A lot of hot ‘air’
Cambio De Tercio is named after a bullfighting move, where a matador charges in a new direction to avoid a bull. With the philosophy of serving ‘modern’ Spanish food instead of traditional tapas, it would seem that the restaurant has taken inspiration from its name. This intention of freshness, however, is at odds with some aspects of Cambio De Tercio.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some dishes which are genuinely good, but awkward attempts at molecular gastronomy do not inspire confidence. The menu highlights these by shouting out, in capital letters, when a dish has a side of ‘air’ or ‘gold’. Grateful at being warned of this, it seems only polite to avoid ordering something which can only end in a bad review.
The majority of the food we do order is satisfactory. Octopus is expertly grilled in paprika oil to give a meaty smokiness. The smouldered outer layer adds volumes of flavour to an underrated protein, whilst managing to retain gorgeously soft insides. Having to fish this out of a sucking-gloop of gelatinous potato ‘parmentier’ is another story. Another dish of carefully grilled king prawns benefits from a marinade of garlic and parsley.
Patatas bravas are traditionally served as wedges of potato with tomato sauce. Not so at Cambio De Tercio, which transforms them into thimbles filled with spicy sauce and aioli. It’s an interesting idea but I am not completely sold on the execution, which replaces fluffy chips with something much less pliable.
Both dishes of grilled lamb cutlets and duck breast are acceptable. The portion of lamb is generous for a smaller plate but crucially lacks any pinkness. Although the duck breast has the correct colour, it also comes with mysterious little parcels which, when opened, release a brownish liquid. After further investigation (consulting a menu) it would seem that the liquid once had something to do with sweetcorn. Neither the taste nor the look of the thing would corroborate this.
My partner is a non-meat eater, and so we specifically order a majority of fish and vegetarian plates mostly for him, with two meat dishes just for me. Unbeknownst to us, the waiters adhere to a strict serving order so that the vegetarian and fish dishes come out first. We nibble at the non-meat plates while fruitlessly waiting for the meat ones so that we can eat together. We are left waiting with half finished, cooling food for a while without any sign of our remaining order or any clarification on the situation. Only after we relinquish what we currently have do the two meats comes out, at which point the regimented serving order becomes clear. By that time, the meat is eaten in a hurry and with little enjoyment.
Cambio De Tercio boasts of celebrity endorsed food but does not live up to the hype in all instances. Although the quality could be improved, the 7 smaller plates we do order are very reasonably sized, and result in an average spend per person of £40. Although Cambio De Tercio has often been quoted as being the best of Spanish cuisine in London, there is significant room for improvement.
Tube: Gloucester Road