We finally got around to eating at Trangallan last night. It's next door to our 'local' - the Acoustic Bar. Have looked at the menu many times over the last year or two with mixed feelings. Tempted by the Galician element but put off by the perhaps over-clever permutations of ingredients and the prices that are on the high side. I did go in one early lunchtime to get a take-away portion of tortilla - for me a litmus test for any Spanish place whether in the UK or in Spain. Expensive, but excellent. So still feeling a bit mixed about it but resolved to try it one day.
Last night, we went out for an early dinner after a day sorting and cleaning the kitchen. We intended to have salads at the Acoustic, but their kitchen had just closed. So now was the time to try Trangallan.
Not having booked, we accepted the offer of a small, strange table for two that is built into the bar. One of the table edges is carved to follow the curvature of a small part of the massive vintage dresser (that support the large marble top that is the bar) and glued to it! The whole room is a bit like an abstract version of a northern Spanish, early 20th century living room, with elements of an old-style Spanish bar and infused with some trendy, distressed, controlled-chaos Hoxton-inspired Dalston features.
So I should have felt uncomfortable, but I didn't! The combination works quite well and the staff were not po-faced and quite helpful, so the only slight discomfort was being at the small strange bar table.
As for the food itself: the tortilla clasica was indeed the classic version that I fell in love with when I first went to Spain over 40 years ago. My wife's hake was very good, with 'rancid potatoes' [that's how they were listed on the menu], but they were delicious and not actually rancid - cooked in a mixture of cheese, pancetta and chorizo. My tenderloin was excellent - tender with a great flavour. But each of our portions were remarkably modest, almost nouvelle cuisine style. So a bit like paying main course prices for 'raciones'.
The cheese board was fine, could have done with a bit more of the tetilla.
The tapas of desserts had some interesting flavour combinations. The chocolate mousse was excellent both in flavour and texture, but beware of the little mound of rock salt on top that looks like burnt sugar, but why in a pool of olive oil? Baked fruit (apple? quince?) with cream lightly seasoned with, I think, dried basil was interesting. The other two things were OK too but none of the adventurous combinations of flavours had the same positive impact as in the savoury dishes.
Having moaned about the prices, maybe the total result makes this a bit unfair. The total bill was fine [we didn't have any wine or sherry, just shared a bottle of beer - we're lightweights - so that would have ramped up the total cost] and we both felt truly satisfied without feeling bloated.
So all in all, a very positive dining experience. The risky decor, menu and flavour combinations all defied logic and worked very well for us. Will go back for a special occasion, either with our daughters or with carefully chosen friends as my courage doesn't match that of the Trangallan owners!
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