Jade Wright finds some vegetarian friendly tapas at Kuki’s in West Kirby
COULD she just have some wafer-thin ham?” In one line, Nana in The Royle Family summed up so many people’s attitude to vegetarian food.
As I perched on a stool in a beautiful tapas bar in Madrid, I remembered that immortal utterance to Anthony's new girlfriend, and lamented the fact that every dish I ordered arrived with an unannounced topping of thinly sliced Serrano ham.
There was no arguing with its quality – it was excellent ham, as the man behind the counter explained. I agreed, but I’d said I was vegetarian, and asked (in my best Spanish) for no meat, so really I’d rather have a new dish with no ham.
But, just like Nana, he explained: “This isn’t meat, it’s ham. Everybody eats ham.” I’d met my match and left without eating. It was the only holiday I’ve been on in recent memory where I actually lost weight.
Back home, I decided to see how Wirral’s tapas offering compared with the beautiful bars of Santa Ana and the Grand Via.
On a recommendation, my friend and fellow vegetarian Ceri and I booked a table at Kuki’s in West Kirby. It’s a specialist tapas and Mediterranean restaurant, tucked away on Banks Road.
It was a drizzly Thursday evening and there were only a few people in, so we had our pick of tables. The friendly waitress suggested a good spot and we settled down to peruse the extensive menu.
There was plenty to choose from, with dozens of dishes on offer, and lots of them vegetarian. Tapas is not traditionally a starter. If you start eating tapas, you finish eating tapas, and you don't stop until you're full – or in our case very full.
As often happens with tapas, we got over-excited and as a result vastly over-ordered, choosing tortilla Espanola (£4.95), champinones al ajillo (£4.95), ratatouille (£4.95), queso Manchego (£4.95) and a special from the chalkboard of Wirral asparagus (£4.95).
Our last two orders were pure greed – nachos (£5.95) and patatas fritas (£2.95) – and thankfully the lovely waitress suggested that we might be a bit full if we ordered any more after that.
We ordered a of glass of house red (£3.95) and a rose (£3.95) to wash it all down, along with a large bottle of sparkling water.
As the plates arrived and the table filled up it was hard to know where to start.
I began with the garlic mushrooms. The portion was on the large side – it would have served for a starter more than a tapas dish. The flavours worked well together, robustly garlicky with plenty of onion, paprika, white wine and extra virgin olive oil.