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Cambio de Tercio Review

Gordo finds gastronomic love in Spain (again)

Written by . Published on January 25th 2012.

Cambio de Tercio Review

GORDO was instructed to pick a Spanish restaurant to review as, apparently, Confidential have been concentrating on them for a couple of weeks. Now, in Gordo’s mind there are three kinds of Spanish restaurants.

The first kinds are the traditional restaurants that serve the main meals of the day, lunch and dinner. Gutsy food, full of flavour with its roots in North Africa, Catalonia and the northern Mediterranean.

This bottle is outstanding, like wrapping a brown-purple velvet cloak around you; tobacco, chocolate and cloves pouring over the glass. The nose on this seduces as it is being decanted.

The second are tapas bars. Gordo spent six months in Madrid where he would wander from one to the other as the evening wore on. Each tended to specialise in one ingredient. One might be mushrooms, another, clams. The wine was served in small glass beakers, a bit like school.

All had two things in common; the tapas were fantastic whilst the wine was invariably shocking.

The third kind is a mix of the first two and has grown up pretty recently, mainly trying to follow in Ferran Adrià’s footsteps at the now famous El Bulli, arguably the best restaurant in the world, north of Barcelona. Gordo never managed to get a table and has hated the little Catalonian beer seller ever since.


Manchego Cheese Lollipops CuteManchego cheese lollipops, cute

Adrià’s followers, the new wave guys, cook a ‘molecular’ gastronomy, which wavers between heavenly and nice try señor, now go and rub a bit of garlic and ripe tomatoes on toast please, I’m starving and feel sick. And splash a good bit of olive oil on it while you’re at it.

You can track what’s going on in the Iberian Peninsula by watching the great Spanish chefs here in the UK who keep a close eye on their collegues in Spain. In turn, Gordo has been keeping a close eye on them, as well as the new wave of wine makers from the same region.

A good place to do this is Cambio de Tercio, which opened in 1995 on the Old Brompton in London. In fact, Gordo had an early lunch there one Saturday, a long time ago. A good day as it happens for a couple of other other reasons than just a really great lunch.

Waiting for the car outside, he was treated to the site of one of the local residents, female and stark naked with a figure that causes Italians to go running for marble blocks, sunbathing two floors up on a roof.

The second that afternoon was watching Manchester United play Wimbledon and seeing a very young David Beckham take a swinging right boot to the ball two metres inside his own half and getting the ball right in the net.

Bread, FluffyBread, fluffy

Cambio was opened by Abel Lusa who quickly showed that he could conduct a restaurant masterpiece; the gaff has changed little by little so as not to shock the irregulars like me. There are more tapas on show but it still does suckling pig to die for.

The place is busy, cosy, sexy, silky and oh-so-smooth. The waiters have that trick of making you feel part of the family, and what a well heeled family it is. Lots of old Spanish money, dressed in that effortless manner that southern Europeans manage so well.

Service throughout flows with easy professionalism and the odd spark of electricity.

Prawns, Big'unsPrawns, big'uns

Food is not, by a long way, faultless. The Gambas a la Plancha, with garlic and parsley (£2 each) were magnificently prepared leaving the head and last bit of tail on. This enables my dining companion, the rather hard to please Casey Gillespie, to not get her perfectly manicured pinkies interfered with in any way whilst dealing with them using cutlery. But they needed a little more severity with the seasoning.

The Galician octopus with mashed olive oil mashed potatoes and paprika oil (£12) were, on reflection, beautiful. They took some thinking about but you got there in the end.

Octopuss On Olive Oil Mashed SpudsOctopus on olive oil mashed spuds

The grilled chop of acorn fed Iberico pork, with potato cream, chorizo, figs, vinegar and caramel (£12) sounded bloody fabulous but Gordo was distracted by a pair of very long Argentinean legs opposite and forgot to order it.

That Piggy Again Piggy

Casey’s Hake (£17.50), handled brilliantly was of spiffing good quality, whilst the baby squid was in both hers, and Gordo’s opinion, superfluous to requirements. Casey, a Georgian aristocrat who moved to New York for ten years and then London, is difficult to please. Additionally, she speaks in tongues.

“It's got manoosey on it as well, I mean, get real, manoosey? On hot fish? Getthefuckouttahear!”

“What do you mean, manoosey? What are you talking about? How do you spell it?” asks a baffled Gordo.

“Get the fuck with the program Gordy, the word with too many ‘y’s in it. You havin’ a breakdown?”

Gordo has an epiphany.

“You mean, MAYONNAISE. Or, as on the menu, ali oli fi deva. And, it’s not that hard, its only got one ‘Y’ in it,” mumbles the fat one.


Gordo gets stuck into his Segovia suckling pig with rosemary potatoes in the cooking juices (£23), knowing that Alabama Jill would be repulsed being a pescatarian and won’t try and nick any. She must have eaten a whole lot of catfish and shrimp where she came from.

The pork was fantastic, the potatoes just perfect. Gordo ate it slowly with a side portion of spinach, pine nuts and raisins (£3.50). A truly comforting dish on a damp January day. Perfection.

Puddings weren’t anything to write home about, the almond soup with a spun sugar beehive on top was fine, the other was just plain weird. Others may think these masterpieces, but simply not to Gordo’s taste so he isn’t marking down for them.

On past visits the cheese has delivered. Outstanding and perfect to finish off a great bottle of wine.

Movie Star Of A WineMovie star of a wine

Time Out voted Cambio the best Spanish wine list in London last year. They are good judges; the Spanish wine makers over the past twenty years have been fantastic; Gordo chose an old vine Tempranillo, Leda Vinas Viejas, 2005 (£85). The winemaker in charge here has ignored the D.O. route and has now delivered stunning wine for more than eighteen years. This bottle is outstanding, like wrapping a brown-purple velvet cloak around you; tobacco, chocolate and cloves pouring over the glass. The nose on this seduces as it is being decanted. 

This is a sensibly marked up wine list with a treasure trove of bottles.

All in all, Cambio is difficult to beat as a real family restaurant with class and in its Spanish category, in the top four or five in the UK.

Take someone on a special occasion and have a blow out, or just nip in and try a few tapas. Either way, you will be treated like a long lost pal.

Follow @GordoManchester on Twitter.

Cambio de Tercio, 163 Old Brompton Road, London, SW5 0LJ. 0207 244 8970                 

Rating 16.25/20 

Food: 6.75/10 
Service: 4.5/5
Ambience: 5/5

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJanuary 26th 2012.

Please stop writing in the 3rd person, it's excruciating

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 26th 2012.

Don't read it your that bothered douchebag

GordoJanuary 26th 2012.

Gordo thinks that's a silly rant; it's what Gordo does. Like, irritating people. He is also arguably the most read food critic in the North West. :-) But don't worry Anon1, Gordo loves you .

AnonymousJanuary 27th 2012.

This is Manchester Confidential. Please stop reviewing places that are not either in Manchester or sufficiently close to Manchester that a 2 and a half hour train journey is not required!!! This site is brilliant but reviewing a London restaurant here is utterly pointless

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan Schofield - editorJanuary 30th 2012.

Anon, I'm not going to change the way we review. People interested in food from across the country frequently travel down to London. These reviews might help them make a dining choice. I put one of these reviews up every month or so. I put the odd one up about the Lakes as well and so on. Manchester has a tradition of not being narrowly parochial and I want to live up to that.

paulJanuary 29th 2012.

If we had some nice restaurants up here it would probably help

paulJanuary 29th 2012.

PS. thanks for labeling the photos

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