Where the f*** are all the tapas restaurants?
Traditional Spanish tapas is one of my favourite cuisines. Previously my go-to was Don Diego in Sutton Coldfield but that sadly closed before the Pandemic. I enjoyed many nights in there swinging back sangria and chomping on Don’s meatballs. Before you start to think you have clicked on the wrong link, let’s quickly move on to Alioli, a new Spanish tapas restaurant that has opened up in Solihull’s Touchwood shopping centre.
I was kindly invited by Alioli to experience the gypsy culture of Andalusia through their tapas dishes. Was this the tapas restaurant I had been waiting for? Well I am not telling you yet, read on you little scamp!
Please note that this experience was gifted, and this is my honest opinion.
Thursday lunchtime James and I arrived and had our pick of the tables at the back of the restaurant. Alioli is decorated beautifully throughout, very traditional with splashes of red yellow and blue. I found it quite romantic in there – definitely getting those Friday night date feels. I loved the variety the menu offered but not so much the price – nearly £10 for a couple of prawns in lemon and parsley?! I wanted to find out how special these prawns were but unfortunately they never arrived! I only realised when I got home and noticed on the bill. I must have been distracted by the “Oreo Cookies” £7.50 which were grilled Murcilla de Burgos (black pudding with rice) and goats cheese, finished with paprika alioli. I am not a fan of black pudding, but it turned out to be one of my favourites of the evening.
We ordered the Chistorra al vino which is chorizo cooked in red wine £8 which was beautiful and with a piece of sourdough dipped in the sauce…It was Verdaderamente maravillosa (meaning truly wonderful in English!)
We shared the Tabla de Ibericos, a selection of cured meat which didn’t blow me away at all, to be honest some of the meat didn’t taste right to me, almost like it had been left out for too long. The dish was priced at £17 accompanied by some tiny breadsticks. I didn’t really understand what to do with them as there was no sauce that came with the selection, and my attempt to wrap a piece of ham round one failed miserably.
The Patatas Bravas were very nice, an improvement on the little tiddly ones swimming in sauce that you often find in the not so traditional tapas places. Only a little bit of brava and alioli sauce so you could really taste those crispy coated fluffy potatoes. Another dish that I enjoyed was Berenjena con Miel £6 which is crispy aubergine sticks dipped in a blob of alioli. It really took me by surprise as I am not a big fan of aubergine. Nice and crisp and wonderfully seasoned.
Service was good, I noticed a few others mentioned they received bad customer service on their visits, but I didn’t experience this at all. Very friendly, very helpful and the staff were up for a chat. We ordered mocktails: A Mediterranean Blue which was elderflower, grapefruit, Lemon verbena and cucumber, and the Flamenco Red which was raspberry, red cherry, rose and cranberries. Both were light and refreshing, great drinks to cool you down in the heat.
Overall my experience of Alioli was a pleasant one. It’s sadly not the tapas restaurant I had been praying for but it’s decent. It is quite pricey, so those on a budget may order less and leave feeling hungry. Personally, with the exception of a few dishes, I struggle to see this as good value for money. Of course Tapas can be very pricey, but I have paid around £40 at other Tapas restaurants and have felt very full and satisfied, something was missing here. My bill came to around £55 and I left feeling I could eat 2 x Stripclub burger’s from down the road. Perhaps we picked the wrong dishes and I always think new restaurants should get a second chance so Alioli will be on my “Give it another shot” list to try out in the next few months.