Having opened back in 2011, Covent Garden’s much loved Opera Tavern is now back up and running after a swanky refurbishment with a new menu to go with it. Known for their Spanish and Italian-style tapas, Opera Tavern now has a stylish bar on the ground floor, which you should def sidle up to for a plate of pre-theatre charcuterie or a nightcap on your way home.
We were dining in the slightly more formal upstairs area where the candlelit room hasn’t lost any of its buzzy atmosphere.
Kicking off with a glass of cava (what else?) we caught up over jamón & manchego croquetas and their infamous courgette flowers. These have been such a firm favourite since Opera Tavern opened that they didn’t dare take them off the menu. Lightly battered and deep-fried, you should order one per person as you’re not going to want to share. Stuffed with goats cheese and drizzled with blossom honey, they’re a modern-day classic. Other old favourites that haven’t gone anywhere include their Ibérico pork burger and N’duja scotch egg – a nod to the restaurant’s previous life as a pub.
Opera Tavern’s real showstopper dish is a must-have sharing plate of Iberico pork served with piquillo pepper relish & pork glaze. Aside from that, new dishes we tried included the pretty as a picture lemon sole which is presented with swirls of courgette ribbons, basil & a creamy brown shrimp sauce. Great big juicy chargrilled king prawns in their shells came doused in a warming chilli-licked garlic tomato sauce with chunks of warm focaccia hidden beneath, helpfully sucking up every last bit of the sauce. A delicate little light and dainty dish of black linguine with calamari bolognese was a perfect example of Italian flavours in tapas-sized portions. Everything is meant to be shared, even the pasta. Save some room for the deconstructed meringue, with soft sticky caramelised peaks and zippy lemon curd and sorbet.
In true Mediterranean-style, Opera Tavern is the perfect spot for a plate of jamón or piquillo peppers at any time of day, whether it’s a leisurely lunch or a romantic dinner a deux.