REVIEW: Tapas Revolution at Meadowhall, Sheffield

I was invited to Tapas Revolution’s second birthday celebrations at Meadowhall on Friday, and it got me thinking that I never really hear about vegan tapas. I super like having lots of different dishes to pick at so a vegan tapas restaurant would be an absolute dream! I really enjoyed the tapas-style of 1990 Vegan Living, a Vietnamese restaurant in Berlin. I guess Asian foods are generally more vegan friendly, and it’s easier to veganise traditional Asian dishes… whereas with cultures like France and Spain, their meals can be quite meat and dairy dependent. I’m sure it’s totally possible to recreate traditional Spanish food in a plant-based style, after all… Spanish vegans exist! Tapas Revolution is, of course, not a vegan place. However, it is possible to eat vegan at Tapas Revolution!

There were quite a few people in attendance, but the staff were really friendly and attentive despite being so busy on Tapas Revolution Sheffield’s second birthday! We even met Omar Allibhoy, chef and founder of the Tapas Revolution chain. He has restaurants in London, Kent, Birmingham, Newcastle, and Bath, as well as the Sheffield branch in Meadowhall, of course. Obviously, Spain and Spanish culture is a huge drive behind Tapas Revolution, Omar being from Madrid, and this theme really carries well throughout the restaurant and the food. I really like that the dish titles are written in Spanish as it adds another authentic touch, and it’s always nice to learn new words. The décor of the restaurant is super Spanish, too, and I absolutely love when a restaurant has character and style like this. Unfortunately… this décor does include the legs of animals, and sausages dangling from the bar. Not a nice sight for us herbivores!

Sangria was on tap (metaphorically, not literally) at this event which was pretty nice and I definitely took advantage of this. I tried the sparkling tropical sangria which was fizzy and had flavours like pineapple and watermelon which I really enjoyed, before moving onto classic Sangria for the rest of the evening. In hindsight, I’m not sure whether it was actually vegan and this was certainly an oversight on my part. Sangria is a kind of cocktail made using red wine, lemonade, and fruit – so I guess it depends on whether the wine used was vegan. And it probably wasn’t! Live and learn. It would be super easy to make your own vegan sangria at home, you’d just need to find a vegan friendly wine to use! I was really pleased to see that Tapas Revolution had paper straws, too. Not only are they more environmentally friendly than plastic straws, but they are also highly instagrammable too. Peep that gold striping! 

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Other people were served chorizo as nibbles, so they brought out olives for me instead. I’m super happy with olives to pick at whilst waiting for my food because, well, olives are delicious. We also had the Pan con tomate, toasted bread with garlic, tomato, and olive oil. As simple as this sounds, it was really nice and something I would definitely order again and I will also be attempting to recreate this at home. Omar told me that this is a classic breakfast dish in Spain, so it will now be a new feature on my breakfast table!

I was also served the Ensalada de tomate con queso de cabra alongside this – with the queso de cabra (goat’s cheese) removed, obviously. This was a tasty but pretty underwhelming dish since the main part was simply removed… it would be nice to see the cheese be replaced with something vegan. Not necessarily vegan cheese, but perhaps tofu or a more substantial vegetable than tomatoes and red onion. I certainly wouldn’t be happy paying £4.95 to receive this dish. The veggie tapas dishes range from £4.25 to £6.25, so it’s not too expensive, but it’s certainly not cheap… especially since it is recommended to have 3 or 4 dishes per person!

One of the only 2 dishes on the menu that is actually vegan without making any adjustments is the Pisto, a stew made with aubergines, courgettes, peppers, tomatoes and onions. For those familiar with the French dish of Ratatouille, it’s basically a Spanish version of that. I really enjoyed this stew and it’s something I would choose to eat on a normal day. I would have liked something carby to go with it, though, like pasta or cous cous, although I suppose that starts to move away from the concept of tapas.

The other already-vegan dish on the menu is Pimientes de Padron, which is fried green sweet peppers with sea salt. I really didn’t enjoy this… it was bitter, and just… kind of boring. It’s also £4.95! Pricey peppers! That’s it for vegan dishes on the menu… otherwise, you have to start making amendments to vegetarian dishes. There’s no vegan labelling on the menu, only vegetarian, so if you didn’t already know, you would have to ask what is suitable for vegans. The staff were well informed and happy to explain this to you, but I generally prefer not to have to make a song and dance about being vegan. Well, sometimes. It’s nice when you’re able to just plainly see what is suitable, and make your order no questions asked.

A classic Spanish tapas dish is, of course, Patatas Bravas which I absolutely adore.  In order to veganise this, you have to ask for no alioli. It’s a shame there’s no option for vegan alioli, because its main ingredients are garlic and olive oil. It’s possible to make alioli without using egg and the dish was lacking something without a creamier sauce to balance out the spicy tomato sauce – which was really tasty by the way, and I did find myself wanting for more of it.

A close contender for my favourite dish of the evening was the Huevos con champinones y trufa, which unfortunately is not a vegan dish and needs the egg removing in order to make it so. This was a super tasty and flavoursome dish that I really enjoyed, and I’d definitely eat this in future. Mushrooms can often be a boring and unimaginative vegan option, but this was anything but. It really is delicious. Again, I would have liked some carbs thrown into the mix. This would be really nice on some toast!

I’m not a fan of Tapas Revolution Sheffield’s location in the Meadowhall Oasis dining quarter because it doesn’t have any windows or anything due to it being in the middle of a shopping centre, so it lacks that natural lighting and atmosphere. It’s also not in a shop of its own, but central in the upstairs of the Oasis, so you lack privacy too. There are always people walking past and having a nosy at your dinner! And, it does of course affect noise levels which is something that can really bother me when dining out. Friday was also one of the lovely hot sunny days that we’ve been blessed with recently, so it seemed a shame to be cooped up indoors. A beautiful outdoor dining terrace would really suit a restaurant like Tapas Revolution! Although, I am aware that England only has about 5 days a year warm enough to be outside. We love an outdoor heater!

Some great news is that the dessert option of sugar and cinnamon churros is vegan – so long as you don’t have the chocolate dipping sauce. They offered me a strawberry sauce as an alternative, which was nice… but chocolate would have been better, and more fitting. It would be super easy to replace their current dipping chocolate with one that doesn’t contain milk! They also had a toffee sauce, and I would love to have a vegan version of this to try too as that would be perfect with churros. A nice thing about Tapas Revolution in Meadowhall is that they have a cute little separate churros “cart”, which really brings about those street food vibes and gives the restaurant that little something that’s quirky and unusual – and it means passerbys can get in on the churro situation too, and not just the diners.

The staff were all super lovely, and they really did understand and respect what veganism is. They even spoke to me about the honey in one of their dishes – which a lot of restaurants don’t factor in! I also heard Omar tell a vegetarian about the cheese in a particular dish being vegetarian-friendly as it doesn’t contain rennet – which can be another misunderstanding sometimes. Despite the menu not being particularly vegan friendly, the staff certainly were and that put me at ease in a restaurant I’m not used to! 

All in all, I would say that Tapas Revolution is not a great restaurant for vegan dining, but they are happy and able to accommodate if needs be. It would be good to see vegan labelling in future, and a couple more readily vegan dishes on the menu too!

If you’d like to give it a try, then Tapas Revolution Sheffield is offering 3 for 2 tapas all day every day from Monday the 23rd of April to Sunday the 29th of April. I recommend the Pisto, Patatas Bravas (minus the alioli), and the Champinones (minus the egg). Deffo get some olives and Pan con tomate, too!

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