Dinner at Bibo Shoreditch
First things first – my paella credentials.
Admittedly, I’m more of a risotto person. My paella journey only started 10 years ago, when my now husband took a year-long sabbatical from his job and decided to move to Valencia (as I was moving from Italy to London). We had briefly met a few weeks before his moving date and planned to see each other – be it in London or Valencia.
For the following six months, I travelled between London and Valencia. Whenever I was there, we met every Friday for lunch and ate the traditional paella Valenciana in a place in the old part of town called La Riuá.
When his sabbatical ended and he moved to London with me, I missed the paella so much that I bought a paella (the pan, that it) as a gift for my family (I really cannot cook) in the hope that they would master the art.
Here’s one of my brother’s attempt:
When I saw an article in Eater about this new restaurant BiBo opening in Shoreditch, I really couldn’t resist.
📍BIBO Shoreditch 45 Curtain Rd, London EC2A 3PT
I must say I am not a big fan of hotel restaurants, which always seem to be screaming ‘We only sell dishes that a tired person with plenty of money will order when they check into a hotel!’
But I made an exception when I saw pictures of the paella, which I hadn’t eaten for two years—at least!
The head chef at BiBo Shoreditch, Dani García, is a Spanish chef from Malaga. He was awarded three Michelin stars for his restaurant in Marbella but closed it in 2019, declaring himself ‘fed up with haute cuisine’. The BiBo brand has a more down-to-earth brasserie vibe and counts Shoreditch as its fifth and latest addition. BiBo Shoreditch opened in August in the lower ground floor of the Mondrian Hotel.
Here’s the full à la carte menu.
It offers a lovely selection of tapas-style options as well as meat and seafood mains but I would avoid taking a vegetarian or vegan person here - they might get stuck with potatoes and bread!
Sally and I were planning to go for the padrón peppers and pan con tomate, but the waitress said, ‘You must have the Oxtail Brioche – it’s what our chef is famous for!’
And so we did.
Although I’m not sure it went well with our paella, it was definitely worth it. It melted in my mouth. And the mushroom sauce – yum!
The by-the-glass wine menu is very interesting and local.
I chose a Crianza from Rioja to go with the Oxtail Brioche. It was pleasant, nothing fancy. Young Spanish wines (e.g. Crianzas) are normally great pairings with paella valenciana or other meat paellas (see the Roasted Chicken Paella in the menu), but it would have been too overpowering for our Lobster Paella.
The first white wine I chose was a Galician (north-west of Spain) wine made with a grape variety called Godello, originally from the town of Godella in Valencia. Jancis Robinson has praised this grape many times and included it in her list of underappreciated varieties.
This delightful glass was a Maxura Godello 2019. Its colour was a bright straw yellow, and its nose was intense and varietal. It made me think of mature white fruit with a noticeable mineral content and lingered on my palate with a fresh but balanced taste and silky texture.
Here’s the full wine list.
The Whole Lobster Paella
With an open-plan kitchen, the other chef let us take a look at how they make their paella. As it’s made from scratch, it takes 30 minutes.
The pictures of this paella are mouth-watering, but I found it delicious because it was simple and delicate. No frills, just fresh, good quality ingredients and skilful cooking.
Surprise, surprise – another Godello from Galicia, the Guimaro 2020. Another refreshing choice. The signature fresh pineapple flavour of a Godello was certainly present, along with lemon and lime which gave its complexity. The fresh acids made for a mouth-watering finish that sustained the flavours beautifully.
And then, I admittedly chose the wrong wine, going for a Provence rosé. I got excited by the truly European mix of Grenache, Cinsault and Vermentino grapes. The name itself should have put me off – Whispering Angel (!!!)
There’s nothing unusual about a Provence rosé with no depth, but this one was even light on the unmistakable fruitiness a Provence rosé is known for. In both aroma and flavour, it was indeed whispering. Beyond its feebleness, it didn’t pair as well with the paella as the Godellos did.
The Whole-Lobster Paella was meant for three people, but I think the two of us managed quite well.
A good quality lobster for £76 per person is quite a fair price for Shoreditch, if you ask me. There’s no question that it satisfied my craving for paella, and Sally and I enjoyed the service and the ambiance very much.
I might even have to start giving hotel restaurants another look.
Interesting paella links:
Guillermo Navarro, a paell-activist, created a wiki-style page (and app!) for all things paella (link) and he has made it his mission to show what a real paella should be
Did you miss Jamie Oliver throwing chorizo (FFS Jamie!) in his paella recipe, thus causing a media sh*t-storm? (link)
Publication Weird Spain delves into the real ingredients of authentic paella (rats and eels, apparently…)