San Juan is a little tapas place on Beech Road in the ever ‘cool’ Chorlton. With eateries of niche natures opening up left, right and centre, a battle of who is the most gluten free, vegan and more, it’s an utter delight that San Juan does simple tapas delights and just sticks to it.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it is fab that there are places with such a wide variety of foodie wonders. However those places all lack in something that San Juan has: a little bit of who cares flare. It’s crammed into this delightful little corner with a tiny little outside spot squashed up with tables. If it’s a busy night you’re looking at an hour or more wait, but people do wait because not only is the food great but the atmosphere is too. When you go to San Juan, even though you’re in Chorlton, you can’t escape that unmistakable feeling of being on holiday.
It just has that feel in the air, in a place where style can be more significant than substance their garish red and yellow colour scheme just hits the right note of this being a place to have fun, no one can go and say they haven’t had a good time.
The fella and I went down to San Juan the other night and it was, as expected on a Saturday, a long wait. However we opted to sit outside (there was a slight autumn chill but nothing a coat couldn’t protect us from) so were seated much faster. The menu is a mix of meat, cheese and fish tapas dishes and whilst only taking up two small menu pages the decision making process is lengthy. With our bottle of Rioja we cracked on with it and ended up with some real treats.
Obviously we had to get olives. Can’t go anywhere without olives. They were big and juicy and little bitter as though they’d been soaked in lemon juice. I sent the picture to my sisters and they asked if they were apples.
We also had the deep fried goats cheese with a sweet fruit jam to accompany it. The flavours compliment each other so much, this is an absolute must have dish. I agreed with the fella that good goats cheese doesn’t need to be deep friend. However it doesn’t hurt it.
We opted for the rustic bread with a tomato dip, that has a spicy kick to it. This was a nice addition but not essential, I am like a duck though so generally speaking the more bread the better. Plus we could dip our deep fried potatoes between the ali-oli (garlic mayo) and the tomato dip for a nice bit of contrast.
As the fella is a pescatarian, we decided to get a dish of our own each. He got the garlic and hot chilli prawns (puke prawns) and I got the little slices of bread with a spreadable chorizo and quail egg topping. It was gorgeous, the kick of the chorizo shot through the slightly pungent (in a good smelly cheese way) quail egg. I do still kind of wish I’d gotten the beef cheeks but I can save those for next time.
Finally as we always do when we go out for food we got calamari, don’t ask me why but it’s just one of ‘our things’. It was big, chewy and lightly battered in the most delicious way. It ranks second on my list of calamari in Manchester… yes I have a list.
Overall it was a perfect evening, the weather held out and just as it was getting too chilly we headed over to Laundrette for a cocktail. We got the gin one that comes in a bath with popping candy. This caused a great amount of excitement on my part and we will certainly be headed back to try their bloody Mary’s.
If you get chance too definitely go to San Juan and have some of that holiday feeling at home.