One of the finest Indian restaurants in Essex Caraway Indian Brasserie, in Gants Hill, has won the prestigious Best Local Indian Restaurant Award in the Restaurant Guides
The Hart Brothers
The Hart Brothers, who have made Quo Vadis and Fino into such success stories
Poland St, London W1
Cost: about Â£20
Curious, isnât it, how â and why â people come up with names for restaurants. There are address names (190 Queensgate), descriptive names (Parisienne Chop House), all of which are crystal clear. But then there are the puzzlers and Amber, a Soho cocktail/tapas bar falls into this category. Why Amber, one canât help but wondering, because it is difficult to imagine a place less frozen in time.
What can be said about Amber, however, is that the downstairs cocktail bar is a cracker with a look thatâs as easy and appetising to drink in as the soundly made drinks list which pays special attention to rum and tequila drinks. As this is not an especially expensive place to eat, perhaps the budget might stretch to a shot of Pyrat Cask 23, a rum from Anguilla that is over 30 years old, oozing extraordinary organoleptic qualities such as chocolate, vanilla, coffee, Terryâs chocolate orange, dried apricots â a stonker that will forever change your mind about rum as a digestif. All this comes at a hefty price, Â£22.30, probably more than you would spend eating some of the well-made traditional and modern tapas.
These run to Spanish classics such as tortilla Espanola; lovely, puffy little croquetas de bacalao, squidgy inside, slightly salty and crisp-fried; and gambas al ajillo or pulpo a la Gallega (grilled octopus with smoked paprika). Then there are some more innovative tapas like frigideira de camarao e casquinhos, prawn and crab frittata with mango mayonnaise; salt cod salad with fried banana; and tofu fried with a green herb sauce.
These little morsels are supplemented by daily specials and all are enhanced by a very well chosen list of wines from Spain, Portugal and Latin America, a very classy varietal list and so much more than one would ever expect from a tapas bar.