Sponsored: Experience an authentic taste of Spain in the heart of Barsha.
Dubai has long been heralded as a melting pot of food and cultures, but if there is one cuisine that has been underrepresented in our fair city, it’s Spanish.
Those searching for a traditional paella, homemade Sangria, fluffy tortilla or fiery patatas bravas need long no further than the newly opened Lola Taberna Española.
Tucked away in the compact space Lola’s transition into an authentic Spanish taberna is flawless. Wooden shutters let slithers of sunlight into the intimate dining room packed with wooden tables, decorative artworks of seductive Flamenco dancers and monochrome floor tiles. A sleek bar with high seating stretches along one side of the atmospheric restaurant, while an abundance of foliage drapes elegantly from the oversized light fittings.
The team at Lola Taberna Española have purposefully kept things causal and unpretentious and it certainly shows when we rock up for an early mid-week dinner. There is barely a spare table in the house and the crowd is lively, instilling the venue with a sense of frivolity. A large television screen features the ‘running of the bulls’, a centuries-old tradition that involves people running in front of a group of cattle. We’re immediately enraptured…
Influenced by the streets of Andalusia, Lola Taberna Española pays tribute to Spanish cuisine and culture, with food cooked from the heart and ideal for sharing with family or groups of friends. We begin with a fully laden mixed charcuterie and cheese board (AED 89) which offers four varieties of cheese (including alluringly sweet goat cheese) and a quartet of thinly sliced meats that immediately transports us back to the Spanish holidays of our childhood. Upon the recommendation of Lola’s friendly restaurant manager, Lloy, we pair pile the charcuterie and cheese upon bread with tomato and olive oil (AED 34) and are suitably impressed.
A selection of nibbles, broken eggs, Spanish sandwiches and dishes ‘on the charcoal’ make up the majority of Lola’s appealing menu and we can’t resist trying a few dishes from each section. The sea bass tiradito and green mojo (AED 54)is an instant favourite, offering thin slithers of delicate sea bass with a robust sauce from the Canary Islands made from garlic, coriander and olive oil that elevates the raw fish without overpowering.
The Andalusian style calamari with all’i’oli (AED 57) represents simplicity at its best, with a crisp batter giving way to the tender mollusc heightened with a quick spritz of lemon to accentuate the flavours.
Six varieties of paella are offered, each designed to be shared between two people, including seafood, chicken and vegetable iterations. We opt for the Negra con puntillas and aall’i’oli (AED 169), a black squid ink paella adorned with baby squids and topped with dollops of creamy aall’i’oli. The paella is an easy contender for best in Dubai, with a charred flavour imparted from the pan onto the thin layer of blackened rice.
We’re almost too full for dessert, but we make room for the Manchego cheesecake (AED 39) which is subtle, light and perfectly complemented by a refreshing lemon sorbet. Similarly, the Spanish Toast (AED 39) is sweet and fluffy and makes for a decadent yet memorable end to the meal.
Lola Taberna Española has certainly filled a gap in the market in busy Barsha Heights, offering a casual dining spot anchored around good food, friendly service and a stimulating atmosphere. So while Spanish holidays are unlikely to be on the agenda for many of us this summer, Lola offers a pleasing alternative. An authentic taste of Spain to delight and inspire Dubai diners.