Two frustrations about eating out in London: it's hard to find proper rustic good tapas that is cheap like it should be; the dearth of decent places to eat in Bloomsbury, an otherwise lovely part of town.
The Norfolk Arms in Bloomsbury is the answer to both these prayers. I went there with some old friends a few weeks back and enjoyed a tasty array of classic/interesting tapas, good wine, friendly service and a bustling atmosphere.
We enjoyed some deliciously citrussy salt cod croquette balls, quality chorizo in red wine, and some paprika marinaded and fried crispy pork belly bits - they were something else, and every bit of their remnants was mopped up by the delicious bread.
We also feasted on tomatoey baked butter beans - great texture and flavour, and blue cheese with walnuts and honey on bread. I'm not usually a fan of blue, but it went perfectly with this combination of tastes.
Other highlights included a well-done staple of batatas bravas (with spicy tomato and mayonnaise), mariaded artichoke hearts, caperberries (very pungent), and courgette stuffed with cous cous, sultanas, sweet potatoes and topped with greek yoghurt. I like a bit of Levantine slipping into my tapas.
We were all drawn to the Norfolk Arms because we were lusting after Manzanilla, but ended up sinking those and three bottles of red between the five of us too. With all that food, the sherry, the wine, and tips, it came to £26 a head.
Sometimes the Norfolk Arms operates a two hour policy on tables, but they didn't need to turn us, so we had the table for a jolly four hours. All the way through, the waiting staff were friendly, attentive and low key.
So if you were ever looking for some nice, authentically spiced and priced tapas, or found yourself hungry in Bloomsbury, the Norfolk Arms could be a great choice for you.