Dehesa is one of a trio of highly popular sister tapas restaurants in central London; the other two being Salt Yard, and the recently opened Opera Tavern. I had been trying to go to Dehesa, highly recommended by a friend, for the longest time but had never been able to get my act together sufficiently in advance (at least a week is generally necessary) to book a table. Finally, armed with tickets for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Wizard of Oz playing at the nearby Palladium, I booked pre-theatre dinner two weeks ahead of time and managed to secure a table. It might only have been 6pm when we arrived, but the restaurant was already packed. It is small - most of the seating is on elevated bar stools at communal tables, with just a limited number of individual tables on the side.
The menu was a mix of Italian charcuterie on one side and Spanish tapas on the other. We ordered exclusively from the tapas section on this occasion. First to arrive was Grilled Scallops with Spicy Portobello Mushroom Duxelle, crème fraîche and Smoked Paprika oil, which was excellent. Scallop dishes can sometimes be rather bland, but not in this instance – the accompaniments meshing very well with, and imparting a lovely flavour to, the scallops.
Courgette Flowers with Monte Enebro and Honey was really good too, and in fact my favourite dish of the night – beautifully deep-fried courgette flowers stuffed with cheese and drizzled with honey to add a touch of sweetness and lightness – superb. A special of Ham Croquetas with Manchego Cheese and Alioli was crisp on the outside, with a smooth paste on the inside – quite nice, but a bit heavy after a while.
Chargrilled Beef Onglet with Celeriac & Truffle Purèe, Curly Kale and Girolles was also passable – the beef well cooked with a hint of sweetness, the truffle taste present but not overpowering. Confit Old Spot Pork Belly with Rosemary Scented Cannellini Beans was disappointing – the crackling not crispy enough, the meat lacking in flavour. The presentation – a huge slab of pork belly on a bed of beans didn’t exactly lend itself to easy sharing either, and tapas is supposed to be for sharing after all. Chorizo a la Plancha was perfectly fine, but not difficult to get right.
In a nutshell…
London is, happily, not short of quality tapas bars and Dehesa can deservedly take its place amongst them. A couple of very good dishes, but also a number of just reasonable ones, meant Dehesa cannot quite lay claim to being the very best, however.
25 Ganton Street, London, W1F 9BP
Average Price: £25-£35