Metres from Nanluoguxiang’s hordes
of tourists is a beautiful vine-covered
courtyard with a rock garden waterfall
where you can eat by moonlight.
owners of the new Tapas Café quite
rightly decided it would be a waste of
a Qing dynasty villa to bastardise it
into looking like a Spanish hacienda,
so the result is tasty Spanish tapas
in a romantic, Chinese setting.
From a variety of starters we
sample the spicy garlic prawns
(48RMB) and parma ham with honey
The generous heap
of butterflied prawns, which sizzle
in a black pot of garlic and chilli oil,
justifies the price, but while the melon
is the perfect Mediterranean summer
dish of ripe fruit wrapped in wafers
of high-quality ham, the portion is
As well as tapas, the Café offers
a range of salads and grilled meats.
The fresh tuna salad (45RMB), with its
lightly grilled tuna slivers served on
a bed of salad, quail’s eggs, olives and
peppers, is flavoursome and tasty.
The main course of charcoal-grilled
beef tenderloin (88RMB) arrives as
two large medallions of rosemary-scented meat. Oddly, this seems to be
it; sides of French fries or vegetables
are optional and undersized.
room, however, for the warm chocolate
torte and vanilla ice cream (40RMB),
with melted cocoa insides that explode
across the plate.
If you’re looking for some negatives
then the wine list is too brief, and
there’s no Spanish wine or beer.
However, the effort that has gone into
its ambiance and menu – and the fact
that it’s a great place to take a date on
a balmy night – outweighs any real
drawbacks. Alice Hutton