Written by Andrew Shaw.
My favourite thing to come out of Spain has for a long time been the football. After sampling some of the food at Olé Olé Tapas Bar and Restaurant, it is still the Classico. But Olé Olé runs it close.
The most painful thing about the place is getting there. If I say it is up Steep Hill and past the Cathedral, you will have some idea of how early you would have to set off to make your reservation on time.
But, trust me for a second: if you like Spanish food it will certainly be worth it. I do not necessarily feel that strongly towards it but I was willing to be swayed.
We will start with the paella. I did not get it. It was made fresh, which sounded great, but took 45 minutes to make, which was not. I did not want to check Facebook and Twitter for that long – I do that enough as it is – so instead I ordered a selection of tapas dishes.
First up were sautéed mixed vegetables, because sometimes I just want to pretend that I am an adult. They were in fact the least impressive thing I ate that night, but only because the calibre of the rest of the food was so high.
When judged alone, they were like the team that finishes fourth in La Liga – not bad, but nothing incredible. Next was a small bowl of chicken and seafood paella. As it was part of the tapas menu and not a totally separate dish, it did not take three quarters of an hour to cook.
Palates more defined than mine will probably be able to taste the difference, but to me it was still rice with extra bits thrown in. That is all paella ever is, and I liked it a lot.
The chilli prawns in garlic and the fried squid both came at the same time, so for a little while I felt like I was at an M&S inspired dinner party. They were my favourite things of the night, ranking even higher than the face one of the other diners pulled right after she tried her cherry brandy.
The good meal became a great one with dessert. On first sight, most of the offerings left me colder than the chilled rice pudding they served. In the end I plumped for the churros because they did not sound too bad. I ate my words one bite in and then tucked into the rest. Even the pot of chocolate sauce that came with it managed to live up to my impossibly high demands, simply by not tasting like feet. Good chocolate sauce is rarer than an English win at the Nou Camp and I was naturally overwhelmed.
Spanish might not be ranking as my favourite cuisine any time soon, but the food, atmosphere and overall experience of Olé Olé made me realise it has a place at the top of the table.
The restaurant is open from 12 noon to 2:30pm, and then once more from 5:30pm until 10pm. Try it out and you will not be disappointed.