Located just off Soho's Kingly Street, well-established Dehesa pulls in hoardes of young professionals. A few passing tourists make it in to sample the Italian and Spanish tapas — if they can get a table — but mostly it's packed with in-the-know media types and city workers.
Dehesa, which opened in 2008, was Salt Yard Group's second venture, sandwiched between their first, eponymous restaurant in Fitzrovia and the newer Opera Tavern, current darling of the Covent Garden restaurant scene.
Décor here is subtle shades of black and tables are bathed in light due to its large street-facing glass windows. Whether you're on one of the comfortable leather sofas or propping up the bar on a wooden stool, it's the perfect place for watching the crowds. Carnivores will be in seventh heaven — the restaurant's namesake is an area in Spain, home to black-footed Ibérico pigs, said to produce the world's best ham.
The charcuterie selection features the famed jamón Ibérico as well as other meat, with lots of fish and vegetable tapas dishes on the menu too. My guest sampled the scallop a la plancha with Jerusalem artichoke puree and caviar (£7.50) — finding it perfectly cooked, but the puree lacking zing — as well as a generous portion of chorizo with smoked aubergine and paprika oil (£5.25). A simple dish however, prawns cooked in Fino sherry, garlic, parsley and chilli (£7.50), got the biggest thumbs up.
Although many of the vegetable tapas dishes include meat, Dehesa pulls off plenty of tried-and-tested veggie bar snacks well. These included crispy-with-sea-salt Padron peppers (£4.25), courgette flowers with creamy Monte Enebro cheese (£7.95) and a drizzle of honey, patatas fritas with Romesco sauce and aioli (£3.75) as well as a huge range of delicious cheeses (£4.50 each).
After so many wonderful bites, washed down with a glass or two of Spanish or Italian wine, dessert is an indulgence rather than a necessity, unless you've been more restrained than we were. That said the creamy date pannacotta with rhubarb (£5.95) is worth squeezing in.
Although the atmosphere at Dehesa is laid back, be sure to book ahead if you want to join the crowd, as this restaurant's popularity shows no signs of waning.
The buzzing and friendly atmosphere.
Classic tapas dishes are executed extremely well.
Flavour combinations are interesting without fussiness — the signature jamón Ibérico and courgette flowers are must tries.
The not so good:
It's great for post-work drinks or a catch up with friends — but not the quietest place for a romantic dinner à deux.
Prices are reasonable, but you'll want to keep ordering and lots of little plates add up.
Unfussy tapas dishes done really well with a twist of decadence — the perfect place to escape the crowds of Oxford Street after a hard day's working (or shopping).
Dehesa, 25 Ganton Street, London, W1F 9BP (+44 (0)20 7494 4170; dehesa.co.uk).