A discreet culinary gem
REVIEW by Charlotte Civil: Cigala, 54 Lamb Conduit’s Street, Bloomsbury, WC1N 3LW
This unassuming restaurant in the heart of fashionable Bloomsbury is a far cry from others in the heart of London which revel in the glitz and glamour of their design-led interiors rather than focusing on what’s important – the food – authentic Spanish cuisine – the main attraction here.
The interior is stripped back; whitewashed walls with wood panelling and circular globe ceiling lights which emit an ambient warm glow, while crisp white cloth covered tables and simple wooden chairs are dotted throughout each filled with diners enjoying the cosy, welcoming ambience of this intimate dining establishment.
Chef and founder of Cigala is Jake Hodges , previously head chef at the River Café and The French House, and a co-founder of Moro.
His beautifully unique menu with colourful and exciting dishes use the freshest and finest of produce including products sourced directly from Spain such as baby aubergines that come from a small town near Madrid and La Bomba rice from Valencia. Having embraced the culture and the flavoursome food spending many years living in Andalucia, every one of Hodge’s choices will reasonate with foodies who have sampled culinary favourites from the country’s many regions from North to South.
Delicious tapas like Espinacas a la Catalana- spinach with raisins, garlic and pine nuts and Higado a la Jerezana – pan-fried chicken livers with softened onions and Pedro Ximenez; triumphant mains like Fideus de Marisco – noodles with seafood and a selection of inspired desserts including Jake’s own creation – Mulhacen – an orange and saffron jelly, bitter chocolate mousse and black bean ice cream, all feature on the highly acclaimed menu.
And not forgetting those treats to get you started on this gastronomic journey such as olives and homemade bread served with extra virgin olive oil or my favourite, delicious alioli in which to dip it in. There’s an excellent wine list too with fruity reds and crisp whites that will complement any dish.
My dining companion and I perused the menu for what seemed like a lifetime – the waitress had to come back on two occasions – we finally decided on a selection of starters from the Tapas menu – Jamon y queso (Serrano ham and manchego cheese), Chorizo a la brasa (grilled homemade chorizo with fried breadcrumbs, peppers and cumin), and perhaps the most flavoursome dish I have had in a while the Higado a la jerezana (pan-fried chicken livers with softened onions and Pedro Zimenez), the onions and sweet dessert wine creating a gloriously rich, sweet sauce. From the seafood Tapas I couldn’t resist trying the Chipirones (deep fried baby squid).
For mains Mendo limon a la plancha (grilled lemon sole with broccoli, guindilla peppers and anchovy cream) was my choice while my friend went for a succulent Buey a la brasa (grilled aged 200g ribeye steak with hand cut chips and churrasco sauce. Now for a siesta!
It’s no wonder celebrities flock here – regular diners include Gillian Anderson, Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Grant. It’s very rare to find a discreet gastronomic gem and Cigala is just that.
cigala.co.uk • Instagram – @cigalalondon • Twitter- @CigalaLondon • Facebook- @cigalalondon