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The satisfying symbiosis of scoffing seafood tapas while overlooking the ocean isn’t lost on Abi Manning, who turns up authentic find Escala in the seaside town of Clevedon

What’s the draw?

You don’t need to hit the city for quality tapas when this find in the coastal surroundings of Clevedon Beach delivers an authentic experience by the bucketload.

Pick from a trio of perches: a sunny terrace delivering the full salty-sea-air experience, a bright conservatory with traditional Spanish-tile floor, or a restaurant enhanced by shelves stacked with authentic Spanish produce.

Small plates are served as and when they’re ready, creating a pleasingly laid-back vibe in keeping with the pace of seaside life.

Who’s cooking?

Richard Range, formerly of Bristol’s Pasture, heads up the Escala kitchen. The Zimbabwean-born chef excels in this intimate setting, nurturing young chefs and instilling his passion for dishes crafted from quality produce.

Escala small plates

What to order?

The menu gets switched up a few times each week, so there’s always something new to try at Escala. Seasonality and quality are paramount – whether in speciality ingredients imported from Spain (including an extensive selection of wines) or fish landed on South West shores.

In this setting it would be criminal not to sample at least a few of the seafood plates, so we dived into an order of vieras (scallops) fresh that morning from Brixham via Bristol’s Conscious Food. The plump shellfish delivered flavour in spades when paired with a sprinkle of crunchy, salty bacon, the sweetness of maple and sriracha’s fire. Next came a caballa (mackerel) dish – a vision in green with its plate-mates of artichoke and courgette, which were dressed with a red pepper and chorizo relish.

Who can think of tapas without lusting after the pleasing crunch and smooth interior of Spanish croquettes? Escala’s trio featured one made from short rib and served with smoked paprika aioli, another with cod and lime mayo served with bravas sauce and, the pick of the crop, a croquette showcasing the delicate micro-seasonal notes of wild garlic.

We’re still thinking about the musio de pollo: chicken thigh with sticky sherry glaze, romesco sauce, pickled cabbage and fennel, and hazelnuts. The fabulous dish showcased Richard’s fermentation fixation and provided a tutorial in how to build texture and contrast. Its sweet glaze juxtaposed beautifully with the sour krauts while the tender meat was counterbalanced by the crunch of whole nuts.

A cupula chocolate-dome pudding made for a theatrical finale. Salted caramel sauce was drizzled over a metallic-looking orb which melted to reveal the chocolate soil, marshmallow and honeycomb within.

Need to know

Escala’s entrepreneurial owners Dom and Alex Lamy have two other establishments in the town (both on Hill Road) which are just as good. Bistro-style bar and restaurant Puro deals in modern British cooking, while Vintage and Vine is a smart bottleshop and bar.

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