The London neighbourhood of Newington Green flies somewhat under the radar. Tucked next to Stoke Newington and Dalston — two areas oft-mentioned in the media as havens of trendiness; where cafes, delis and restaurants seem to open weekly — it houses luminaries such as myself, but not many restaurants of note. So when a defunct shopfront shows signs of development, those of us obsessively on the hunt for new edible experiences hope something tasteful and tasty will arise.
Trangallán has teased us for a while. The smart striped monochrome facade has been in place for many months. The word on the street was... 'tapas'. The suspense is now over, it's open, and I'm tipsy with relief after my first visit. Newington Green is now home to a cosy and charming restaurant that I look forward to revisiting.
The service is friendly, three waitresses buzzed around the room efficiently, and offered guidance on drink and food selections. And you may have a few questions — this is not your standard tapas menu. Those hoping for fried potato cubes dolloped with tomato sauce, walk on. There is a fresh, inventive flair behind the dishes here, and some interesting flavour combinations.
You have a feeling you're in good hands when the olives and bread hit the table — proper stuff. The bread, according to the menu, is baked for the restaurant daily at nearby Datte Focco. More details on their food sourcing can be found on the menu ... (click photos to enlarge).
We tried two types of sherry, 'Manzanilla En Rama, I Think' and 'Lustau Puerto Fino'; they went down nicely and played well with the food. The tortilla here is certainly (in my far-from-expert tapas opinion) 'untraditional'. A glass bowl arrived lined with soft, slow-cooked onions, topped with shards of well-seasoned potato and... a raw egg yolk. The waitress explained we should stir in the egg. The simple ingredients are surprisingly big on taste and the punctured yoke binds it all together.
A carrot salad with coriander and almonds was wonderfully zingy and fresh. A superb balance of flavours.
Grilled tiger prawns, girolles and button onions arrived ensconced in a foam of broth. Foam — a divisive chefy accoutrement I wasn't expecting on a tapas plate. The prawns were well cooked, and the girolles, a bang on-season trend.
A mammoth slab of gorgeous quince jam arrived, overlapping a cowering wedge of Tetilla cheese. The jam was a honey-scented delight, but personally I prefer a greater cheese-to-fruit ratio. I'd love to see a Spanish cheese board offered here.
A board of sweet treats summed up the menu well. Classics (flan) mingling with inventive combinations: a quenelle of rich ganache was given zip with a sprinkling of sea salt, but I found the fruity olive oil it was sat in a confusing contrast. The refreshing pineapple and basil shot was a flavour pairing new to me, and like many creations that came out of that little kitchen, one I look forward to trying again.
And for those of you whom this detail is important, yes, they have nice bathrooms, which carry on the look of the dining areas and confirm a great attention to detail has been made.
As the air chills down and the night starts to encroach on the afternoon, it's warming to know that I'm now in walking distance of a little piece of Spain. I'll be back to try more of Trangallán's bright and creative cooking again soon. Welcome to Newington Green, where you can sip sherry, out on the terrace.