Restaurant Review: The Hispanist

One of the last places I ate out before the pandemic began was the Hispanist in Hull city centre's Paragon Arcade, a small but perfectly formed restaurant with a nice view over the renovated arcade.

In early 2020 me and my dining companions tucked into a casual post-work dinner of tacos and croquettes, having a couple of cocktails too, little did we know what was around the corner.

Now the restaurant is back fully open, I couldn't wait to go back and try some more food, taking my boyfriend for lunch last weekend. The menu has a lot of new and improved dishes since my last visit, too.

Me excited about tapas!

Taking refuge from an unseasonably cold and rainy May day, we slipped upstairs into a cosy table for two. The decor of the restaurant is quite hip and modern but welcoming too - making the most of the original features of the building, with Spanish and South American inspired artwork. 

We were given a drinks menu to look at first, and slightly worse for wear from the night before we gave the alcohol a miss, but the menu has a wide selection of wines like Malbec and Rioja, as well as cocktails, sangria, tequila and mezcal, as well as beers and soft drinks. They also have some interesting looking coffees!

After ordering our drinks we were handed the food menu, which has a wide selection of tapas dishes, from appetisers like olives and almonds, a selection of spanish cheeses and cured meats, and more traditional dishes like ham croquettes and patatas bravas. 

Goats cheese croquettes, fried squid and bruschetta

They also have a selection of tasty looking tacos, as well as some pretty special desserts.

My boyfriend entrusted the ordering to me, so I picked out a selection of six tapas dishes and we settled on having a dessert, too.

Like most tapas restaurants, the dishes come as they are ready, they are small plates perfect for sharing. 

First came the goats cheese croquettes, which were absolutely delicious and melt in the mouth. Seriously - these bad boys are like crack! Definitely recommended. We also had fried baby squid, in a light seasoned batter, not greasy like a lot of calamari, and a portion of a Spanish inspired Bruschetta, which were both really good.

Next arrived a creamy, smoky patatas bravas, which was also really delicious, salted cod fritters, which were really tasty, and piquillo peppers stuffed with goats cheese, which were lightly battered and drizzled in honey, which were also just so nice.

Sangria trifle

You can tell the food is made from really fresh ingredients and that the chefs really care about the preparation of the dishes, though they are small in portion size they are full of flavour and bring something really different to your palette.  

Six dishes was a nice amount, but we still had some room for dessert. My boyfriend ordered a trifle he had longingly spotted across the room earlier and was sold by it, featuring sangria jelly and a blackberry sponge, as well as custard and almonds which he said was really nice. He definitely finished it pretty quickly! 

I went for the chocolate slice - dark chocolate topping, with miso caramel filling and a biscuit base, with malted cream and a cocao nib sugar slab. It was so nice but honestly - I could have eaten two! 

Our meal came to just under £50 for six tapas dishes, two desserts and two soft drinks, so it's not the cheapest place for lunch, but the food is absolutely worth the price tag.

Chocolate dessert

The service was reasonably smooth, especially given how long the restaurant has been closed, and the staff were nice and friendly. 

So much of Hull's food cultural persona seems to be around fast, greasy, cheap food - but in reality Hull's food scene is made up of so many independent ventures really bringing some fresh, interesting and diverse dishes to the table.

I would definitely recommend The Hispanist if you are a fan of Spanish food, tapas, and are in search of some fresh food with quality ingredients. It's a great place for a date night, a special occasion, or maybe just a casual catch up with friends one afternoon with some tequila on the side... Cheers! 

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