48 Frith Street, W1D 4SF www.lobostapas.co.uk
Restaurants change fast in Soho. It seems that just a day ago a hot dog restaurant was at this address and now, almost overnight, there’s this new place instead. It must have happened in stop motion, because I walk past almost every day and I can’t recall seeing a single builder.
Anyway, it’s all been done very nicely in the’garito’ (Spanish neighbourhood joint) style. The ground floor is intimate and busy with a space for jamon carving and charcuterie, while on the first floor you can feel the atmosphere of the family house it must have been centuries ago. Here you can sit by the big windows, look out onto Frith Street and think’Oooh. this light will be so good for my Instagram feed!’
Otherwise, at the back of the room, generously open to view is a decent sized kitchen with lively staff working fast and hard for you to look at instead.
The first Lobos was, and still is, over in Borough Market and they rode the meat wave like a super surfer. The demand by millennials to eat meat, meat and more meat until their overworked colons, already weakened by years of burger abuse, collapsed meant Lobos was very popular.
Here in Soho they have the space and the clientele to be a bit classier, a bit more like a real restaurant and less like a bar with food, and with the new restaurant has come something a meat-eater might find difficult to swallow – more seafood.
Not me though, just back from central Spain hunting truffles I’d had so much meat in five days that I was thinking of going vegetarian, so once installed upstairs I go straight for the prawns. Simply cooked and served heads on, they have deep sweetness and a hint of garlic. More a taster than a starter, they get us messy and hungry.
Unique to Lobos Soho, octopus with sweet potato and chorizo is a bit scary; the leg laid out like it has come fresh from an autopsy. That doesn’t bother us, we lay into it like Captain Ahab defending his ship. The meat is so soft, so buttery and so, so good, especially when you fork it up with a small piece of finely frazzled chorizo and some of the sweet potato lying underneath in tender slices.
Lobster with chicken pot,’to share’, I am told sternly, is a mighty dish the claws waving cheerfully at us out of the pot as the chicken leg lurks off to one side waiting its turn. The baby potatoes are undercooked, I can’t eat them, but the lobster is fine. Split for serving, it’s tail halves are packed with meat and its juices have permeated the chicken, which is tender and tasty.
Best bits of a lobster though are the claws and Lobos provide the crackers for us to get cracking. As usually happens when I apply final deadly force the claw gives with a loud bang and sends juice flying in all directions. So smelling like trawlermen we happily pull out every shred of the meat and lick our fingers happily.
However, meat had to be had, so we have the sharing mixed meat’platter’, the IbericoPork Selection made up of Pork Fillet, Secreto and Presa.
Now I don’t need to tell you that Iberico pork is the daddy of swine. I’ll eat it over any kind of beef any day of the week. And it has to be cooked just right, which means rare and that means pink and that can mean people sending it back. Please don’t.
The secreto is the best bit, as it should be, the’hidden’ cut of Iberico pork with loads of good fat that seems to melt on the lips. Mojo crisps which are like ordinary crisps but tastier, contrast with all that fat. The preso is a leaner cut, but just as tender, while the fillet is a fillet and none the worse for that.
On the side some sweetly roasted pepper and a Trinxat, which is a potato cabbage and bacon fritter. Rather good this is, I could eat a lot more of it but lunchtime has to end at some point so we drag ourselves out minus dessert, a bit fatty but happy.
There’s lots of good stuff to try at Lobos so why bother queuing up for one of those blooming hoppers next door when you might actually get to sit down straightaway in here? If you’re hungry like the wolf, it’s a no brainer.