Brindisa in Borough Market is one of my favourite restaurants in the whole city - nay, the world - when I used to live in London Bridge I used to go so often we were on first name terms with the staff, had "the usual" favourites and always got a good table, fast. I love that place, so when I heard about a special lunch menu at the sister branch, Tramontana in Shoreditch, I knew I had to try it out.
The Calçotada is an annual Spanish festival celebrating calcots, which are essentially large spring onions, from Catalunya in northeastern Spain. The set menu is served Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes in February and March, when calcots are at their best.
The calçots are cooked on a fire until charred, steamed in newspaper then served in bunches for the table to share. You peel off the blackened skin with your fingers and dip them in a tasty romasco sauce. It's simple, delicious and very messy: we sat down to a chilled glass of cava and put our bibs on to get stuck in.
After having about a dozen each, we moved onto the meat platter piled high with butifarra sausage, presa iberica ham, tender lamb chump and grilled chorizo. For side dishes, we were served grilled artichokes, roasted peppers, baked potato and toast with a good, strong aioli. For dessert we had the Spanish version of crème brûlée, crema catalana, and finished with double espressos.
The food at Tramontana is simple, tasty and filling, so good value for money: the menu includes an aperitif, the calcots, meat plates, sides and a dessert for £35. The calcotada is a fun, unusual lunch and I loved that it's both traditional and seasonal. Be sure to book in next year and try out their delicious tapas year round too.
Brindisa Tramontana, 152 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3AT