For lovers of small plates like us, 3-month old Bam at Tras Street looks set to be another new favourite. Opened by Chef Pepe, who used to be chef de cuisine at Santi at MBS, Bam may bill itself as a tapas bar but don't expect ordinary tapas like croquettas or garlic prawns. Instead, they offer exactly what we love - small plates of inventive tapas-inspired dishes, often with other influences thrown in as well.
Portions of each dish are just nice for 2 to share, and if you're like us, you'll probably need about 5 or 6 to be pleasantly full. Remember to save space for dessert though - this is one of the few places (for us) where the desserts really are worth ordering.
The Roasted Eggplant with Lardo and Romesco Sauce started out ok enough - till I got a mouthful of the lardo. The thin sliver of lardo was lightly torched on top of the eggplant, and packed a ton of flavour.
The Grilled Octopus with Gem Lettuce and Lentil Vinaigrette was so good that we promptly ordered another one (we were there with W and M). The octopus was really tender yet meaty, and wonderfully charred and smokey. This dish really brought us all back to Spain.
The Pork Ear with Burrata and Anchovy Vinaigrette was a very interesting dish. I liked the different textures of the creamy burrata and the crunchy, slightly gelatinous pig's ears. I would've liked a bit more burrata though, so I'm not sure if this is on my order-again list.
One of their signature dishes is the Sakura Ebi Omelette with Melon and All-i-oli (Catalan for aioli). I liked the creaminess of the omelette (I hate overcooked omelettes) and the umaminess of the sakura ebi, but I'm not sure that the melon was all that necessary. Next time we'll try the other egg dish on the menu - the Kampong Egg with baby squid and chorizo.
Don't go low/no carb while you're here, because all 3 of their pastas were outstanding. The Foie Gras and Chestnut Ravioli came in a light, delicate broth that was packed with flavour, and the Mushroom Rice with Scallop and Idiazabal Cheese was a risotto lover's dream.
What really shone though, was the Pasta a la Plancha with Prawns and Sake Butter. The tubes of pasta were literally cooked on the plancha (flat-top), giving it a wonderful al dente yet crisp texture. It was served with the most amazing sauce and sake butter that we all but licked off the plate. Awesome.
As far as the meats go, we had the Calamari and Beef Tongue, and the Grilled Quail with Leeks. I enjoyed both dishes, but everyone else wasn't as enamoured as I was. Apparently the Wagyu Onglet is better, so perhaps we'll try that next.
Desserts are definitely worth a try here. The Bailey's sponge with chocolate cremeaux comes with a huge dollop of the lightest, airest Crema Catalan I've ever had, and lightly torched too.
As good as that was, the other two desserts were more standouts. The coconut sorbet with pineapple and tea granita was really light and refreshing, and the lemon zest ice cream with caramelised banana was perfectly balanced - just when the ice cream seemed a bit too tart, the cubes of banana helped to sweeten and mellow it down.
They've only been open for 3 months but already they seem to be doing pretty well. We should probably head there again sooner rather than later, before it starts being on everyone's radar and it gets harder to snag reservations.
Rock. Especially the desserts.
Bam Tapas and Sake Bar
38 Tras Street
Open Mon to Sat: 6 pm - 12 mn