When you hear ‘tapas’ your mind automatically conjures up Spanish small plates, with people huddled around a table sharing food and having a good time. At Eccleston Square Hotel’s Tapas 37, Head Chef Matt Laville – formerly seen at Maze by Gordon Ramsey and Pollen Street Social – was asked to put a French twist on the idea by hotel managers Olivia and James Byrne.
I speak with Matt when I visit Tapas 37 and he admits his knowledge of French food was relatively limited, but he brainstormed with James and Olivia to come up with a menu of truly creative dishes. He offers to whip up his suggestions for my partner and me, which we happily agree to try. Believe me, it doesn’t disappoint.
The restaurant sits across the hall from the main lobby of the property and although it’s small it provides a stylish, intimate atmosphere. Grey and black is the theme, with plush velvety seating and crisp white table linens. The music is reminiscent of a Parisian bistro, putting me in a French state of mind.
Our waitress suggests a bottle of J Moreau & Fils Grenache-Colombard 2014 from Chablis based on our preference for white wine as we start with melt-in-your mouth smoked ham & cheese and chilli cheese croquettes served with a tangy dipping sauce.
From there it’s a parade of out-of-this-world food including one of Matt’s favourite creations, a crispy courgette flower stuffed with goat’s cheese and drizzled with truffle honey (pictured above); I can see why it’s his most popular dish. We also sample tuna ceviche ‘Niçoise’, breaded poached egg with charred asparagus and butter ice cream, as well as gambas (or langoustines) with chilli and garlic. My top nibble is the surprising sticky pork beignets – savoury on the inside with a sweet, cinnamon dough exterior. For dessert, we have a light and tasty tarte tatin topped with vanilla ice cream.
After so much food you’d think we’d be stuffed to the gills, but we leave contentedly full and all we can talk about on the way home is the variety of flavours we’ve experienced in one sitting.
This is definitely one to add to your list of must-try restaurants.
Eccleston Square Hotel, 37 Eccleston Square, London SW1V 1PB; 020 3489 1000; ecclestonsquarehotel.com