Mar I Terra opened in 2000 in the depths of Southwark. I can only imagine what it must have been like around there then, certainly not the buzzy, busy network of offices, bars and flash new buildings it is now. It’s hidden in a small street very close to Southwark Station, I stumbled on it one day last year when taking a short-cut to the station and thought: I must try that restaurant.
Since then I’ve been there three times and each time has been a lovely experience. They offer simple, authentic tapas with a lot of their products being shipped direct from Spain. And my discovery on my latest visit there is that there’s a typically Londonesque courtyard garden at the back…perfect for dinner in the middle of our lovely heatwave.
The fresh anchovies (boquerones) from Cantabria are served in olive oil and wine vinegar. A typically Spanish dish that never fails to delight me. The texture of the anchovies and zesty flavours of the aromatic olive oil and vinegar just can’t be beaten. And they look beautiful, too. Regular readers of this blog will know that I use them a lot in salads when in Spain.
Baby broad beans are one of my favourite Spanish delicacies. Here they are simply sauteed with the amazing Pata Negra ham, mint, fresh tomatoes and sofrita. A dish that’s both sweet and tangy.
Croquettes are a must-eat in any tapas array, I think. These perfect chicken ones came with a spicy tomato dipping sauce.
Calamares a la Romana is another favourite and didn’t disappoint. The calamari was tender and crispy and came with alioli and sweet chilli dips.
They do amazing things with beans in Spain. This flavour-packed dish was a mix of white Pote beans, chorizo, morcilla and panceta adobada, scented with pimenton. Rich and satisfying.
And finally, one of my absolute favourites, a dish that is so simple you can’t actually believe how delicious it is. Cubes of chicken breast fried in olive oil and garlic. Piping hot, tender morsels packed with an explosion of garlic. How I love this dish.
So there’s a taster of Mar I Terra. I need to add that it’s also great value for money and the service is fantastically friendly and relaxed while also being efficient.
I’ve noticed I’ve used the word “favourite” a lot…oh well, I guess it must be one of my favourite restaurants… its certainly one where you know repeat visits are on the card. Oh, and here’s the little courtyard.
Mar I Terra is at 14 Gambia Street, Waterloo