The Tapas of London

A visit to the Tower of London is on every first timer's list of London ‘must sees’, and for good reason. A World Heritage site, it is packed full of history, has imprisoned monarchs and noblemen, housed lions and elephants and now guards the Crown Jewels. But it's the heart of Tourist London. As you emerge, the main thing on your mind will be: where can I find a good meal away from the crowds?

Two minutes' walk away, on the other side of Tower Bridge, St Katharine’s Dock is the home of Bravas, a tapas bar tucked away on the waterfront in a quiet haven that offers and wonderful views of all kinds of boats, often including the gilded beauty, 'Gloriana'. If the weather is good, grab yourself an outside seat and admire the fancy yachts while deciding which one you will buy!

My party and I opted for a simple sharing meal of several tapas and a couple of glasses of Spanish white, and the quality of the food and wine were both excellent. The padron peppers – always a favourite of mine – had just enough crunch, with a generous but not overwhelming sprinkle of salt; the Catalan spinach croquettes were smooth and tasty, packed full of spinach and thus a vaguely healthy option. The pan con tomato was less appealing on arrival – looking as it did like tomato paste on bread instead of the chopped tomatoes we were expecting – but in fact the flavour was so wonderful, fresh and full of tomato, with a light blend of olive oil, that we were tempted to order more. We followed this with a plate of 'chipirones' or baby squid, lightly fried in a delicate batter and with not too many legs, and the rather wonderful Marcella de Burgos sliders – a kind of black pudding mini burger which we tried in the spirit of adventure and weren't disappointed; even the presentation was enticing. By this time we were full, but the greedy guts among you could easily carry on from there, and why wouldn't you? The menu has lots more to choose from including  a good array of fish dishes, hams and cheeses.

The weather was perfect for our visit, and we spent a good hour and a half enjoying the ambience and being made very welcome by the staff. The wine slipped down and the good strong coffees they served at the end set us up for our journey home. The whole lot cost us £49 including service, but £10 of that was the wine so a non-alcoholic lunch would be quite a bit kinder on the pocket.

Check out the Bravas website for more information and how to find them. And for more on Sue Hillman and her excellent and entertaining tailor-made tours of London, click here.