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The experience of eating tapas is all about sharing, socialising and checking in with that familiar desire to escape to sun-drenched foreign shores. Best enjoyed across a leisurely few hours and over a glass or two of good wine, Britain’s love affair with the no-frills finger food has blossomed these last few years - and with high street chains quick to claim tapas as their own, the nation’s appetite for novelty cuisine shows no sign of abating. So when a tapas restaurant like Casa Med comes along, it makes me want to crack open the sangria in celebration!
Located at the heart of Bromsgrove, just a short walk from the train station, this delightful addition to the high street is already making waves within the Worcestershire business community. And, judging from my experience there, it isn’t hard to see why.
Tucked away like some delicious secret waiting to be discovered, Casa Med is every bit the authentic ‘tapas experience’ - small but perfectly formed, exuding warmth and imbued with the true spirit of the Mediterranean.
From the moment I stepped off the high street and onto the cobbled promenade, I was transported away from day-to-day drudgery. Sheltered by surrounding pine trees, dressed with olive plants, overlaid with line upon line of fairy lights and boasting rustic beams and quirky old-world charm, there was something altogether enchanting about this place, from the earthenware pots and tapas bowls right through to the vintage poster prints of old Madrid that decorated the white-washed walls.
In keeping with the restaurant’s relaxed ethos, Casa Med’s menu is extensive as opposed to overwhelming. Bringing together Spanish staples such as Abondigas (handmade meatballs), Patatas Bravas (fried potato with smoky tomato sauce) and Gambas el Diablo (prawns cooked in white wine and chilli) with the best of Greek meze and Moroccan-inspired cuisine, this was a Mediterranean adventure in its broadest sense.
Taking the advice of our friendly waitress and opting for a hand-made flatbread starter at £3.75 (drizzled with a light extra virgin olive oil and accompanied by a side order of Gordal, Manzilla and Black olives), our choice of dips included the classic Greek Tzatziki and the Moroccan-inspired Zaalouk - a moreish concoction of roasted aubergine, cumin, paprika, coriander and tomatoes. Both were priced at a reasonable £2.75 each.
After supping on a leisurely glass of the Bodegas Borsao Maccabeo - a light and refreshing Spanish chardonnay with hints of peach and lemon - it was time to get serious. From the East Mediterranean, Charmoula Chicken skewers cooked in lemon, paprika and fresh coriander (£6.95) provided a zesty and refreshing complement to the rich, sweet notes of the handmade meatballs in sherry sauce - cooked to perfection and oozing flavour. From the South Mediterranean, the Cod Loin in Serrano Ham (£7.95) was very much the surprise hit of the evening. The cod was tender yet firm in texture, complemented beautifully by the subtle smokiness of the pork and matched only by the waitress’s choice of Harissa Chicken with spinach and sweet cherry tomatoes (which alone was worth our visit!).
With the stakes well and truly raised, it all rested on the Patatas Ailoli (£4.45). We weren’t disappointed. Fluffy on the inside with a lightly spiced outer skin and served with a deliciously rich garlic mayonnaise, these potatoes really were too good to share!
For the perfect fiesta with friends, Casa Med also offers a 12-to-14-dish Party Menu priced at a not-unreasonable £17.50 per head for 9 to 14 diners, and £22.50 per head for 15 to 24 diners. Ideal for sharing and the perfect choice for any celebration.
With the prospect of an early-morning start prompting us to head for home, it was time to catch the last train back to reality. Such was the unique ambience of Casa Med that leaving via the tree-lined avenue felt akin to being on a holiday that had come to an end all too soon.
Warm, welcoming and intimate in style, Casa Med’s abundant charm is matched by a genuine passion for food and a willingness to let fresh produce speak for itself. This was tapas as it’s meant to be experienced - enjoyed in a relaxed atmosphere, cooked to perfection and boasting the unmistakable flavours of the Med.
Bromsgrove’s best-kept secret is out and, like its food, is well worth sharing...
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