- Location: 4 Panton Street, Haymarket, West End, Piccadilly, London, SW1Y 4DL (nearest tube is Piccadilly Circus)
- Date of Visit: Sunday 12th October
- Time of Table:30pm
- Deal Bought From: Living Social
- Deal Price: £21 for Two
- Dinner Companion: Twin sister, Jess
Getting More for your Money?
This dinner deal includes:
- Two Starters
- Two Main Courses
- Two Desserts
- One bottle of Cava
- For Two People
What we ate…
- Starter: Fried Potatoes with Garlic
- Main: Vegetable Pancake served with Boiled Rice and Vegetables
- Dessert: Crema Catalana
- Starter: Chorizo and Chickpeas in Tomato Sauce
- Main: Salmon with Potatoes and Vegetables
- Dessert: Crema Catalana
What we drank…
- Bottle of Cava
- Two glasses of Sangria (not included)
What did we think?
Andalucia is one of those very sneaky, hidden venues, which had we not had the voucher; we most likely would have completely bypassed it. Emerging from Piccadilly Circus tube station, we joined the throng of people eagerly, our growling tummies following the helpful blue dot on Google Maps as we found our way. Tucked down an unimposing side street, with neutral brown and cream signage, Andalucia has the appearance of a snug, family-run affair – nothing too fancy. We entered and saw that the first floor was completely empty, with some small tables for two on the left hand side, butted up against the white washed walls speckled with pale brown paving slabs in a typical Spanish style. The welcoming stairs leading down into the basement seemed to point us in the right direction, so we headed on down to find where all the people were.
Since we were dining quite early in the scheme of things, the restaurant was still on the empty side, which suited us fine, with only a couple of other tables full. Although the restaurant was poky and small, the owners had done all they could to make it enticing. Along the far wall was blue sofa seating, scattered with small matching blue cushions, the wall above the sofa mirrored to help reflect the space they had. The other walls continued the white washed theme with the interspersed stonework, making me think of fresh Spanish villas and cocktails on the patio. The majority of the tables were for two, the pale wooden square tables simply dressed with cutlery and white paper napkins. The tables that used the sofa were rather close together, offering little privacy, so it was good that the restaurant wasn’t yet busy.
Blue fairy lights entwined themselves playfully around the black cast iron work of the stair rails, adding some merriment. The same ironwork was used to frame mirrors hung on the wall, again to emphasise the notion of space, although the plain walls were also dotted with brightly coloured paintings to also add splashes of colour. The bar that you saw as soon as you descended the stairs also seemed to act like a front for the kitchen, with waitresses emerging every now and again.
We settled on a table for two next to the bar, using the sofa, and I snuggled comfortably against the scatter cushions. Our voucher entitled us to the full three courses, which I was looking forward to, as well as a luxurious bottle of Cava. The bubbles were beautiful and such a nice treat with our meal. Some champagne I find far too dry, but this Cava was light with a twang of sweetness as well as champagne’s trademark dry fizz. Served in small flutes, with the bottle propped in a silver ice bucket, it definitely set the tone for the meal nicely, with a fancy celebratory air.
Food wise, we could take our pick from the set menu, which was often used for theatre diners scoffing their dinner before taking in a show. Comparing the set menu to the actual menu, the only difference appeared to be that tapas were included on the main menu and yet absent from the set menu, so we still had all the same starters, main courses and desserts to pick from, which was quite handy. The selection was on the small side, and the options were very simplistic, taking very traditional dishes and just letting them sit on the menu blankly – I couldn’t see any additional creativity or thoughtfulness behind the menu which was disappointing. Price wise, the set menu was usually just under £10 per person. Since our voucher cost £21, we worked this out to mean that the value of our meal was that we basically got the bottle of plonk for free, but food wise, it was pretty much the same.
Although toying between two fried potato options for my starters, I eventually settled on the one with garlic. Anticipating garlic cloves, maybe a form of dressing or sauce, I was instead given a plain white tapas dish, with cubes of fried potatoes scattered within. Slapped in the middle was a medium sized dollop of garlic mayonnaise. Although this suited me, it wasn’t how it was described on the menu, and I confess I was expecting something a bit fancier, as well as a bit heartier. When both of our starters arrived, it seemed as if they had been taken from the tapas menu, as that was the size and style in which they were presented. The potatoes were delicious; perfectly golden on the outside and in robust cubes, the potato within was gloriously fluffy and soft, a beautiful creamy colour. Dunked in my garlic mayo, it was very moreish, however the small dish soon emptied!
For main course, I decided to do things differently, and I actually went for the veggie option, which actually sounded really tasty. It was a pancake, stuffed with spinach, ricotta cheese, almonds and sultanas. Loving all of these ingredients, I couldn’t think of anything better than having them all encased within a soft and squidgy pancake, so I ordered eagerly. When the dish arrived however, I couldn’t help but be dismayed at its size – the portion sizes were so small. Jess commented that it was lucky she had had a large lunch as there is no way these plates would have filled her up. Not having had the large lunch, I bitterly agreed. I only had one anaemic looking pancake, the filling not even having the decency to go all the way up to the ends, despite the pancake only being about 15cm in length if that. Although it was soft and an ideal base for the spinach, I did have trouble spotting the other so called ingredients. I believe I came across one almond and one sultana throughout the entire pancake and there was no sign of any ricotta. So, the spinach pancake was nice and I did like it, but it was so simple, not as advertised and uncommonly small and under filled. The boiled vegetables served with it were pretty standard, although the tasty tomato Mediterranean sauce pepped it up massively, and I also made sure to mix this with my boiled rice to give it all extra flavour. Disappointingly, the best word to describe the main course is the very mediocre ‘nice’. It was nice – it was edible and pleasant, but no-where near the quality of food I would have expected in a restaurant.
Still feeling peckish, we were looking forward to our desserts, the exotically named custard Crema Catalana, which transpired to basically be a crème brulee. However once again, portion sizes thwarted the dish hugely. Served in rustic terracotta ramekins, the vanilla custard at the base was so thin, it just about covered the bottom, the hard caramel top sparsely sugared and speckled, as if they had run out of sugar halfway through. The bits that did yield to the spoon were yummy, however you could even fill a teaspoon in one scoop there was that little custard. It was just such a shame as the flavour was gorgeous and the texture was so superbly silky, this could have been a real winner if they actually gave you enough of it to eat. As expected, we pretty much ate them in four mouthfuls each.
Since no trip to Spain is complete without our favourite beverage, we couldn’t resist adding to our voucher by ordering two glasses of classic sangria. Served in wine glasses and with a rich red colour, this was spot on and hit the nail on the head perfectly. Intensely fruity with a full bodied punch of hearty red wine flavour, it was divine and probably the best course of the evening! Although devoid of fruit, it was still lovely and good conclusion to the meal.
Making a second reservation? I highly doubt it. We resorted to hitting a nearby Café Concerto after our meal, as I still had space to spare and dessert hadn’t hit my sweet tooth sufficiently. The menu was incredibly basic and uninspiring, although three courses for £10 for their usual set menu isn’t bad price wise at all. Unfortunately however this quality carried over into the food and simple prices get simple standards. The staff really need some customer service skills too. They pretty much ignored us the entire time and when they did bring us food or drinks, they were all so grumpy, uncommunicative and moody. They hid away out the back to avoid customers, and it was lucky we chose a seat directly next the bar, otherwise I doubt we would have got served at all.
On the whole, nice, quaint little place, suitable for quick and cheap fodder if you want to pop in off the street for something to eat that won’t rock the boat. Probably suitable for families and fussy eaters although it was a bit bland and boring for my taste. Service needs some serious work as well.