It’s very easy to get carried away with multi-million pound restaurant investments halfway up a giant pane of glass, but all you need to enjoy a meal is good food. At Bar Esteban in Crouch End, they know this, and they couldn’t be more excited about sharing that food with you. The tapas way is one of my favourites – why limit yourself to one dish when there are so many great ones on offer? Our hostess for the evening was incredibly passionate about the menu on display at Bar Esteban, and happily recommended which of the daily specials we should be sampling, as well as her favourites from the diverse menu.
Pan con tomate
The first of the many dishes we ordered to arrive was the pan con tomate – lovely, juicy tomatoes smothered over bread. It was a refreshing start to the meal, with tasty, fresh bread balancing out the strong taste from the tomatoes.
Another early delight were the jamon croquetas. Presented very simply on a small brown plate, these croquettes packed a hefty taste, with warm tender meat inside. These small bundles of breadcrumb were a real treat.
Ordering patatas bravas during tapas in the UK is almost cliché, but I can never resist. The dish at Bar Esteban reminded me why – they were crisp bundles of potato with a delicious sauce accompaniment. The most moreish dish imaginable.
Pisto with aubergine, courgette and peppers
From the vegetable section, we tried the pisto, with aubergine, courgette and peppers. The balance of vegetables with sauce worked really well, with each bringing a slightly different flavour to the palate, with excellent seasoning.
Albondigas con salsa espaniola
On a slightly meatier note, we also tasted the albondigas con salsa espaniola – rich, chunky meatballs served with a little sauce. The meatballs were tender, and the taste was evenly packed throughout the ball.
Ham & artichoke special
The first of our specials was an intricate piece – hollowed out artichokes stuffed with ham served with a little seasoning. The flavour matched the construction of the plate in that it was very complex and also exciting. The meat went well against the artichoke, and the touch of sauce to the dish was there to add more flavour to the two.
Our second special was even more complicated – a seafood special featuring squid and king prawns amongst its many delights. Each aspect of this dish was excellent; the prawns were huge and fleshy, and the squid was sharp and full of texture,especially with a little lemon added. The fish was soft and aromatic too. The platter was an incredible construction.
Tarte de Santiago
With time for a sherry, we turned our attention to the desserts. The tarte de Santiago was an almond cake served with a scoop of ice cream. The cake was soft and sweet, and retained it’s moisture for what made a great dish.
Chocolate tarte and vanilla ice cream
We also opted for the chocolate tarte and vanilla ice cream, served with a few raspberries. The chocolate was warm and sweet, balancing well against the cool, smooth ice cream. A nice touch of icing sugar finished the presentation on a lovely glass plate. As we left Bar Esteban, both the restaurant and bar were packed. It was great to see. Local places with passionate staff are so exciting to be around, and with food at this quality, I’m thrilled to see Bar Esteban bringing in so many people.