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Tapas, Flamenca in Exeter

Review
Flamenca, Exeter

Belinda Dillon and guest were warmly invited to an evening of authentic, top-quality Spanish tapas, music and flamenco. Verdict: Viva Flamenca!

First opening as a midweek summer pop-up, Flamenca is now a permanent fixture on Exeter’s independent foodie scene – and what a welcome addition it is, offering super-tasty tapas in a warm, inviting atmosphere that instantly makes you feel like one of the family.

On the Friday we visited, there was live music and flamenco, adding another layer of flavour to the wonderfully authentic dining experience, which knocks it out of the park on the food front.

The menu offers an enticing selection of seafood, vegetarian and meat tapas, making it quite the challenge to settle on six plates between the two of us. We eventually plumped for the classic beef and pork meatballs, which were rich, succulent, and swathed in an insanely flavoursome tomato sauce; the chunky little nuggets of chorizo cooked in cider were the perfect combination of smoky and sweet. The marinated anchovies dressed in a zesty salsa verde were piquant and tangy; the Padrón peppers beautifully salty and flame-charred (we dodged the super-hot bullet!). An absolute corker was the slow-cooked beef cheeks in red wine sauce, an umami powerhouse of flavour – like the essence of cow on a plate – and mouth-wateringly delicious. We headed to the Specials for ‘Brava 2.0’, which takes the classic fried potato dish and turns it up to 11 by adding allioli, salsa verde, slow-cooked pulled beef and diced, pickled Spanish chillies. To drink, we enjoyed a Tempranillo – smooth, silky and bursting with berries – the ideal accompaniment to our flavour-packed feast.

It was purely with you in mind, dear reader, that we added in dessert – because who can resist a Basque cheesecake? Not me, and certainly not one this good, with its light but creamy texture and caramelised top. Heavenly. From the Specials board, we went for the Spanish affogato, which is vanilla ice cream and espresso with the added twist of a shot of Licor 43 (a vanilla-flavoured liqueur), and which nearly brought us to blows fighting over the spoon.

As we digested, and enjoyed the music, we noted the ease with which Pepe, Ray and the team effortlessly held the space. It’s a real skill to create an ambience this inviting, and they’ve got it in spades. Viva Flamenca!

Sample Menu

Tapas

  • Gambas al ajillo: prawns in garlic sauce
  • Berenjena frita: aubergine fritters with cane honey

Specials

  • Zamburiñas: queen scallops in Verdejo white wine sauce and chorizo powder
  • Canelones a la Catalana: Catalan-style pork and beef cannelloni with béchamel

Desserts

  • Churros con chocolate: dusted in cinnamon sugar with a chocolate dip
  • Tarta de Santiago: Spanish almond cake with vanilla ice cream

Prices

  • Tapas from £5.95
  • Specials from £7.50
  • Desserts from £6.50
We loved: the live music and flamenco, the tiny tankard of Licor 43 with the affogato, and the friendly, family vibe
Flamenca Exeter
Princesshay
Bedford St
Exeter
Devon EX1 1GJ

01392 420070
flamenca.co.uk

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