Opera Tavern // Covent Garden // London

Opera Tavern, Salt Yard and Dehesa are all sibling restaurants specialised in Italian and Spanish tapas.  In between Covent Garden and Aldwych, Opera Tavern is the latest addition, where the specialty is Iberico pork and the different ways to serve it: rare, charcoal grilled and cured.

Credit where credit is due – being just a step from all the main theatres, the location is perfect, and the work done on the facade and the dining room is very cosy chic.  Unfortunately, shortly after you’ve entered, cosy becomes skimpy, and chic turns into smoky.  It won’t come as a surprise that the restaurants main feature is the charcoal grill, as the smell will be your extra guest for the evening; you’re likely to need to go to the dry-cleaners the next day.

The truth is that these kinds of annoyances can easily be forgiven if the food is good, and yes it is.  The freshness and quality of all ingredients are unquestionable: the pork is super tasty, the scallops melt in your mouth, and the courgette flowers are so crusty, sweetened with a nice drizzle of honey.

All of the plates are well balanced, well cooked and look good, so the food is a pleasure to see and taste.  Though, given the small sizes of the servings, they aren’t exactly big enough to share as you might expect; they aren’t cheap either.

Worst of all though is the service.  It’s super slow (or completely absent) and borders on rude at occasions.  Even if you end-up deducting the gratuity, the bill may make you think twice before visiting again.

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