Gaudy decor and tiny f**king portions: the gammon food critic takes on tapas

Restaurant reviews by Justin Tanner, our retired food critic who voted UKIP six elections in a row

IF Spanish food’s any good, how come the Costa del Sol’s full of English pubs selling English food? Answer me that. 

Exactly. But there’s a fancy new tapas place opening by the ringroad, so as Warwickshire’s resident gastronaut I’m duty-bound to give it the once-over.

The place used to be a Poppins, serving proper dishes like fish fingers and chips, sausage and mash and full English breakfasts. Back when this country embraced its own national cuisine, before we all pretended to be in fucking Barcelona.

The decor is a gaudy hotch-potch of childish colour and pictures of street carnivals in Madrid or some shit. It’s a country where sport means dressing up to get chased around by an angry bull, so gravitas and good taste are not their strong points.

The staff are mostly young Spaniards, with a smattering of eastern Europeans. Family business propped up with immigrants. Thought we’d Got Brexit Done? More fool you.

I ordered a selection of tapas. When in Rome, so to speak. Tapas, I Googled, translates as ‘lid’ or ‘cover’ and historically refers to a slice of bread placed over your sherry glass to keep flies out of it and to nibble on while you drink. Though presumably the flies would have been all over the bread. With these hygiene standards it’s no wonder I didn’t do a solid stool for a week in Fuerteventura.

First problem? The portion sizes are fucking tiny. If an army marches on its stomach it’s no wonder the Spanish sat on the fence through World War Two, to their eternal shame.

The paella, a traditional Andalucian rice dish, is a confused offering including chicken, sausage and prawns. Like they’re dithering over what to eat and go with a bit of everything. More fence-sitting indecision, but like I say, World War Two.

Other specialities included chorizo – a kind of Spanish attempt at sausage, but riddled with garlic and paprika and other bollocks. The courgette croquettes looked promising, closely resembling McNuggets as they do, but were mostly herbs and air.

Then there were mussels. Fucking mussels! Who the fuck wants to eat a slimy sea snail with a consistency like warm snot?

There was also a noticeable lack of chips. Now, you may say chips aren’t traditional Spanish food, but ever had patatas bravas? Chips and ketchup. So they’ve no excuse.

I skipped dessert as my guts were backflipping after the mussels. I didn’t hang around for the bill as I’m a food critic. And anyway I didn’t give my real name and I won’t be going back.

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A confused Millennial tries to… organise a night out without a mobile

IN the dim and distant past, nobody had iPhones. Texting hadn’t been invented. You would leave a message for a friend by ‘telling their dad’. 

In my ongoing inquiries to find out if old people are in fact human, I’m going to try to surmount one of the greatest challenges of their lives: organising a night out.

My phone is removed from me. Instantly, I feel isolated and terrifyingly alone, like Matt Damon in The Martian, denied the human warmth of ‘C u maccy D ltr?’

‘Stop being a bloody drama queen and use the landline,’ Dad said. It’s weird how violent homophobia like that hits home harder when there’s no friends to share it with.

I went to the landline, which is like a phone you can only use in one place. None of my mates’ numbers were on there. I felt the walls closing in around me, all hope of escape slipping away.

By a million-to-one chance Mum had Jen’s number written down. I had to type it in exact sequence against the clock, like a heist movie. A man called Derek answered the first few times and got abusive. I’d confused a 1 for a 7. How did they live like this?

Finally I got through – and no answer. Only voicemail. What kind of fucking halfwit would invent a phone that only works when you’re out?

I left 20 or so messages explaining my terrible plight. I got no call back. I had to face the awful truth – this Satuday I’d be stuck at home watching Strictly while Mum makes incomprehensible jokes about Claudia Winkleman looking like one of the Munsters.

She saw me on the stairs, head in hands, suffering deep trauma, and said: ‘Why don’t you walk round to Jordan’s? It’s only five minutes, you lazy sod.’ Genius! Even those sliding into senility have lessons to teach.

Jordan was in, though freaked out that I materialised from nowhere, and he had his phone. The WhatsApp group had assumed I was dead but no: I was back in the loop, ready for whatever life could throw at me.

We went to McDonald’s but mostly didn’t buy anything, then to Costa, then listened to hip hop on Liam’s phone, then I went home and had a ham sandwich and a wank.

To think I could so easily have missed that unforgettable night. Technology is meant to serve us, but it can too easily turn into our master. I explained this to Mum, but she laughed and called me a knob.