Spain Away From Spain

Brighton has such a big food culture that after living in the seaside city for three years, I have become a typical Brightonian always on the look out for new restaurants to try. The multicultural aspect of the city is reflected in the variety of Mediterranean restaurants from Italian, Greek and Spanish. As a French native from Lyon, I particularly enjoy the cultural aspect of food. I was not disappointed when I went for a dinner to Olé Olé on a Thursday night where I experienced an immersion into the Spanish culture.

Located in the South Laines, tucked away in a little street, you might miss it if you don’t know your way around the Laines. Olé Olé made its reputation upon this authentic flamenco show, which brings many enthusiasts to the restaurant. The crowd is a mix of Spanish people, locals and mostly group of friends coming for the fantastic flamenco show, which runs from Thursday night to Saturday night. It is best to book a table, as it is often full on those nights. The atmosphere is intimate but quite lively due to the warm and festive ambience. The decoration could be described as rustic and simple but it is truly the food and performance that take centre stage.

The menu is simple and includes the traditional tapas from a plate of chorizo to patatas bravas as well as the regular selection of paellas. As an appetizer, I would personally recommend the fried goat cheese croquetas with honey and sesame that you can easily share. Then, I tried the flavourful and perfectly cooked chicken paella, which I would strongly suggest as well. The icing on the cake was the heavenly crème brûlée, which was probably the best I have ever eaten. In order to experience both the Spanish flavours and dance, make sure to come before 9pm, which is around the time the performance starts.

The night I went to watch the show, two musicians accompanied the performance of one dancer. The flamenco performer was a man, which is not usually common. It was very interesting to see a male dancer perform the flamenco. It was simultaneously elegant and masculine and it seemed like a fast and challenging performance. Customarily, flamenco shows can be quite theatrical with colourful costumes. However, it was in the simplicity of the setting that the true Spanish authenticity shone. The mood was festive as the audience was cheering and moving along to the music. During the performance, I got swept away and transported to Spain and I even forgot that I was in England.

I had an amazing time and I cannot recommend enough this wonderful little restaurant to discover the authentic Spanish culture without having to travel to Spain.