Dining out in Seville can be a bit hit and miss. Find yourself too close to the tourist spots and more than likely you´ll be faced with underwhelming morsels at over the top prices. As a tourist back in 2008, my first taste of Seville´s much lauded cuisine left me rather non-plussed, so it has been a gradual and pleasant surprise that there is delicious, modern culinary delights available at very economical prices.
Of late, it´s almost impossible to drag me away from my two favourite haunts on Calle Calatrava, Sidonia and Duo Tapas, which are run by the same owners and share many of the same dishes on their menus. I´d always preferred Sidonia, I say always, I only discovered it six months ago, despite living in the Alameda for almost two years. It´s a long and narrow tapas bar, that´s decked out in a brightly lit modern style with various over sized kitchen implements serving as decoration or light fittings. For me Sidonia has it all, a really interesting menu that caters to all tastes, successfully and fearlessly drawing on influences from outside Andalucia, and, they have Sergio. Sergio seems to be the main man on the restaurant floor, and has the perfect mix of genuine charm, utter efficiency and a can-do attitude that makes him worth his weight in gold (particularly in Sevilla where waiting staff often rank off the scale on the grumpometer scale).
Stand out dishes for me are the Gnocchi in a Gorgonzola sauce, the king prawn capirotes (aping the pointy hoods worn by the Nazarenes in the Easter processions) and the Tataki de Atun, with the tuna seared to a rare perfection. I´m not a meat eater, but I´m reliably informed that the meat dishes do not disappoint either. And then there are the desserts, which are all so deliciously tempting, it´s often impossible which one to choose. Recently I´ve been opting for the Copa de Limon, which is taste bud tangling mixture of lemon flavours and textures, but light enough not to require the loosening of belts at the end of the meal. And you won´t have to loosen your wallet too much either. I usually find that I have change from 10 Euros when eating at Sidonia, including drinks, which by anyone´s standards is tremendous value for top notch food.
But last weekend, with a friend staying from London, and having already been to Sidonia for lunch, we found ourselves at Sidonia´s younger sibling, Duo Tapas, just a few doors down the road. The menu at Duo Tapas has a very similar feel to that of Sidonia, but the restaurant itself is much bigger with a busy, buzzing atmosphere. Because of this there´s a tendency for much larger groups of people to dine there and I think that´s why in the past I´d always found it to be a little impersonal, but on this occasion we were served by a really delightful Italian girl, who took great care in advising us on our wine choices and generally made us feel utterly looked after.
So once again folks, I´ve come to the conclusion that the Alameda is in fact the centre of the known universe, or at a universe known by me. I mean, practically on my doorstep, I have two of the most reliably enjoyable and reasonably priced eating establishments in Seville. Life doesn´t get much better.
Sidonia, Calle Calatrava 16, Alameda, Sevilla
Duo Tapas, Calle Calatrava 10. Alameda Sevilla