Parkway Restaurant, Ludlow
Em Marshall-Luck samples a Taste of
Barcelona in Ludlow
Parkway is set down a little passageway off Ludlow’s architecturally impressive Corve street, with its gathering of bakeries, restaurants and home shops; the passageway leads to a conglomeration of hair dressers, toys shops, and this family-friendly tapas restaurant, with wooden tables and comfortable-looking padded wicker chairs outside under the awnings – even on this freezing cold and rainy evening.
One walks into a small room, with just five tables, and an impressive-looking bar stacked with bottles, glasses gleaming behind it, and a large stack of teapots beside. A tea box displays various types of tea; clearly (and pleasingly) tea is taken as seriously here as alcoholic beverages. The bar has white boarded panels and large slabs of wood atop, and dominates the room; the other predominant feature of which are the colourful walls – some a metallic grey, some a muddy purple, and the back wall glittering black with two montages of photographs of images from Barcelona and from Ludlow, including images of every member of staff, as well as inspirational mothers and mothers-in-law. Two large black beams cross on the ceiling, and tables are bare wood with smart black runners; chairs are the same-coloured wood and with purple padded seats matching the wall. A wooden laminate floor is slightly scuffed and scratched, but this adds to the rather rustic air. Warmth is provided by tealights flickering in silver bowls on the tables, and an electric fire in a traditional-style stove – although we rather wished that it had been a real fire blazing in said stove. Hanging in the window are large white hearts fashioned of metal-worked flowers. One is warmly greeted by owner Julie on entering, and made to feel welcome.
The two chefs are Spanish, and it is their family recipes that are presented at this restaurant. They import most of the traditional ingredients from Spain, while meat and all other ingredients come from local sources; meat coming from the local butchers in Ludlow, and wines from the local wine merchant. The menus, printed on A4 laminated sheets and with specials and tapas chalked up on boards, feature a large number of tapas items, as well as a small number of mains, such as steak, all at very reasonable prices. The wine list is short: just a few reds, whites, sparklings and roses. Interestingly, all were available at the same (very good) price per bottle or glass, and helpful descriptions assisted choice.
I chose the Artesa organic Rioja, 2015, from a family-owned estate. A deep ruby colour, almost verging on black, it had a good nose of plump, ripe fruit and vanilla. The taste was rich and deep – a burst of sharper berry fruits such as blackcurrants first, followed by the sweeter tones of plums, blackberries and cherries and more woody hints of oak, peat, and some smoke. Altogether, this was a good wine, especially for the hearty fare that was to come.
Along with the wine was brought a dish of extremely dangerously moreish baked corn – the entire bowl of which Tristan demolished with terrifying rapidity and almost single-handed, snaffled alongside several mango juices that he seemed to find more than acceptable.
We started with a selection of tapas. The albondigas were unusually good – meaty, with a judicious flavouring of herbs, and beautifully moist within the large balls; they were served in a delicious sweet tomato sauce. Tortilla and patatas aioli were also excellent – the tortilla perfectly flavoursome and pleasantly salty and the patatas aioli very crunchy on the outside, well-cooked on the inside, and smothered in exquisitely garlicy mayonnaise. The chorizo was also very good indeed: it had a real kick to the spiciness, and a substantially meaty texture and flavour. It was tempered well by the bread, which, although rather more ordinary, was nevertheless light and had a pleasantly yeasty flavour – a springy crumb was complemented by a gently resistant crust. Some butter was thoughtfully brought for Tristan, although I personally would have preferred extra virgin olive oil on the table.
For our main course we chose the meat paella – all of it absolutely freshly cooked, thus entailing a not-unwelcome 25-minute wait from the time of ordering. It came, piping hot in an iron pan; a medley of chorizo, chicken, sausage, peppers, rice and peas. The rice itself seemed to me more a long-grained or basmati, rather than paella, rice and it was slightly, but not unpleasantly, al dente. The meats were well-cooked and the peas lent a welcome sense of sweetness. My husband found it a little on the greasy side, and one could not deny that it was, indeed, a rather greasy dish, but I found this slight greasiness distinctly moreish, and found myself enjoying it more and more as I went on, until at the end I simply couldn’t leave the dish alone, scraping at the moist and flavoursome rice at the bottom of the pan.
For dessert we were recommended to try the traditional almond cake – a soft, squidgy and delicately flavoured cake with honeyed syrup, and accompanied by the most delicious Italian amaretto ice-cream. Tristan had an indulgent plate of mini donuts with chocolate sauce and a generous helping of strawberries.
Overall, it was an excellent meal, in relaxed and friendly surroundings – with very good, and authentically Spanish, food. We found it a shame that traditional Spanish music didn’t accompany the meal, which we would have far preferred to the popular music that (as ever) we found too intrusive. Julie was very good and patient with an at-times slightly over-exuberant Tristan, even kneeling down to help him with his jigsaws, and bringing him colouring-in sheets. This establishment is very highly recommended for a truly excellent meal at far, far lower than prices than one usually finds in gourmet Ludlow.
Em Marshall-Luck is QR’s Food and Wine Critic