Hispania in Lombard Street looks like an unassuming typical banker location for lunch when you walk by, however you should not judge a book by its cover. When you walk in you immediately feel the vast size of this place. Hispania is the largest Spanish restaurant in London. This place has been rumored for months to be one of the very best restaurants in London in the Spanish cuisine. As we walked in we felt as though we had really stepped out of the busy city to a parador in Spain.
Almost everything in this vast place is authentic from the magnificent Spanish floor, to the wooden private dining table that was owned originally by a notorious Spanish banker. The ground floor holds the bar, dining tables, a deli area where people can pick up a quick lunch or breakfast to take away and a cheese cellar which hosts a magnificent array of local cheeses (the name escapes me but originates from the owners local district. There will also be a balsamic vinegar and bread tasting area in the corner which will be opening in coming weeks.
We were then lead up the grand stair case which is the centre point to the whole restaurant. The mahogany wood and dark iron lamps and window frame contrast against the ivory titled floor and large windows. As we made it to the top we saw a large reception area with a dining area to one side and the infamous table for private dining that could be closed off. There is also a chefs table (it was not open when we visited) that was situated on a higher floor overlooking the kitchen.
We were seated in the dining area on the first floor and left it to the waitress to order. All of the staff are from Spain and many are friends with the owner. The head chef worked with some of the very best Spanish chefs prior to coming here too. This place just exudes traditional luxury.
The waitress had a thick Spanish accent which added to the authenticity of the place rather than consuming the situation. She recommended the tomato brochette, cheese croquettes, ham croquettes, squid ink rice, Spanish Serrano ham (from the district the owner came from) and garlic king prawns. That sounded delicious for us and plenty as it was only lunch time!
The bread with the tomato chunks came out first; the first bite astounded the taste buds as we expected tomatoes on toasted ciabatta (as it looked unassuming) yet we picked up basil, chili, garlic, sweet and bitter tomato. This also was served with cheesy bread using the local cheese I spoke about earlier. Next came the ham which we laid across the spare bread and gobbled down quickly. The ham was thicker than normal Parma or Serrano ham (as it is cut with a dominating metal slicer from the leg on the ground floor for customers to see) and tastes much richer, melting in the mouth. Then came the croquettes which were filled with local cheese or ham. I have to say I preferred the cheese which was gooey, stringy and yet had a tart taste. I felt the ham croquettes lacked taste or flavour - but that may have been because I had just has the most delectable Serrano ham. Finally out came the squid ink rice – ebony black with speckles of garlic flecked through it served with the garlic prawns. My only one criticism was that I did feel a garlic overload that I didn’t mind necessarily there but overpowered my mouth for the next 24hours at least!
We were checked a couple of times by the waitress, maybe I would say a little too zealously but it was late lunch so only a few of us to care for on the first floor which is only used when down stairs is booked or for special occasions.
We wiped our mouths and hugged our bellies, 100% satisfied with the authenticity of the food, decor and service. As a result we give this place:
Food Service Atmosphere