He already runs Bar Esteban in Crouch End and Escocesa in Stoke Newington, and now Stephen Lironi has opened his third spot, Maresco in Soho. It’s a tapas bar, so there’s mainly counter seating (plus a handful of tables for bigger groups downstairs), with one section running down the length of the open kitchen, and the other looking out the large windows onto the street.
Named after the Spanish words for sea (‘mar’) and Scotland (‘esco’, short for ‘Escocia’), the restaurant was inspired by Lironi’s childhood visits to Spain and a Guardian article that detailed how the best Scottish seafood was exported to Spain. Stephen, Head Chef Pablo Rodriguez and General Manager Naroa Ortega (who are also partners in the other two sites), are showcasing that Scottish seafood through a Spanish lens, pairing it with some of the best Spanish ingredients. And it’s fresher than fresh here – you can see the chefs pick up the fish from the ice tray at the far end of the kitchen to cook it to order.
The specials section of the menu features the best of the deliveries from Scotland, and on our visit included fillets of Gigha halibut with black rice, flecked with surprise cuttlefish and mussels that you can’t even see until you get your fork into the jet-black pan. The txistorra del mar is another speciality of the restaurant and certainly not something you see on most tapas menus – it’s a sausage made with mackerel and monkfish (traditionally it would be done with meat) with plenty of punch from smoked paprika.
There’s a solid selection of tapas classics at Maresco for the non-fish-eating folk out there, including croquetas menorquinas rich with sobresada; chunky, rugged patatas bravas dotted with alioli; and sweet, soft charred leeks with romesco sauce. The presa iberica, served medium rare with wild mushrooms and vegetable escalivada is a great meaty option, adding some earthiness into the mix.
Unsurprisingly, the seafood is where Maresco shines brightest but there’s enough on the menu – and on the drinks list, which features Spanish wines, G&Ts, sherries and cocktails – to keep you interested and well fed.
45 Berwick Street, London, W1F 8SF