It’s been open nearly a decade, but did you know Camino started the vogue for huge, upmarket restaurants in the area?
It also boasts a useful all-year-round outside space. In fact, Varnisher’s Yard evokes a hip corner of Barcelona, with its bright red-painted barrels, olive trees, vast canopy and low clubby seating – and the buzz of international voices, whatever the day or season. It’s probably the most sheltered European-style square in the capital, too.On our invited visit it’s another dismally grey June lunchtime. The idea was, of course, to sit outside on the west-facing dining terrace, but once again the weather has seen to that, and we’re ensconced inside in a cosy booth-for-two, perhaps better suited to couples than colleagues. At least an open kitchen and glass roof ensure the temperature inside is swelteringly Mediterranean.
But the cooking is worth breaking into a sweat for: this is tapas to transport you to the best discovery in Spain. Pan con tomate has just a lick of paprika, its smokiness adding depth to the fresh, garlicky tomatoes. A huge prawn is the least interesting thing alongside a pile of gorgeously saffron cuttlefish rice. Octopus again demonstrates the head chef’s propensity towards paprika, but its salty chargrilled flavour is winningly moreish. Sautéed violet artichokes are an imaginative creation of sweet, creamy almond sauce and ribbons of spring onion. Our only point? It could have used some bread to mop it up with.
And with that it’s back out into the steely skies. But whatever the weather, either before or after you eat, it’s worth lingering outside with a large glass of Verdejo; a true holiday moment.