By Robin Graham
When they bring me a single baby lamb’s rib on a little slate platter, my first reaction is to wonder whether someone’s having fun with me. I’ve just spent three euros fifty on this – I was expecting maybe two or three. I’m not above stealing the odd slate platter, you know, when sufficiently outraged by a price/portion ratio. These people don’t know who they’re dealing with.
I’ve done it before. As I type I’m eating some toast from a little round platter I stole from an over-priced jamón (ham) joint in Seville. You’d be surprised at the consistency with which poor, overpriced portions get served on slate platters, so they have become something of a focal point for my attempts at revenge, and they make much nicer souvenirs than fridge magnets.
I leave it this time though. Apart from anything else, the bartender is watching me closely – I don’t suppose it’s everyone that photographs their costilla before tucking in. I must admit it’s delicious – tender and served in a crispy batter, laced with honey. The four-and-a-half-seconds it takes to eat it are very enjoyable indeed, then I’m at a loose end again.
The surroundings as well are beautifully done, if I’m being fair. Billing itself as a gastrobar, El Reino de León is one of Jerez de la Frontera’s smarter places, and I really should mention that we see some very good-looking food served around us. The crowd is youngish and well-to-do and there’s an enviable selection of fine sherries by the glass if you’re willing to fork up the money.
I’d happily recommend it as a contrast to the town’s more down-to-earth tabancos (bars that serve wine from the barrel) and tapas joints. You can expect some very accomplished food here; just don’t expect much bang for your buck – you’re unlikely to find yourself letting your belt out, unbuttoning a button, or burping.
El Reino de León Gastrobar, Calle Latorre, 8, Jerez de la Frontera
Robin Graham writes at http://alotofwind.com/