Duende is a fairly new cocktail and tapas bar in Covent Garden, having opened in March 2016, serving up modern Spanish food inspired by Victor Garvey’s experience of cooking in restaurants around the world.
It is a really small restaurant, with 22 seats and has a sleek, dark interior. The seating is a combination of tables and bar seats. I would recommend booking in advance as it is so busy the wait for a table as a walk in would be too long.
We were sat on the bar seats, right next to the entrance so was slightly uncomfortable and also disruptive, as the door kept opening and closing. These are minor things though and the service was brilliant.
Sitting so close to the entrance meant I had the advantage of overhearing the staff offering glasses of free Cava to diners who had arrived and whose table was not yet available, which I thought was really good customer service.
They have an impressive selection of Gins to choose from for a Gin & Tonic, and an interesting range of cocktails. I like my cocktails rum based so I went for a Travesura, which is a mix of spiced rum, bergamot, fresh sage and muscavado. Amit went for a Gin & Tonic and his choice of Gin was Sipsmith. I really enjoyed my cocktail and having watched the barman make it, I know it was made with great skill and knowledge.
It is a tapas restaurant so we ordered a few dishes to share. Disappointingly some dishes had run out and it was only 8pm but the food we ordered more than made up for this. I would like to go back and try some of the dishes we had originally wanted to order though.
First to arrive were Aubergine & Goat’s Cheese Croquetas with Crystallised Acacia Honey and Rosemary. They were hot in terms of temperature, tasted freshly cooked and were utterly delicious.
I love padron peppers so these were definitely going to be ordered when spotted on the menu and were really tasty. They were flavoured with sprinklings of charcoal salt & served with an aji amarillo & garlic dip which was fiery.
My favourite of all the tapas was the crispy Tiger Prawns which were just amazing. Crispy exterior, soft and full flavoured on the inside with a subtle hint of horseradish with every bite.
Amit’s favourite dish was the Poached Duck Egg on a layer of truffle and smoked potato and served with grilled bread. The smokiness was divine and upon chatting with the staff, learned that they smoked the potatoes in the morning. I can just imagine the aromas!
Our final choice for tapas was Lamb Chops with a Rosemary & Tarragon Aioli. They looked like they didn’t have flavour but boy did they! They were deceivingly seasoned and marinated really well. A nice dish to end the mains with.
Next was dessert and for some reason there were different choices to the menu on the website and they had run out of some. Luckily, the dish we wanted was available. This was the Turron de Gijona Ice Cream Sandwiches and they absolutely stole the show.
They were perfect in terms of texture, taste, toppings and portions. We got one each so thankfully didn’t have to share!
I thought the prices at Duende were reasonable, especially considering the location and the food was faultless in execution and taste. I liked the play of flavours, modern twists yet authentic taste and thoroughly enjoyed my meal.
I was a bit disappointed that all the items on the menu were not available and also not 100% comfortable sitting at the bar, but I do understand it is a small restaurant and besides those points, really felt that the food was brilliant, the service was excellent and the prices were just right.
For more information go to: http://www.duendelondon.com