From humble beginnings watching his Mother cook in Spain, Omar Allibhoy has brought a taste of his home country to the UK with the all new Tapas Revolution Newcastle.
The latest addition to the Greys Quarter in Intu Eldon Square, we visited prior to the opening, being put through our paces in the kitchen by the Chef himself.
When an invite lands in your inbox asking you along to cook with a fresh new culinary talent to the region, you say yes. We were to be learning how to cook the stand out dishes from the menu before digging in and tasting our hard work.
Baby faced Omar first brought his 1 man Tapas revolution to England in 2008 with his first Tapas Revolution restaurant opening in 2010. Going from strength to strength Tapas Revolution Newcastle is the latest opening. The 7 restaurants sit alongside Omar’s books and TV appearances. He has achieved so much for someone in his early 30s!
Heading in to the large and airy restaurant, we were met by Omar and talked through the menu for the evening. Jamón Ibérico de bellota Montenevado (£9.50), Sepia a la plancha (£6.50), Chorizo a la parilla (£5.95), Gambas al ajillo (£7.95), Pan con tomate (£2.95) and Paella de pollo (£24). Scary part was – we were cooking it all!
While we waited for everyone to arrive, we were spoiled with slices of wafer thin Iberico ham carved by Omar. It was interesting to watch him and the sheer look of concentration as he masterfully tended to the ham. Hand carved fresh for each order, this is definitely a dish to try. Washing down the food was a great selection of Spanish inspired drinks and cocktails, even the non-alcoholic drinks were delicious!
Squeezed in to the small but perfectly formed kitchen at Tapas Revolution Newcastle, Omar chatted passionately about his love of food and his Mothers influence as well as the whole ethos of Tapas itself. Everyone loves a ‘picky tea’ and the Spanish do this so well.
I was impressed that Omar confidently discussed taking salad dishes off the menu at present due to the quality of the vegetables available at the minute due to the weather abroad. Showing a commitment to quality, he’d rather not serve a dish than serve something poor in quality. How many other restaurants are following suit?
On to the cooking!
Cuttlefish isn’t something you see on the menu every day but the Sepia a la plancha (£6.50) is very similar to squid. With a la plancha meaning cooking on a hot plate, the fresh fish is cooked quickly with garlic, oil and parsley. The quick flash cooking keeps the cuttlefish from becoming rubbery. To get the best from the fish at home, you should cook it super quick or low and slow to keep it tender.
Next up was the Husbands favourite. The Chorizo a la parilla (£5.95) was a winner. chunks of juicy, fatty chorizo were sauteed and reduced in Spanish cider to make a meaty, salty sticky sauce. Cooking brought out the flavours from the fat as it rendered down.
Moving to the vegetarian side of the menu, Pan con tomate (£2.95) was so simple to prepare but the results made it look more involved! We rubbed fresh garlic over the underside of toasted bread before topping with crush tomatoes and olive oil. Guided by Omar, rubbing garlic on the underside gave a kick in your mouth before the sweetness of the tomatoes. As the flavours were kept apart by the bread, you got both flavours without a competition for attention. Something so simple that I would never have thought of. We’ve tried this at home since our masterclass, a quick store cupboard lunch!
The star for me was the Gambas al ajillo (£7.95). We cooked large juicy prawns in oil with lots of garlic and chilli. As we were in charge of our dishes, we added an extra helping of chilli. Yum. Cooked in an earthenware dish, the prawns swam in the garlic oil that just cried out to be mopped up with crusty bread. Again, quite a simple dish but when done well what more do you need?
To finish, the large Paella de Pollo (£24) had been prepared and brought out to us. Labelled as a dish for 2 to share, 5 of us tucked in to this large pan and there was still heaps left. I’m not a fan of paella at all but Paul certainly devoured his fair share.
All the portions at Tapas Revolution Newcastle are quite generous so they can definitely be split between two or in the case of those delicious garlic prawns, a portion all to yourself.
We were impressed by our visit to Tapas Revolution Newcastle and I can’t wait to go back. I have my eye on their brunch dishes next. If you want to check out whats on offer, the full menu can be found online HERE.