Korto, a tapas cafe specialising in wholesome flavours of the Southern Mediterranean to North Africa and the Middle East, has launched a dinner menu. Cara checks it out.

Last Friday evening I invited my mum to review Korto with me. Korto is a North London café that recently launched dinner on Fridays and Saturdays with a focus on wholesome Mediterranean dishes, mostly tapas style.

I was quite looking forward to my visit after I checked out Korto’s menu. Spanish cuisine is one of my favourites. I also recently came back from Las Palmas, so I was really missing my tapas.

Going with my mum made me both excited and slightly nervous too, as I often say how much I love tapas and how difficult it is to find a decent and reasonably priced place in England, especially outside of Central London.

My mum has not actually tried many tapas before. She lives in the countryside and not a fan of central London.

This being not quite the centre, I convinced her to join me and all that was needed now was for the dishes to meet our high expectations and they did, with my mum falling as much in love with tapas as me. 

The dishes that impressed us most were basically all of them, pretty much, but I’ll start with rosemary cured manchego and quince jelly. We both enjoy quince and since we’d already finished a stash of quince jelly I brought back from the Canary Islands it was very welcome that evening.

The quince jelly was more home made style with a crisp fruit kick. It was also softer and less jelly like. The rosemary on manchego worked very well. It was a complete dish with sweet, a little sour, milky and herbal palate.

Manchego was followed by marinated anchovies with a generous spinach pesto glob, which we ended up dipping sourdough into as it was just too good to leave behind.

While I was enjoying the anchovies, which are prepared on premises I was told, a plate of salt cod brandade was quickly disappearing next to mum. The brandade, salt cod croquettes, were exceptionally good.

It was a sizeable portion too, and we were left craving more. They were just perfect, a golden crisp thin coating and fluffy and creamy inside.

We also shared spinach and blue cheese croquettes with black aioli and pardon peppers. A Mediterranean tapas evening would not be complete without croquettes and pardon peppers before moving onto the mains.

When our tapas from the main menu arrived Korto started to get really buzzing. We had one party group outside behind us and one larger party group indoors, getting merry on the wine they were ordering. It was an entertaining Friday. 

My mum had pistachio lamb kofta accompanied by pale green thinly sliced vegetable, which neither of us could figure out. We still do not know what it was but it was mellow in flavour and went well with spices rich koftas.

She paired it with smoky, spicy potatoes and vegan aioli, recommended by our lovely waiter. The potatoes were quite a bit like patatas bravas, spiced on a creamy sauce bed. They were very satisfying.

Meanwhile I went for a grilled octopus, smoky aubergine and chipotle oil. That was a natural choice for me. I knew I would be ordering octopus the first time I saw the menu, which was a week prior.

It was not my top favourite dish that evening. I felt there were too many flavours there. There was paprika, smokiness and spice. I do admit that many find octopus bland so they seek additional flavours ,but for me personally I find it clashes with the mellow sweetness of octopus, which was very tender, by the way.

We were getting full, so it was time for the dessert and the coffee. I learned that Korto have launched their brand of organic coffee Fireheart, which they roast on premises.

I saw the roasting room and it is pretty impressive. Fireheart has quite a wide range of coffees and all of it is sold in recycling or compostable packaging, including Nespresso compatible pods.

Needless to say I had to try a cup. I paired my lovely flat white with a creamy basque cheesecake, blueberry compote and side crumb.

My mum stole a sizeable portion of the compote from me, despite, having her own dessert – chocolate brownie with dark chocolate foam, toasted hazelnuts and caramel.

I did the same in return and scooped some of the chocolate foam and the brownie, which was rich, fudgy and chewy. An expected standard brownie description yet not many bakers achieve that fudgy texture. 

We had a splendid family evening and it was worth a journey, which was fairly quick actually. Korto is a delightful café and restaurant with a relaxed ambience, serving high quality dishes with a good wine list from old and new world including an English sparkling Pinot Chardonnay at very competitive prices.

It is a gem, the kind that is hard to find especially past zone 2.

Korto – 126 Alexandra Park Rd, Muswell Hill, London N10 2AH

Dinner menu is available on Friday and Saturday.