Hot and oozingly soft in the middle with crunchy breadcrumbed casings, these were gorgeous and fun to have the different ones to try.
It’s always a little hard to know how much to order with tapas and little plates to share, but of course you can always order more along the way. However, we’d got it just about right and were very happy with what we’d eaten.
Soon after we’d started our meal the live music began. Rincón has live jazz or blues music every Sunday; on Thursday there’s Flamenco & Spanish guitar.
The music was great: there was Tim Whitehead, one of our foremost tenor saxophonists and Phil Harrison on keyboard (ex The Korgis who became famous for their hit ‘Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime’ in 1980, which he played at the end). I love live jazz and listening to Tim play his saxophone up close was fantastic. I could have happily sat there all night listening to them but we’d had a busy day and Elsa had a long trip back across London, so we left while the music was still playing. But I can’t wait to go back – for great tapas, great music and some Flamenco. Rincón Bar Español is a great find in Richmond!
For more about Rincón Bar Español and their live music evenings, click here.