Tucked in a side street not far from the bustling South Bank, Mar I Terra is worth a visit simply for the peace and quiet. A sense of serenity pervades the whole restaurant – which isn't hard given it is the size of my front room.
We were greeted on entry by some very authentic looking nuns, and things just got quainter. You could reach out and touch just about every other table in the place, the waiter was moustached and paunchy, the food was delivered via a dumb waiter that must have been operated by hand, and the dishes were as rustic as any I have eaten in London.
And they were glorious too. It is hard to amaze a diner with the basic Patatas Bravas, but the garish orange of the sauce and crispness of the potatoes drew me in, and gave me a benchmark against which all potato/tomato based dishes will now be judged. Portions were more than ample, but as is always the case with tapas, you keep eating until the plates are torn from your lifeless, exhausted hands.
The octopus was another highlight, and the rest of the food passed in mist of war as my companions fought over the last of it. The blurriness perhaps helped by the excellent wine selection, which kept us entertained thoughout the meal.
Eating at Mar I Terra is a jarringly intimate experience, but isn't that a refreshing change for London? I heartilty recommend it.