Do you have that restaurant where, no matter how many times you’ve been, you will always just keep going back?
I won’t lie, there are only a few restaurants in Swindon that have this effect on me, and one of them is Spanish tapas bar Los Gatos. Whether I’m there for lunch or dinner, this authentic little gem on Devizes Road always leaves me warm and, yes, a little bit more cultured since I woke up.
For a quick bite to eat on a lunch time, like the Ocelot’s last visit, I’m always assured that some of my household favourites are there waiting for me such as Pescado Borracho, – hake in beer batter – Coliflor al Azafran, – Cauliflower spiced with saffron – Pato Ahumado, – house-smoked duck breast – and Arroz con Pollo – ‘mini paella’ – to name a few. But, equally not being a creature of habit, my first port of call is always the special’s board and without hesitation we ordered them: Tustada de Sardinas, – pan fried Cornish sardine on sour dough – Pierna de Cabrito, – slow roasted leg of goat – and Sanctuary Tapas, – Mohammed’s chickpea falafel.
As per tapas protocol each dish comes to your table when it’s fresh off the cooker and, as usual, it’s a bombardment of rich flavours and diverse textures one plate after another – and this isn’t strict to tapas, but it is to Los Gatos. But it was sardines and duck breast that won me over this particular trip. The sardines were fresh, crisp and delicate, and perfectly paired with the pickled cabbage and red sauce, with the duck breast gloriously tender and rich, which also combined a pleasant acidity from the pickled lettuce and creamy coolness of the crème fraiche. Delicioso!
Design-wise the combination of tiles and wood give Los Gatos that indoor-outdoor feel – you could, even just for a brief second, be fooled that you’re sitting on a terrace, grazing over tapas on a warm Spanish evening (preferably with a glass of red).
Los Gatos really does feel like you’re in Spain, but minus the travel costs (and, believe me, if we do leave the EU 1-3 Devizes Road will be your number one go-to Spanish destination).