Sache, Scotland and the ocean – that’s the challenge commentary proclaimed through a neon signal on Maresco’s again wall, writ massive in electrical blue. However the clue is already within the identify: “Mar” is Spanish for “sea”, whilst “esco” respresents Escocia, the Spanish identify for Scotland.
We duck into this twist at the tapas bar – which objectives to marry tapas ways with awesome Scottish produce – on a cold November evening. Perching on top stools with an aperitivo coupe of cava, we eye the cabinets of clean, ice-packed seafood on the some distance finish of the counter, spying multiple langoustine nonetheless wiggling a pincer.
The landlord, former report govt Stephen Lironi, has shape for London tapas bars. He and his spouse opened Bar Esteban in London’s Crouch Finish neighbourhood in 2013, following it up with Escocesa in Stoke Newington in 2015. The gang’s latest venue, on Soho’s well-trodden Berwick Side road, is its maximum central venue but.
There’s an intentional straight-from-the-fishmonger’s-crate surroundings right here, from the neon signage to the gleaming chrome steel of the huge open kitchen, by means of the lengthy counters punters take a seat at to devour their small plates.
There are tables downstairs, however team of workers appear to pack within the top stools on the two floor ground counters first, leaving maximum guests elbow to elbow.
This makes Maresco really feel like a spot for a fast pitstop – between Soho buying groceries or earlier than the theatre, possibly – relatively than a settle-in-for-the-night roughly joint, and there’s completely a spot for that roughly eating in central London. The global clientele is of the same opinion: at the evening we discuss with, there may be Italian chatter to our left and Swedish visitors in the back of us. Chef Pablo Rodriguez and his group are in a position and ready in the back of the counter, actively grilling, sauteeing and prepping oysters and clams centimetres in entrance of you.
The menu is split into classes: specials (which generally tend to hide seafood of the day comparable to mussels, langoustines and razor clams); snacks; seafood mains; veggie mains; and meaty mains.
We begin with starter boquerones (marinated anchovies), which might be pitch-perfect in a vinegary-sweet garlic and parsley dressing, and delectable with a tumbler of cava. Black rice with halibut is an identical hit, the rice dyed a shiny jet black with squid ink, wealthy with inventory and umami flavour and crowned with a fillet of subtle white fish. It arrives in a pleasingly taster-sized, shareable portion – a shallow, mini oven dish the appropriate dimension for 2 relatively than the standard large paella pan.
A fried courgette flower (already a favorite at multiple London tapas joint) is fabulously accomplished, its thick trunk and blossom covered in only a whisper of sunshine, crunchy batter, the petals full of tangy goat’s cheese and drizzled with a subtly floral honey.
However no longer all dishes are winners. Actually, it’s the fundamental tapas crowd-pleasers that fall flat right here: deep-fried child squid are too salty and one-note, and not using a zesty dip or contrasting sauce to pep them up.
Our shared primary, a venison fillet with Jerusalem artichoke puree and mustard proves tasty, however shifts the menu extra against high-quality eating, which feels rather at odds with the at ease eating room and open kitchen. We get the sensation we haven’t ordered the principle highlights of the home, however similarly go away nonetheless undecided what the ones have been.
Team of workers level us against txistorra, an odd taste of mackerel and monkfish sausage originating from Spain’s Basque area, as an example – as a novelty dish we’ve by no means had, it’s lovable and dainty, however the flavour and texture doesn’t set our global alight. In a similar fashion, a crema Catalana ice cream dessert is inoffensively vanilla-laced on a mattress of crunchy biscuit crumb, however no longer daring sufficient to instructed a go back discuss with (the big name of pudding time finally ends up being a memorably wealthy, raisiny XO sherry).
This slight sense of dish roulette detracts from the total enjoy – have been you to make a choice an underwhelming £16 or £22 dish, you’re not likely with the intention to redeem it with a 2d or 3rd dish with out racking up reasonably a invoice.
The menu additionally covers such a large amount of floor, from easy (marinated olives, pan con tomate) to intricate or formidable (an artily built calamari sandwich; Iberico red meat with shitake mushroms) that it’s onerous to nail down a logical collection of dishes, or tempo the meal specifically properly.
The award for “perfect tapas bar in Soho” is a crowded box. Maresco itself sits throughout from Ember Backyard, one of the vital Salt Backyard crew’s infinitely comfortable branches, and across the nook from Copita, reliably full of easy Spanish bites and comfortable conviviality.
At Maresco, Crouch Enders would possibly to find themselves eager for the comfortable corners, lengthy nightcaps and full of life buzz of the crowd’s authentic, Bar Esteban. However tapas fans who reside for seafood will benefit from the theatricality of sitting through Maresco’s open kitchen, seeing oysters shucked and chatting to team of workers about what’s contemporary these days.
The younger group is indubitably infused with pleasure in regards to the new challenge; pointing us to favourites and letting us take a look at a couple of sloshes of wine earlier than we make a choice one.
If the group can focal point its efforts and menu on top-quality end result de mer – hanging the herbal flavours and raw-bar textures on the centre of items, and warding off disappointing dish detours – it has the possible to turn out to be an actual magnet for seafood lovers.
Maresco | 45 Berwick St, London W1F 8SF | 020 7439 8483 | maresco.co.uk