Surrounded by iconic buildings like the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe, Camino Bankside is in the unenviable position of having to impress beside historic goliaths. But with friendly service, a buzzing atmosphere and mouth-watering food, the tapas bar manages to capture the imagination in one of the most sought-after spots in London.
No matter which of the multiple glass doors I walked in from, the sleek metal bar was the first thing that caught my attention. It carves out a large portion of the room, demanding that it be the main event. Champagne flutes dangle from above as you order a drink at the bar, just a few steps from the Jamon bar. The rest of the venue is an exercise in themed aesthetics with Mediterranean tiles cover the walls amidst sharp, high seated tables and low, relaxed sofas. The beer garden is perfect for the summer and also gives it dual purpose as a day time eatery and night time drinking den.
The Food and Drink
Camino could pass as an after-work drinks venue and get on just fine, so it almost seems like they’re showing off with having some of the best tapas on the southbank. My friend and I obeyed tapas custom and ordered three dishes each to share. First up, we ordered prawns with garlic, chilli and white wine (£9.50) and the crispy baby squid with alioli and lemon (£5.50). The prawns were cooked to perfection and blended well with the garlic and white wine sauce, which managed to not completely over-power the seafood’s natural flavour. Squid is often hit and miss in tapas bars but I can safely report that this was a home run.
With the food barely touching the sides, we geared up for our second batch: Txigorki baked goat’s cheese with sun-dried tomato and peppers on toasted ciabatta bread (£4.50) and embutidos (£5.25), which was a selection of Spain’s best sliced cured sausages. With the former, it’s good to see as much loving attention poured into the vegetarian option, which each element constructed with loving detail and combining for a zesty taste explosion. The latter were flavoursome, but very hard to fill up on, which ended up being a good thing with what arrived next.
We ended on Adalusian Chicken with cumin, garlic and roasted lemon (£5.50) and the delectable Asturian sirloin steak with celeriac and potato gratin and blue cheese sauce (£14.75). The chicken was just on the wrong side of too much lemon for us, but that still didn't stop it from being devoured completely. The steak, however, is a must when visiting Camino. It was a beautiful, rare taste explosion with a variety of intricate flavours that toyed with the tongue. The best part is that this dish was a recommendation from the waiter - proving that the attentive staff have deep knowledge as well. All of this wass washed down by Mahou beer (£5.20) and a delightfully refreshing beer cocktail Lagerita (£9.50), which combines triple sec, tequila and lime with Moritz beer.
Maybe it's because the venue is sat in the heart of a busy business and tourist destination, or maybe because people have heard about the reasonably priced drinks, but it means the crowd consists of young professionals to middle-aged patrons looking for a fun yet sophisticated place to hang out. It might be a bit too loud for an older crowd, but it's a definite destination for Friday night, after work drinks or date night.
With food as delicious as it is plentiful and a venue that feels welcoming and stylish, Camino Bankside rarely sets a foot wrong. It is an absolute must for anyone in the area and for people from out, there's every reason to travel there, especially with its historic surroundings. One of London's finest all round tapas bars that has found itself a returning diner.