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Eat My Words: We review West Street Tapas, Queenborough, owned by Admiral’s Arm Micropub

They say it’s a mistake to make decisions when you’re hungry, but I had few regrets when I found myself surrounded by a sea of Spanish food.

I had just returned from a football tournament absolutely starving and was looking to fill a very large void when I sat down at West Street Tapas.

Reporter Joe Crossley surrounded by plates during a visit to West Street Tapas in Queenborough
Reporter Joe Crossley surrounded by plates during a visit to West Street Tapas in Queenborough

Owned by the adjacent Admiral’s Arm Micropub, it is at the forefront of a seemingly-thriving scene of independent food and drink venues next to the quaint Queenborough harbour on the Isle of Sheppey.

As a restaurant serving “a bite-sized taste of Spain,” this looked to be the perfect place to spend a hot Saturday evening.

I love tapas-style venues partly because of the social element as it gives you easy conversation starters – ‘Have you tried this dish? That looks nice, what is it? Wow that’s good, keep your hands off that.’

In my albeit limited experience, the food is usually amazing and there is always something different on the menu to try, so I had high hopes.

Despite my admiration for the Iberian style of eating my mum was sceptical. We have been to tapas restaurants before but she always orders a separate dish just for her while the rest of us go to town.

The entrance wasn't immediately obvious
The entrance wasn't immediately obvious

However, she is not one to turn down an evening out so agreed to dinner along with my dad.

I parked up for free in West Street and met them at the restaurant as they had got the train from Sittingbourne.

While I found the restaurant pretty easily my parents said they would have liked a bit more signage telling where to go, and were a bit unsure as to where exactly it was.

It is nestled away next to its parent micropub, through the yard and on the left.

I was impressed as I entered what is quite a small floor space, with around 20 covers.

Our table was booked early, for 6pm, so we were the first customers of the evening but were soon joined by two other tables and others were walking in to book.

Inside the restaurant
Inside the restaurant
The decor at West Street Tapas
The decor at West Street Tapas

I have never been inside a tapas restaurant in Spain, only sitting outside one in Barcelona, so I can’t say whether it is authentic or not – I’ll let you be the judge of that.

However, what I am sure of is that a lot of effort, passion and care has gone into making the restaurant comfortable and a lovely place to spend an evening.

Our attentive hostess for the evening, Tracey, welcomed me, beaming ear to ear, and ran me through what the restaurant had to offer, remembering I had told her it was my first time when I booked during the week.

She explained while they had a whole host of Spanish drinks available we could also order from the micropub’s extensive list of beverages.

I went with Tracey’s recommendation, a Spanish beer Alhambra Especial, which in the summer heat hit the spot.

My beer of choice, Alhambra Especial
My beer of choice, Alhambra Especial

My parents arrived not too long after and were greeted similarly, with my dad going for the same, and my mum plumping for a glass of white Rioja which she enjoyed so much she went for a second.

After grabbing our drinks we ordered our cold dishes. The Tabla de Embutidos provided a selection of meats including pork loin, chorizo, cecina, serrano ham and salchichon.

This was served with some spicy pickled peppers, which Tracey admitted was something she didn’t eat herself. But despite the heat, I ate a whole one which I quite enjoyed, as I did with the rest of the cold meats.

We also had the Tabla Mixta - a sharing platter of manchego cheese with quince jelly, charcuterie, pan con tomatoes, salted almonds – a Crossley favourite after the visit – and queen olives.

Again every single item was enjoyable and set us up for the hot plates which came swiftly afterwards.

Cold Tapas dishes: Tabla Mixta (top) and Tabla de Embutidos, were served first
Cold Tapas dishes: Tabla Mixta (top) and Tabla de Embutidos, were served first

First to arrive were the patatas bravas, which I had ordered, and cod fritters plus mushroom balls and fried mushrooms for the oldens.

The potatoes were coated in a spicy tomato sauce and were absolutely delicious. This was not a plate I was that happy to be sharing so I recommend ordering a couple of these if you are eating with others and want to gorge down on this fried goodness to your heart's content.

I am not the biggest fan of mushrooms so didn’t go for them, but I did have one of the mushroom balls which was lovely as it did not have the usual texture.

As we were eating Tracey brought out more and more food that we had ordered, including pork belly – my mum's favourite of the evening – chorizo sausages and chicken wings.

Soon I found myself surrounded by dishes and was able to have a bit of this and a bit of that.

I was soon getting full and between us we had finished off one or two plates before the calamari and padron peppers came out.

Oliver Twist certainly would have been satisfied and not asking for more had he traded places with me.

While I would say that it was a battle getting through the food, it was so good that it was a fight I was happy to be involved in. I continued to eat and eat and eat away until I was well and truly stuffed.

Despite being full to the brim we still went for dessert.

To make sure we were sampling as much as possible we went for the Table de Postre – which was a sample of three desserts on one plate.

Three deserts on one plate... yes please
Three deserts on one plate... yes please

There were churros with a chocolate sauce, cheesecake from the Basque region and almond cake which again were amazing and we all were able to find just enough space to fit them in.

All this set us back more than £100, which for the three of us works out just under £35 each. For what it was it was certainly worth it, as it included enough food to fill me up for at least a couple of days and for two rounds of drinks plus desserts.

When Tracey came in and out with the dishes she had a quick chat with us, telling us a bit about the business and answering our questions – which is quite handy for an undercover reporter.

The eatery opened in July 2022 so has been going for less than two years with Tracey starting her role in September.

She told us that she had been in the hospitality industry for around 20 years and this experience showed thanks to her attentiveness, knowledge of the menu and being happy to help at all times.

West Street Tapas is owned by the Admiral's Arm Micropub
West Street Tapas is owned by the Admiral's Arm Micropub

She also said that it was the chef, Leanne’s, first night cooking the assortment of foods on her own. Leanne came out to talk to us and the other customers and it was lovely to say thank you for what was a wonderfully-prepared meal.

I would recommend West Street Tapas to anyone as, thanks to the variety of dishes, there’s something that everyone will like.

The experience even helped to change my mum’s opinion on tapas-styled eating and she was planning her next trip while we were still eating.

With the micropub next door, the harbour just around the corner, and the cute tearoom at the end of the street, it’s safe to say Queenborough has a lot to offer foodies who make the trip.

Out of five:

Food: What can I possibly say other than it was all delicious, particularly the patatas bravas which I would eat very happily every day of my life *****

Drink: A variety of Spanish wines and beers but you also get a variety of brews from the micropub next door *****

Decor: Lovingly put together which made for comfortable surroundings. The chairs were a little uncomfortable as they were metal backed but altogether no complaints ****

Staff: Tracey was simply brilliant, catering to all our needs *****

Price: While £100 for three people does not sound cheap, I would pay it again in a heartbeat *****

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