Andanza

91
Falstaff Magazin International Nr. 1/2022 - SixPack

It was a choice between a Massaman curry and foie gras with Pedro Ximenz that led me to Andanza. I was on a mission, striding towards a favoured spot in London Bridge for some Thai fishcakes and more, when the pintxos menu in the window caught my attention in the window: pil pil cod en tempura; mini hamburguesa con Manchego; foie gras con reducción de Pedro Ximenez – hold my coat, I’m going in.  Memories of several Txakoli-fuelled visits to San Sebastián are some of my most memorable restaurant/bar visits of all time, bouncing in and out of pintxo bars in the Old Town, and at Andanza I’m soon taking a gleeful bite out of a cutesy little slider-esque bun, reminding me of the irreverent A Fuego Negro, where the kobe beef hamburguesa was one of several sparky little pintxos – it became a cult dish ordered by everyone. Here, it’s a belting start on a first visit which reassures me this place is the real deal.  Maybe it was luck that pulled me in here – I later find out that Andanza means ‘fortune’ or ‘fate’ in Spanish – but a couple of small plates later I’m charmed enough to start plotting another visit. It all starts to make sense when I find out that Head Chef is Paulina Irzyk, formerly senior sous chef at the excellent London Basque hang-outs Donostia and Lurra, two fantastic Spanish resaurants from the same owner. A tiny open kitchen adds a homely bustle to the room, and each time I’m impressed with the quality and playfulness of the dishes coming out. The clever knack of appearing effortless is achieved impeccably here.  So, that foie gras: it may well be the best value £7 morsel in London. A second visit sees my pal immediately ordering another couple for us, and he’s bang on with that move. Slab of wobbling seared foie, on warm bread, a drizzle of sweet/tangy Pedro Ximenez, and a walnut flourish on top – it’s the most decadent bar snack in town. Again, memories are pinging back to San Sebastián, as with this one they seem to be channelling bustling La Cuchara de San Telmo, where I remember watching goggle-eyed as a flurry of similar dishes streamed out of a tiny kitchen to a bar crammed with drinkers. Another eye-wideningly good couple of plates come during a third visit with the ebullient and irrepressible Hugh Wright, their PR honcho who has been helping them again since London has begun whirring into some form of normality after a tricky couple of restriction-besmirched years: a perfect dining wing-man campadre, it allows us to take on some of the larger ‘tapas’ dishes alongside those cheeky and compelling pintxos. Breaded tuna loin and goat’s cheese sounds a bit mental and has to be tried, and is a little revelation: delicately crumbed tuna, stuffed with cheese and topped with air-dried tuna loin from Andalucia known as Mojama, which does a fine impression of jamón and is cured in exactly the same way. It’s like an unholy schnitzel breaking all the rules and having a riot. An ‘order again each visit’ dish. The other larger dish sees fillets of the John Dory smooching with white bean purée, and sounds much sexier in Spanish: San Pedro, puré de fabes, salsa verde – ¡olé! we have another hit.  Attention to detail is all around, from the quality of the ‘picos’ bread sticks, several notches above the usual with more heft and artisanal grain flavour, the filtered clarity of the ice in their excellent gin and tonics, and the perfect char on the bread for the classic pan con tomate that carries a luscious smear of garlicky tomato pulp, soused with plenty of good olive oil – details matter, and they’re nailing them here.  Other playful dishes include the Pil Pil cod en Tempura 'fish and chips', a finely battered little tranche with a 'vinegar sauce' and a riotous pomegranate seed scattered Pulled Goat Crumpet.  Arroz negro hums with the stock from baby squid chipirones and is topped with a flourish of cockles. The smart wine list has character and focus, with sharp picks of Ribeira Sacra from Dominio do Bibei, and the Gallina de Piel 'Mimetic' from David Seijas, former long-time sommelier of the legendary three Michelin starred El Bulli — the food here sits comfortably among such company. Anything not to love about Andanza? Yes, the fact that it's not at the end of my road. Lucky London Bridge locals: fate must have brought them together. Reviewed by Zeren Wilson   

47 /50 Food
18 /20 Service
17 /20 Wine
9 /10 Style
Gourmet-News

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