Sitting pretty amongst the rabble of scruffy pound stores and takeaway joints lining Camberwells main artery, is locals favourite Angels & Gypsies. A mixed clientele of arty young professionals are drawn to this cool, contemporary space - all exposed brickwork and colourful stained glass artworks - with only the legs of Iberico ham hanging from the ceiling betraying the nationality of the cuisine.
The kitchen is headed up by one of the two brothers, with a menu thats reflective of his Spanish roots and extensive travels, and heavily reliant on locally sourced seasonal produce. Service is swift and it needs to be, too, as even on a Tuesday evening, when ELLEuk visited, the place was full to bursting.
On to the food. A prelude of juicy house marinated olives kicks off the proceedings, followed by classic calamari, given a new twist with a velvety orange alioli, and creamy langoustine croquetas offset with fresh tomato salsa. Seafood-wise, Angels & Gypsies also offers plenty of choice, such as enticing razor clams cooked a la plancha and served with chorizo, tarragon and celery or Orkney hand-dived scallops adorned with just a hint of thyme butter.
Meat-lovers are also very well catered for, with the organic Longhorn beef and the divine D Cut Rump (55 days aged served with black beans, fried quails egg and horseradish), especially being of particular note. Not far behind was classic comfort dish albondigas meatballs served Sephardic style with black apricots, chickpeas and shaved Manchego cheese. Fragrant and utterly moreish, its perfect with classic patatas pobres sliced potatoes with sweet pepper, garlic and rosemary or mopped up with the home-made sourdough and rye breads.
Of course, no visit to a tapas restaurant would be complete without sampling the cured meat cuts and the sizable platter of Iberico jamon, chorizo, salchichon and lomo (washed down with regular slugs of wine) is a great choice. To accompany it, we went for a fruity and flavoursome Montecristo Blanco, from the Navarra region of Spain, but the (very affordable) house white is also a great option.
With so many flavours going on, its a good idea to order a salad on the side, and we found the perfectly balanced roasted beetroot, rocket and Ragstone goat's cheese salad with maple dressing a great foil to the heavier plates on offer. To finish up with, there's an excellent (and again, pretty reasonably priced) cheese board, with its siren call of Neal's Yard varieties served with a natty green apple and quince jam, leaving not much room for pudding. Still, if you do happen to make it this far, the classic Ravani Farina and orange syrup cake with bergamot and yoghurt are well worth a try. Or you could just follow ELLEuks lead and ditch the pud entirely, punting for a punchy desert wine instead like the Delgado Zuleta Cream. Heavenly.
The ELLEuk Score
Style of food: Spanish/tapas
Good for: quick bite after work; first date; group dinner
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Prices & Other Details at Angels & Gypsies
Address: 33 Camberwell Church Street, London, SE5 8TR
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 12-3pm, 6pm-10.30pm; Saturday: 12pm-3.30pm, 6pm-11pm; Sunday: 12pm-3pm, 6pm-10.30pm.
Average price per person for a two-course meal (without wine): £23 (three generously sized plates)
Price of bottle of house wine: £16, Molino Loco Macabeo (white); £16.50, Hacienda Lopez de Haro, Tempranillo (red)
Price of glass of house wine: As above, £4 or £4.25 respectively
Private dining? You can book the Latin inspired Havana Lounge at the adjoining Church Street Hotel. 30 person capacity, no hire fee, just a £10 per head reservation fee per head which is redeemable against food and drink.
Garden/al fresco area? No
Bar? Non-diners can pull up a chair at the restaurants horseshoe bar for a drink
Best tables? Choose one of the many window seats, away from the chill of the front door
Who goes? Arty Camberwell locals more young professional than scruffy student
Nearest tube/metro station? Oval Underground station is a five-minute bus ride