Amid the new restaurants cropping up all over the King’s Cross area, Camino has remained steady and true. It’s a chain, but one that has maintained high standards and quality despite its multiple locations. There are currently four restaurants in London (King’s Cross, Bankside, Monument and Blackfriars) plus two bars (Copa de Cava specialises in cava and Bar Pepito in sherry). In fact, Bar Pepito is adjacent to Camino, both tucked away in Varnishers Yard in The Regent Quarter, a short walking distance from King’s Cross and St Pancras stations. Unless you are “in the know”, you could be forgiven for overlooking it. Its charming location in a hidden courtyard feels like a world away from bustling London.
Camino’s interior is all brick and wood, with stunning circular roof lights letting in the sun’s rays. The place is well laid out with a sweeping bar and tables that are close together but don’t encroach on personal space. Lively music enhances the cosy ambience but doesn’t overpower it. Service is welcoming and friendly.
Camino’s focus is on authentic tapas from all over Spain with a slight bias to the north as Executive Chef Nacho del Campo hails from the Basque country, widely recognised as the gastronomic heartland. Call them tapas or pintxos… either way they are supremely delicious. The menu features all of the better-known favourites such as patatas bravas, tortillas and croquetas but there are some other fantastic dishes for the more adventurous. All of the tapas go extremely well with Camino’s impressive drinks list featuring the best in wine, beer, cider, brandy, sherry and cava from Spain as well as gin (both Spanish and British) and cocktails with a Spanish twist.
Our evening got off to a good start with a bottle of Estrella Damm smooth refreshing lager for Paulo and a nice light cocktail for me. Aptly named Seville Spritz, it was a delightful mix of Absolut Citron vodka, Vilarnau Brut Reserva cava, Triple Sec and Angostura Bitters muddled with fresh orange, mint and lemon.
We were served complimentary Manzanilla Olives with lemon zest, thyme and rosemary whilst we pondered the fabulous tapas menu, mainly divided into Cheese, Charcutería, Fish & Seafood, Meat and Vegetarian categories. Sections for nibbles and platters also proved useful. The Mixto Platter contained all of our favourites so we ordered that plus some extra dishes, including a basket of warm, fresh bread. The dishes were served pretty much all at the same time and our little table filled up quickly, so we were relieved when our helpful waitress put a small side table next to us. What a great idea!
The Mixto Platter included Crispy Baby Squid with lemon and alioli on the side; patatas bravas with a proper spicy sauce; four tasty Croquetas de Jamón made with Serrano ham; a skillet of sliced Chorizo de Rioja with cherry tomatoes, red onions, piquillo peppers and rosemary; Padrón Peppers (which seemed to have the sea salt omitted but we remedied that by using the shaker at the table); and Cod Brandada, smooth creamy cod stuffed in a wood-fired red pepper on a rich saffron cream sauce. I was surprised how much I loved this last dish, as I’m really not a big salt cod fan.
We stepped outside our tapas comfort zone and ordered the Arroz Negro, described as Camino’s signature dish. We weren’t sure what to expect and making anything with squid ink look appetising is a real challenge but once we sampled the cuttlefish black rice topped with alioli, we were hooked. This dish was simply phenomenal with its excellent texture, rich creamy flavour and non-fishy taste.
We opted for a little luxury by ordering the highest quality ham on the menu, Jamón Ibérico 5 Jotas made from 100% pure breed black Iberian pigs that feed on acorns so the flavour is ingrained into their tender meat. This legendary jamón is air cured for 36 to 42 months. It’s widely regarded as the finest ham on the planet and it did not disappoint!
The Gambas Ajillo were very garlicky, as they should be. These plump, juicy prawns were cooked in a succulent garlic, chilli and white wine sauce that we mopped up with fresh, warm bread.
The Morcilla de Burgos arrived after we finished, due to a mix up somewhere along the line, as we were originally served a dish we hadn’t ordered (Huevos Rotos). However, no matter as this allowed us to pace ourselves. The black pudding was rich and meaty with a good crumbly texture. The slices sat on a bed of alegría peppers described as “feisty”. They were indeed, with the spicy heat kicking in a few seconds later. They were a good contrast in terms of colour and flavour to the dark, soft and salty black pudding.
The desserts at Camino are named Tapas Dulces (sweet tapas) but they’re proper puddings, not small dishes. Paulo tucked into a lovely slice of almond tart, a Galician specialty topped with clotted cream and sliced almonds, enjoyed with an excellent espresso and a glass of Lepanto Solera Gran Reserva expertly warmed over hot water.
I had the Chocolate con Churros and the linguist in me noticed that chocolate was the main feature, not the churros (or it would have been called Churros con Chocolate). The star of the show was indeed Valhrona artisan chocolate… rich, decadent and addictive. There was a lot left once I finished dipping the light, non-greasy churros into the sauce. It was easily sippable, with a spoon or straight from the cup.
Camino is truly a little corner of Spain with a wonderful selection of authentic tapas and a remarkable drinks list. I find myself returning time and again for my favourites but there are also many exciting tapas to try. Be sure to make a reservation as Camino is insanely popular… and with good reason!
The owners, managers or staff did not invite me to visit this establishment and were unaware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. It is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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