Does anyone else keep a list of local eatery’s that they intend to try out? If so, have you ever actually worked your way through it? In my case, for every place I cross off, another gets written at the bottom, which is probably one of the main reasons I like living in Northampton so much. Now I’m no whizz in the kitchen, but damn I’m good at sampling the products of other people’s!
For a long time I’d heard about this “great little tapas bar” on Kingsley Park Terrace, but jotting its name on to my ‘to do’ list had been the closest I’d got to going. That was up until one weeknight a fortnight or so back, when my other half came home and uttered those magical words: “Do you fancy going out for dinner tonight?” Maybe it was because the weather was picking up, maybe it was because of something inspirational seen on the Good Food Channel, or maybe it was just one of those times when a girl craves chorizo, but when I consulted The List, only one option seemed the right choice — Sol Y Luna Tapas Bar.
With bellies rumbling, we ventured out immediately and it was a good job we did, because if we’d left the house even 20 minutes later, this small, intimate tapas bar would not have been able to accommodate us given all their bookings for the night ahead. It is a very compact venue, with tables set outside both front and back and only a handful of tables inside, with seating along the bar itself for those wanting to honour the proper traditions of tapas. The rear garden is very prettily decked out with heaters and plenty of covering for when our weather does its best to prove itself the polar opposite of Spanish climes!
We managed to bag a table at the foot of the bar and began perusing the drinks menu — my husband was chuffed to bits to find a white Rioja on the wine list, as this rare tipple is a favourite of his. Getting into the spirit of things, I decided on a San Miguel, and our waitress swiftly brought us some complimentary olives to kick things off. As well as the tapas menu, there was a blackboard listing the specials and another listing a selection of dishes called pinchos served on cocktail sticks, and another board informed us that on Sunday afternoons, they specialise in paella, which only served to make me get The List back out and write ‘Paella Sundays at Sol Y Luna’ at its base.
‘Pinchos’ in Spanish literally means spike, which is what the Spanish call a cocktail stick. In Spain pinchos are typically self service from a cabinet sat on the bar. After eating one you retain the cocktail stick to show the barman how many you have had.
I am such a fan of tapas that if I had an endless amount of money and a bottomless pit of a stomach (at times I do question the latter) I could easily have asked our waitress to bring us one of every item on the menu. That’s how tricky it was to narrow down our selections. In the end, after much ruthlessness on the part of my spouse, we decided upon the following: patatas bravas with aioli and smoked paprika, queso de cabra (baked goat’s cheese with caramelised onions and redcurrant), calamares a la Romana (deep fried squid rings), chorizo a la Sidra (mini sausages in cider sauce) and alb ndigas con tomate (meatballs smothered in salsa). Just typing out those dishes makes me salivate; we weren’t waiting long before they were being positioned in a tantalising row on our table for us to tuck into. Again, we were faced with a dilemma — which to try first?!
As I love goat’s cheese with a passion close to religious ecstasy, I aimed my fork at the queso de cabra and told my husband that if he wanted to try any, he better fight for his share, thus beginning the cutlery war. The goat’s cheese was generous, creamy and complemented perfectly by its crown of juicy caramelised onions, the patatas bravas was a generous portion of perfectly cooked potato chunks zinged up nicely by the garlic sauce and paprika; my husband is the seafood fan out of the two of us and he thoroughly enjoyed the squid rings, which I liked dipping into the sauces of every other dish; the meatballs were piping hot and tender in a truly succulent salsa and those little sausages of heaven definitely satisfied my chorizo craving (for the night at least). As we made utter pigs of ourselves, our waitress brought us some complimentary bread, which we gratefully used to soak up and slurp down every last droplet of sauce from every bowl, making noises akin to the sounds of lions feasting upon buffalo flesh in the Serengeti. Oh we’re truly a joy to dine out with, my husband and I.
It had been a delightful meal in warm, cosy and informal surroundings and we weren’t quite ready to head home yet, so to round things off we looked the dessert menu over and chose the chocolate caliente con churros with hot chocolate sauce. These doughy little beauties were crunchy and tasty dipped in the runny sauce, which was served in a tiny coffee cup. Having had a disaster with supermarket-bought churros before, we were very pleased to see them done traditionally and done well. You’ll be surprised to hear this, but I did actually allow my husband to eat most of them (the idea is to share tapas after all!)
By that point, the diners who had had the foresight to book ahead were beginning to pile in and it was time for us to leave Sol Y Luna behind. Dusk was upon us and the twinkling of fairy lights and candles was lulling us both into one of those lovely snoozy states that only come about when you’ve had a delicious meal at a local eatery you’re really glad you visited — finally.
Sol Y Lunas Tapas Bar can be found on Kingsley Park Terrace in Northampton.
To find out more, please visit their website
(www.solylunatapas.co.uk) or call them on
01604 456750 to book.