I've eaten at Casa Don Carlos quite a few times now. I've enjoyed the warm welcome from the staff, the buzz, the cheek to jowl seating. It feels like you are on holiday here. The variety of diners is telling too. Big groups, teens nipping in for a stomach-lining bite on their way to the clubs, couples—young and old—after a lingering meal, every man and their dog. Well, maybe not the dog. Mr Graphic Foodie used to come here on dates when he was a spotty teen with a swagger. Maybe that's why he has a soft spot for it. I don't know. I'd rather not think about it further!
All I can comment on is the food. From all my visits it has been consistent. Consistently mediocre. I mean, by nature tapas is delicious. Little tastes here and there. The medium is great. But to feed the troop of people that come through the doors of this place efficiently, a lot of the food needs to be prepared in advance. And quite a lot feels like its reheated to order.
The briny pitted olives straight of of the jar and atrocious French stick garlic bread were the lowest points. Bad bread, particularly when it's off-culture is a sin. The paella was quite stodgy with little of the tasty morsels you'd hope for. Patatas Bravas and the tortilla were passable but unremarkable. The sizzling prawns in garlic oil were fine but seemed to be the chewy frozen variety and the calimari were tyre-like. However, the fried, battered aubergine slices covered in sticky honey were an unexpected win and the chorizo flambéed in rum at the table is always an unashamed crowd pleaser. Padron peppers are crack-addiction gorgeous everywhere and anywhere.
I think ordering from the specials may be the way to go as you can safely bet that these will be made to order rather than the bulk potato tortilla, paella, patatas bravas et al that they must stockpile for the night. Had we not been with a large group with a pre-ordered set meal then I would have gone for the oxtail casserole, egg, garlic shoots (LOVE garlic shoots) and prawn tortilla, fish in tomatoes and peppers and the rabbit in garlic oil and chilli.
Casa Don Carlos