Tapas is one of those culinary phenomenons that has really taken off in the UK in recent years. You’ll find ‘small plates’ in country pubs these days – although the actual relation to their Spanish cousin might be quite distant.
With that said, it is not so hard to find a decent tapas bar near you, probably, wherever you are.
But a top notch tapas diner in deepest Devon? Tavistock, no less.
Well, The Annex, Tavistock promises just that – so we went to check it out.
Situated a short walk up the hill from Bedford Square, the Annex sits just below the viaduct on the hill to offer some great views across the town.
And with a nice terraced space, decorated with foliage, on a good day you could almost be in Seville or Ronda. OK, that might be a bit of a stretch. But the views are lovely and the outside space would be great – although when we arrived the weather wasn’t quite suited to al fresco dining, unfortunately.
Having said that, the interior is modern and stylish, with a wall of wine bottles dominating the room. And it’s definitely a place to indulge in a few tipples, which we’ll come to in a bit. Although it’s not the biggest room, with tables quite close together, this does create a buzzing atmosphere once the place fills up.
We love a bit of tapas here at the Devon Herald, and we’ve tried our fair share in our time. From the Iberian peninsula to the top tier eateries of London and European cities, as well as places around the UK. So, we’ve had excellent tapas before.
One thing to bear in mind with tapas is that it doesn’t have to be top quality. Even in Spain itself it’s often pre-prepared and pretty underwhelming. But when you get albondigas (meatballs) and patatas bravas right, it’s a joy to behold.
So how did The Annex in Tavistock fare?
No joke, but the patatas bravas were probably in my top 3 best that I’ve had. Anywhere. The sauce was smoky and spicy, which often can’t be said for tapas in Spain. And the potatoes were actually perfectly fried with a crispy crunch – again, not always a given even in Spain.
Our table also chose meatballs, fishcakes, pea and mint fritters, the olive selection and the caprese salad (admittedly an Italian dish). Literally everything oozed quality and attention to detail, and was eagerly polished off by our team.
A good example of how the simple excellence came through was in the caprese salad. Quality tomatoes and mozarella are a classic pairing, and this might have been one of the best dishes on the table. No disrespect to the (also excellent) meatballs and vegetarian fritters.
Oh and how about the drinks?
A bar with Cruzcampo on tap knows what it’s talking about – although to be honest almost any Spanish lager would do. I’m a fan of Estrella Galicia or Turia, if I’m being fussy I would have preferred one of those. But Cruzcampo is a cut above something like the standard San Miguel – which is a good baseline to be fair.
If we’re talking about wine, the albariño was exceptional. Always a light and zesty tipple, at the Annex their albariño was, for me at least, one of the best I’ve had.
Never one to turn down a good dessert, we tried the passion fruit sortbet and the chocolate fudge brownie – always a good yardstick for a dessert menu’s quality. Yes, we could have gone more authentic Spanish and tried the churros or Basque cheesecake – but we’ll save that for next time.
As expected, both were excellent – the brownie just the right side of rich and decadent without being overbearingly sweet. The passion fruit sorbet was excellent too (although I only got to try a little bit). Subtly sweet again, with the tang of the passion fruit sitting on the palate without being too sour.
Our review of the Annex, Tavistock
Service at the Annex was excellent throughout, and we received our food probably no more than 15 minutes after arriving. We were even informed that there was a delay and an apology issued, but we found the delivery prompt and the food all came out at roughly the same time.
For a table of four, the price was also very reasonable – with a good selection of food, booze, desserts and coffees clocking in at under £90 all told.
Is this the best tapas restaurant in Devon? For us, so far, absolutely…
Book a table at https://theannextavistock.co.uk/