To the Spanish, mealtimes are family times; I love this ethos.
My husband and I have brought our two-year-old to The Royal Pub in Barugh Green, for her first ever tapas experience.
Now a 200-year-old Barnsley pub might seem like an odd choice for a Spanish meal, but looks can be deceiving. Owner Nigel West bought the old coaching inn three years ago, re-launching it as a Spanish restaurant, and the results have been extraordinary. On a busy night, this place can serve up to 600 tapas dishes and, on this bustling Friday night, I’m glad we booked as the place is already filling up by 6.30pm.
“I love everything about Spain - the food, the people, the lifestyle,” explains Nigel.
“The menu is devised from dishes I’ve either discovered on my travels, or that my chefs have found while trawling cookbooks and websites.
“Everything is authentic and much of our food - meats, cheese, black puddings - is imported from Spain as it’s simply the best. Everything else comes from a fantastic local supplier, Cannon Hall Farm.
“When I refurbished the place, there was definitely pressure to change the name to something Spanish, but I don’t believe in changing pub names, particularly not one that’s been there since 1850; this is a landmark.”
Once we find and settle in at our table - a busy bar girl simply waves a hand in the (wrong) direction when we enquire where we are to sit - we decide to order a mixture of dishes in an effort to introduce our little girl - and ourselves - to a wide range of the tastes and flavours on offer. And we’re not disappointed. The food starts arriving quite quickly and we start digging in, breaking things into halves and loading little plates up with all kinds of delicious-looking morsels, as is the Spanish way.
I’m pleased we chose two portions of the patatas bravas as they’re a big hit, with a delicious tomato cream sauce that somehow still leaves the potato crispy. The paella is also hoovered up fast, with plenty of sticky rice and moist chicken. The chicken skewers are tasty and the cheese croquettes are mouth-watering. I’m less fussed about the spicy meatballs but my favourite is the Spanish red sausage in puff pastry - basically an exotic sausage roll! We also opt for a basket of bread with olive butter and, even though the portions are generous, there’s barely a scrap left on the table when we’re done. This syle of picking from different plates and eating with your fingers is perfect family feeding. Fantastico!
* We paid £53.50 for three people including desserts and drinks.
Star rating out of five:
Three more to choose from.
The Beer Engine, Cemetery Road, Sheffield (Also a traditional pub serving Tapas)
Cubana Tapas Bar, Leopold Square, Sheffield
El Torro, Broomhill, Sheffield