Rambla, Soho: restaurant review

The biggest restaurant from Catalan-American chef Victor Garvey builds on a burgeoning Soho empire, bringing a characteristically authentic taste of Barcelona to Dean Street

What's the draw

However you feel about the rise of small plates in London, we refuse to believe there's anyone who doesn't like great tapas. Rambla – like its sister restaurants Sibarita, the recently closed Encant and the soon-to-open Bar Jaleo – delivers just that: uncomplicated plates of Catalan classics (with the occasional twists) that are big on flavour and texture, with the odd bit of theatricality thrown in for good measure.

What to drink

While you might not actually be in Barcelona, your taste buds won't know otherwise, so we'd suggest ordering as you would if you were there – grab wine by the glass, and holler for more if you find your vessel empty. We ordered a glass of Mirame's brut cava to start – an unfussy, bone-dry sparkling with the requisite green apple and conference pear notes. Then, with our tapas, a couple of glasses of the Ontañón Clarete, a Rioja rosado made with viura and tempranillo, with a sly touch of sweetness, a hint of raspberry yoghurt on the palate, and beyond that, pleasingly uncomplicated when surrounded by the fire and frenzy of the open kitchen.


What to eat

Like at the excellent Cervecería Catalana in Garvey's (semi-) native Barcelona, you could have a delicious snack or light lunch at Rambla if you just want it to play the hits, and they're all faithfully reproduced. Patatas bravas? Check. Pan con tomate? Check. Padrón peppers? Check. But you'd be remiss not to check out some of its signatures: hake in cava and anchovy cream arrives crunchy-skinned from a quick sojourn to the plancha, the sauce tangy and bagna-cauda-ish in its creaminess and umami punch. Then there's gamey, sausagey quail 'drumsticks', and octopus slow-cooked and then flash-fried, all crispy suckers and back-of-the-jaw saltiness, paprika-flecked and resting in verdant, Spanish olive oil and crispy garlic. If you get one dish, make it the chorizo flambé: a fat, punchy chorizo that arches its back as it's flambéed in heavy pear liqueur at the table, served with crunchy toast topped with caramelised onion and goat's cheese. It's a dish that sums up Garvey's way with food: simple in its creation, authentic in its ingredients, hugely flavour-forward – and just a little playful, too.

Tapas from £5, wine from £6.20 by the glass. 64 Dean Street, W1D 4QG;