From the moment you step inside, La Cueva is rather unforgettable. “Not just a restaurant,” instead the team are keen to point out they offer a “cultural immersion” through beautiful and fresh Iberian flavours brought to Old Rectory Gardens. A cosy tapas bar, it may look like a modern city building from the outside, but once through the door it quickly turns into a very different story. With an interior design inspired by Himalayan rock salt caves, it feels like stepping over the threshold into a whole new world.
An intimate, fantastical, and atmospheric place packed with authentic Spanish details to help set the scene, better yet, the food also leaves a lasting impression. The menu itself is a good reflection of traditional tapas spots back on the southern continent, and is handily divided into small plates of meats, fish and vegetables. The latter includes classics like patatas bravas with or without mozzarella cheese, tortilla Epanola (Spanish omelette), a tantalising aubergine bake, and pisto machego. AKA the Spanish staple of sautéed courgette, ball peppers, aubergine and tomatoes topped with manchego. Pescatarians and lovers of seafood, meanwhile, get creamy prawns, lubina alla plancha (grilled sea bass), and fish croquettes, among other choices.
Moving on to the meats, and carnivores will relish in the ham croquettes, halloumi & chorizo, or the zesty lomo de buey — a sirloin steak served with chimichurri sauce. In addition to small plates, La Cueva also does a great job with its paellas. Choose from the paella de mariscos (mixed seafood, vegetables, saffron), de pollo (chicken, chorizo, vegetables), de cordero (lamb), and vegetarina (as it sounds: meat and fish free). Side orders and desserts are well worth a look, too, and you’ll find a great wine list showcasing the best of Spain and further afield, by the glass and bottle.