Fino is in no way a budget restaurant but it sure is fantastic! We had a little occasion to celebrate and Blai requested a meal of cochinillo, a roasted milk-fed piglet that is the specialty of Segovia in Castilla–Leon in Spain; I quickly agreed with that idea! I found that Fino served it as well as other fine tapas (it is the sister restaurant to Barrafina) and so I booked immediately. We were supposed to eat there in early February but our reservation got cancelled at the last minute due to flooding in this basement restaurant. Last week was the first time since then that we were able to find a free evening – their website does say that they only managed to reopen in mid-March though. An excellent review appeared in the Metro the week before we visited, confirming that I’d chosen a good ‘un.
Boy, was I excited – suckling pig! My research was so thorough in the subject (yes, I know I’m insane) that I even spent some time on YouTube looking at cochinillo videos, confirming that the skin of the pig should be extra crisp. The roasted piglet itself should also be so tender that a plate is used to portion the whole piglet to show off this fact. They take their piggies seriously in Segovia!
But man cannot dine on piglet alone (or can he?); we ordered some other tapas too, making our decisions while munching on some complimentary olives. To start, a couple of crab croquetas (£3.50). These spherical croquetas contained a creamy, delicately flavoured crab and bechamel filling – very nice.
Next came a small potful of arroz negro (£8.90). This black rice was topped with a single grilled baby squid, so tender and garlicky. The rice was tender but with a slight bite to it but it was a little soupier than I expected and it didn’t come with any allioli (a garlic and oil mayo), the traditional accompaniment to arroz negro. Still, it was delicious and we ate every last bit.
Then along came our roast suckling pig – exactly 1/4 of a pig (complete with itty bitty hoof), the recommended serving size for 2-3 people (£35). This little milk-fed pig was sourced directly from Segovia and must be ordered a minimum of 48 hours in advance. Oh, the skin was so crisp and the fat just under the skin was tremendously tasty and the meat was so soft. Yes, it’s a bit pricey but really, it’s fantastic and they roast it very well here. A tiny copper pot was served alongside, containing a mouthwatering concoction of roast piglet juices, lots of garlic, thyme and I think a bit of lemon (there was a little acidity in there). I was almost drinking that when we’d finished the pork. OK, I actually did drink it. As Blai aptly put it, “There are three piggies at this table.”
Throughout the month of March, they were offering calçots (£5.50), the large Catalan spring onions served grilled with Romesco. This arrived alongside our piglet and was just beautiful: tender, smoky, soft spring onions and the Romesco so full of flavour that we almost licked the plate clean. We’d heard from Blai’s mother that a slightly different Romesco, a salvitxada, is served with calçots but I have no idea how this compares to it. I need to go to a calçotada!
Finally, our classic tortilla (£5.50) also came to fill up our table. I love the little round tortillas that they make – the inside is beautifully moist and the whole thing sure beats any tortilla that I’ve ever made. What you see here is just a quarter of it.
We just had enough room at the end for dessert. Blai chose the sorbets (£6.50), which unsurprisingly turned out to be a selection of three homemade (I think) sorbets: mango, pear, and passionfruit. The sorbets reminded me of those from Berthillon in Paris, where the flavour of each fruit is captured so perfectly. The grainy texture of a pear was also apparent in that sorbet.
I chose the more enigmatic donuts and vanilla ice cream (£6.50), thinking that perhaps some kind of sweet bunyol/fritter would arrive. It really did turn out to be three very large donuts dusted with sugar and cinnamon served with a small quenelle of a very rich and creamy vanilla ice cream. These were yeasty rather than cakey donuts and as it’d been a while since I had one, I enjoyed mine very much!
Do I recommend it? Of course I do! – perhaps not for everyday eating (I wish!) but definitely if you have a special occasion. Howerver, If you’re planning on visiting, don’t forget to make a reservation! Even on a Tuesday night, the place was absolutely rammed.
33 Charlotte Street
London W1T 1RR