Tucked down a dimly lit side street just a few paces from Tottenham Court Road, Drakes Tabanco is just about as close as you’re likely to get to a traditional Jerez tabanco in the middle of London’s sprawling cityscape. Rough whitewashed walls, heavy wooden furniture and great hanging legs of jamon add an air of authenticity to the surroundings, although admittedly a little spruced up for the spoilt-for-choice tastes of a London audience. Riding on the back of the success of sister Spanish establishments Barrica and Copita, Drakes has chosen sherry as its calling card – recreating the sherry taverns of Jerez where locals are served straight from the barrel. But aside from the aesthetics, what really sets Drakes apart from the slew of tapas joints cropping up across the city is the quality of sherry on offer here. From rare Fino (Fino ‘en Rama’ Especial) to old Oloroso and very old syrupy sweet Pedro Ximenez (PX), expect a small but carefully selected range of top-notch barrels.
An English/Spanish menu sees all the usual tapas favourites replaced with an interesting and imaginative array of dishes. A series of small plates such as lamb prosciutto, cured Iberico pork tongue and smoked scallops with avocado purée, precede hearty flavoursome mains like braised pig cheeks with oloroso and potato purée and rolled lamb breast served on a bed of puy lentils. And for afters? Make sure to leave at least a little room for the vanilla ice cream and Malaga raisins, served on the stalk and drowned, of course, in a generous serving of sugary PX.