A Spanish Scene To Savour

Daniel White stopped by Hove’s Latino Restaurant where an authentic taste of Spain was waiting

Wednesdays are the new Fridays.

Well, if Hove’s Latino Tapas Bar is anything to go by. On a mild spring evening, the type which surprises you as to how few layers you’re actually able to get away with, my partner and I took a trip along Church Road with eyes for Michael De Napoli’s Latino Restaurant.

Upon entering we were greeted with a smile and an irresistible mixture of smells emanating from the kitchen.

After being shown to our window table, my partner ordered a glass of the house white wine while I decided to ease into the Spanish flavour with a bottle of San Miguel.

After they arrived, we sat sipping at our drinks, allowing the memory of the day’s work to slowly fade away into a distant memory as we watched the bustling street outside, awash with contented faces, all soaking in the pleasantness of this particular Wednesday night.

Once we had re-found our focus we ordered some olives and the refreshing Pan Con Tomato, a simple yet surprisingly tasty appetizer. The simplicity of a warm rustic loaf topped with garlic and cold tomato is easy to understand, yet the taste that was produced by David, the head chef, with such few ingredients is not as easy to comprehend. Either way, it was easy to enjoy.

Excited stomachs all-round after our first taste of Latino cuisine, we quickly moved on to ordering a selection of their renowned tapas they have on offer, with an eye on some of the new additions that have been introduced following the launch of their new menu; including their Spanish, Mexican and Italian 100% beef burgers that come with a side of chunky chips.

However, after much deliberation and a fair amount of contemplation as to how much we could actually eat, we decided upon the Garbanzos; chickpeas with chorizo and spinach, Croquetas Pollo y Jamon; fried croquets of chicken and ham, Gambas al Pil Pil; peeled prawns and the Tortilla Clasica; a classic Spanish omelette.

While the flow of customers eager to sample Latino’s eatables grew from a steady stream into a miniature tsunami, we were unable to focus anywhere other than the peeled prawns that had just appeared from the kitchen, blazing up a storm in our appetite.

Still sizzling as they arrived at our table, the prawns were infused with chilli, garlic and white wine and seemed to have vanished before they had barley touched the tablecloth.

Alongside our prawns we were presented with the chickpeas with chorizo and spinach as well as Mikol’s top suggestion, the croquets. Both were extremely tasty and the later especially had my partner and I eyeing each other up for who would be the bigger person and who would have the bigger plate. In the end she won.

Following up closely behind was the Spanish omelette topped with a cheese and garlic sauce that was so flavoursome and moreish my guest declared she had “never had omelette this good before!”

Plates well and truly cleared, we able to decline into our seats and take in the authentic Spanish atmosphere that has been a mainstay of Latino restaurant since its opening in 1992.

Already a buckle further down on my belt, the dessert menu was placed in front of us and, while neither of us felt sufficiently hungry to order one each, we made a combined decision to order the Crème Catalana, as it has been a long-time favourite of my partner.

Despite an earlier belief that we were full, when the Crème Catalana – or crème caramel – was brought to our table, that feeling was soon washed away as we dove straight in.

It would be hard to believe that I am not generally a dessert man as I tucked in with vigour, both of us devouring the perfectly sized finale before our spoons hit the table, mouth flooded with sweet flavours.

Once we had mustered up the energy to leave – and not before realising my squeeze out from the table had become that little bit tighter – we said our goodbyes and headed back out into the mild Wednesday night, joining the sea of satisfied faces and this time fitting right in.