Salamanca tapas bar and restaurant may well be the original tapas bar in Dublin. It is now almost 15 years old, which in restaurant years is quite a good age. Busy, buzzy and informal they serve authentic tapas and a good selection of Spanish wines in a fabulous city centre location.
I have had a love affair with Barcelona since we went there with our tiny daughter for the Olympics in 1992. We were young and quite penniless, but we fell in love with the city and its food. We still go every year, at least once, but now generally stay in Sitges and travel in and out of the city from the beach side town.
Tapas of course are everywhere, and we regularly eat in the best restaurants and bars in both Barca and Sitges, so a return trip to Salamanca, with the now grown up daughter seemed like a plan.
Salamanca is on Andrew Street, beside the tourist office and it is painted a bright orange with blackboards outside so it's hard to miss. Inside marble topped tables were filling up fast with a lunchtime crowd and we were shown to a table set for four, which is handy when ordering tapas; small tables can be annoying when the dishes all arrive.
Tapas are many and varied, so we decided to pick the favourites, on the basis that if they're done right, everything else should follow. So we ordered as follows; a plate of Manchego and jamon, deep fried calamari, pulpa ala Parrillo, croquettas and a portion of seafood paella.
Sparkling water and a glass of Albarinho for the now of age Abigail soon arrived, closely followed by our jamon and Manchego, which was really good quality in both cases, and got us off to a good start.
Calamari with aioli was tender and still crispy outside, with no crumbling batter, and the garlic mayo dip was suitably tangy. Croquettes in Spain are made from combining a béchamel sauce with whatever the ingredients are, then coating them in breadcrumbs and deep frying. We had some with jamon, and some with goat’s cheese, and I thought the cheese ones were particularly good.
Pulpa ala Parrillo is a favourite of mine, and it's simply grilled octopus on sautéed potatoes and a sprinkling of paprika. This one was delicious, and I would have been very happy to eat this on the seafront in Sitges, or in Boqueria market itself.
The patatas bravas were exactly as it says on the tin, and the seafood paella was sticky and fishy and had just the right texture and flavour.
While there was a crema Catalana and Churros on the menu, both perennial favourites, we really couldn't eat anymore and finished with two good coffees. Salamanca did just about everything right. These are really good tapas, and the service is friendly, prompt and attentive.
The restaurant was still full when we left, a rare enough sight in Dublin at lunchtime, but the food is great, the prices reasonable and the flavours are spot on. This is good tapas, and no mistake.