THERE was a time when the British tourist would jet off to Spain on holiday and then spend two weeks eating nothing but English breakfasts and Sunday roasts.
Fortunately for many a British palette a good number have since discovered just how amazing traditional Spanish cuisine can be, and the good news is there’s no longer any need to get on an aeroplane to enjoy an authentic taste of Spain.
Flamenco has recently opened its doors in one of Warwick’s most historic buildings – the 17th century grade II-listed Tudor House on West Street. It’s about as far from traditional Spanish or Moorish in style as could be imagined. A wonderfully higgledy-piggledy building with seemingly not a straight line in the entire building. If its walls could talk they would have many a tale to tell from down the centuries.
Thankfully that rich history has been more than maintained and the new restaurant and bar incorporated into the wonderfully quirky typically Tudor building rather than vice versa. It makes for a unique and special dining experience.
The welcome roar of the large fire in the comfortable bar offers a great place to enjoy a pre-meal drink, including from a wide range of cocktails, both alcoholic and non.
But Flamenco is about food. The restaurant opened in April and marks the second venture for restaurateur Alex Clayton who recently won Best Spanish Restaurant award for Tasca Dali in High Street which he opened seven years ago.
Alex is the beating heart of Flamenco. Very hands on, he clearly has a genuine passion for Spanish cuisine, and he is keen to share that passion with diners.
Flamenco uses authentic and traditional cooking methods specialising in tapas, paella cooked over flame and hot stone cooking – meat cooked on a hot stone. The latter cooking style was actually the inspiration for the restaurant’s name Flame’nCo.
The tapas selection is such it can be a starter or even the basis to create an entire meal. Dishes include the Flame Deli Board – a carefully chosen selection of Spanish cured meats and cheeses, the traditional delicate Spanish black pudding Morcilla, a daily different filled croquette, a smashed egg dish made with cured ham, potatoes with the eggs smashed on top, and Padron Peppers, a mix of hot and not so hot mini green peppers from a particular region of Galicia. They are five among many.
Ask anyone to name a Spanish dish and chances are they will say paella. There’s a good reason the dish is so popular, and every mouthful of the superb chicken one we enjoyed, which was served with asparagus strips, lemon wedges and alioli, was testament to why. It was savouried with a soft rounded red wine. Alex is proud to say Flamenco’s paellas are as good as any in Spain. It was every bit as good as the best we have had in Spain, and a good deal better than many. Cooked with socarrat – a technique of the Levantine Coast which gives a toasted base to the rice – it is rich and intense, lingering long on the palette and in the memory.
Flamenco unsurprisingly already appears to be gaining quite a reputation. Fellow diners on the busy Thursday night we visited
appeared every bit as satisfied.
A small portrait of Elizabeth I hangs by the fireplace in the bar – a reminder of the buildings Tudor origins. While she may have had her run-ins with the Spanish Armada, one can’t help but think she would approved of the magnificent Spanish flavours at Flamenco.