Tierra & Mar is a relatively new tapas restaurant in Cirencester. It is owned by Brett and Silvia who met while working in a variety of Michelin starred restaurants across England, Australia and Spain. They have brought their skills to the Cotswolds and today is our chance to see what they can do.
It all starts very well. Rock has sparkling elderflower, while I try a Spanish beer. Inet Damm is described as an award winning malt & wheat beer brewed with spice – it is extraordinary. Created by the El Bulli chef, Ferran Adria, and the Damm brewers – it manages to incorporate the flavours of coriander, liquorice and orange peel in a way that is completely harmonious. More importantly, it seems to work with a very wide variety of food and thus perfect for tapas.
Excellent canapés of empanada with mediterranean vegetables and crackers topped with marinated sardine & yoghurt arrive next. These are followed by freshly baked bread rolls in two varieties, rosemary and brown, and served with extra virgin olive oil. This is so good and we haven’t even started our tapas yet!
The first dish is a smoked duck breast & confit duck leg terrine served with pistachio, poached plums and red onion marmalade. But it’s not that simple – there are also small cubes of jelly, dashes of cream and herb sprigs (see featured image). The combination of flavours is just outstanding.
Next is monkfish wrapped in Serrano ham with pea and mint puree, chorizo jam, sauteed potatoes and an almond & garlic sauce. The monkfish is soft and almost melts against the crispy ham wrapping, again the complexity of flavours and textures is amazing.
The tuna tartare follows – raw marinated tuna served with avocado, grated horseradish, slivers of radish and tiny pieces of finely toasted bread. It is very clever – the use of marination and the highly skilled balancing of quality ingredients creates a refreshing and vibrant dish.
Then patatas bravas and marinated fried chicken wings with pickled carrot, carrot puree, parsnip, basil and a honey & orange chicken sauce. The patatas bravas are simple but you need some simple to go with the complexity of the other dishes. The chicken wings are part of another fabulous balance of flavour combinations.
You would think after canapes, bread, duck, monkfish, tuna, patatas bravas and chicken that those with modest appetites, like us, would not even contemplate dessert. However, the food here has been so exceptional…we have to try one. We go for the poached rhubarb with pistachio, ginger and cream cheese icing. It is yet another beautifully presented dish – soft rhubarb, crunchy pistachio both enhanced by expertly flavoured jellies and creams. Sensational!
We don’t have time to stop for coffee but Paco, who has looked after us fabulously throughout lunch, gives us some beautiful petit fours anyway. There have been a few contenders this year….. but so far this has been our best meal of 2018!