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Join the Tapas revolution

By Grand Central 4 Jun 2015

Small in size, big on flavour, tapas has taken the UK by storm. The demand for these fresh, unpretentious Spanish dishes has soared in recent years, as British diners want to experience a taste of authentic Spain. With a heavy emphasis on the social aspects of eating and drinking, tapas has evolved from humble beginnings as a free nibble in the taverns of Spain, to the lifestyle it is today. To the Spanish, tapas are not just delicious morsels of food. Instead, it is a whole culture of eating and socialising, complete with its own verb: to ‘tapear’ is to go out for tapas, spending a whole evening working your way from bar to bar, indulging in a drink and a nibble here, a tipple and a morsel there.

Spanish Chef and Entrepreneur Omar Allibhoy is on a quest to bring tapas in its most authentic form to the UK, recreating the bustling tapas bars of his native Madrid. His vision has been realised in the form of Tapas Revolution, where diners can expect all the dishes to be freshly prepared in-house, using quality products sourced from Spain, served alongside Spanish wines, Spanish craft beers and a typically convivial Spanish atmosphere. Tapas Revolution Birmingham, situated in Grand Central Birmingham, will be Omar’s fourth tapas bar opening, following the Spanish food mission he and his team began with Tapas Revolution in Westfield London (Shepherd’s Bush), Tapas Revolution in Bluewater (Kent) and Tapas Revolution Shoreditch.

The UK is not the only region to embrace the culture of tapas. In Mexico, ‘Cantinas Botaneras’ are emerging all over the country, taking the legacy of sophisticated bar food that tapas inspires and serving small dishes – ‘Botanas’ – alongside wines and cocktails. Similarly in Argentina, meetings and social gatherings might be conducted over ‘Picada’, sharing plates of meets and cheeses, evoking the communal spirit of tapas; whilst elsewhere in South America, Brazilian bars are returning to the very roots of tapas, serving ‘Tira-Gostos’, literally ‘strips’ of food, alongside late night drinks. Over in Europe, ‘Cicchetti’ is one of Venice’s culinary secrets. Venetian tapas, such as bite-sized bits of baccalà, or cod puree, smeared on toast and deep-fried olives and anchovies served alongside local wines and prosecco make for a sumptuous Venetian lunch.

So with delicious tapas menus emerging all over the world, it’s important to ask, what makes good tapas? The answer lies in fresh, seasonal, high quality ingredients, sourced from regional producers, which is certainly the mantra followed by the team at Tapas Revolution. Authentic Spanish tapas vary from region to region – you would be unlikely to find the same tapas in the northern Galician region as in the tapas bars of Andalucia, in the South. In the Basque region, where there’s an array of fish and seafood from the Atlantic Ocean, typical tapas dishes might include Tigres (stuffed mussels), whilst Zamburiñas (scallops marinated in tomato sauce), are popular in Galicia.Ultimately, though, whether you’re looking out onto a sunny Madrid street, or taking in a more British view, it’s the lively atmosphere, great company and good ingredients cooked simply that truly makes a tapas bar.

Photos courtesy of Tapas Revolution.

Dining, Grand Central