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Bar Pepito (Bar)

Picture of Bar Pepito in Kings Cross, London

3 Varnishers Yard, The Regent Quarter, Kings Cross, London, N1 9FD
Cuisine: Spanish
Tel: 020 7841 7331 | Email to Bar Pepito | Transport: Kings Cross St. Pancras | Write review

Bar Pepito Review

Best for: Tapas, sherry, nights out in King’s Cross;

Great: atmosphere, olives and jamon

In a city that changes as rapidly as London, there was always something depressingly constant about King’s Cross. Looking out from the station towards the dilapidated snooker hall, empty takeaways and amusement arcades was like peeling back to an unmourned London of the recent past – the last and worst of the 1980s decaying slowly before your eyes. It was an apposite playground for the seamy sorts that seem to hang around stations the world over, but it wasn’t the sort of place you’d want to spend an evening.

Over the past five years, though, King’s Cross has changed. The old landmarks remain, all peeling paint and grubby neon signs hinting violence, but a smart, confident and attractive King’s Cross has sprung up alongside it, blooming in the shadow of the new St Pancras Station.

Lively and cosmopolitan, Bar Pepito and its neighbouring bar Camino, epitomise this brave new King’s Cross, and while the tiny Pepito might not shout as loudly as its brash, bold and – by all accounts - brilliant bigger brother, it’s just as worthy of your ear.

Pepito is an immaculately-styled Spanish bodega, attracting a more varied crowd than the monochrome set of twenty-to-thirty-somethings who spill out of Camino and into the courtyard that the two bars share. The room itself is about the size of your living room, and filled with six or seven tables, a number of high stools and slightly less elbow room than is strictly necessary. The décor is simple and functional: tiled walls with a few sepia photos and posters from the old country, and a small bar at one end of the room, above which hang two, maybe three hams. It feels authentic, welcoming and comfortable in its own skin.

Oh – and one more thing: the back wall is filled from bottom to top with a bewildering array of sherries. And it’s the sherry that makes Pepito special.

I must confess my ignorance. I’d always thought of sherry as a grandma’s tipple, a sickly-sweet succour for ageing joints. The only people I knew who drank it were my grandma’s next door neighbour, Winnie (who got through a bottle of Croft’s a day), and – strangely - my friend, Denis (who once got through a bottle before lunch). Turns out there’s quite a bit more to it than I thought: to the Andalusians who make it – and the proprietors of Pepito - sherry’s serious stuff.

Our waitress proffers a potted history of the drink, explaining the narrow geographical boundaries of the sherry-making region, the different fortification processes involved in the drink’s production, and the flavours to expect in each different variety. She’s just back from a tasting trip to Andalusia, and her enthusiasm and passion for her work is palpable. It’s quite an education.

The scholarly attitude is tempered a little as the sherry starts to take hold, but the fact remains, you go to Pepito to learn as well as indulge. Guests are encouraged to taste complementary sherries in ‘flights’ of three and judge the difference for themselves, while staff are always on hand to recommend a tapas dish to go with your tipple of choice. For those of us not so well versed in the ways of sherry, this is welcome; to be left flailing around such an unfamiliar menu would be a waste.

The sherries, and the simple, reasonably priced tapas dishes that partner them, are an absolute delight. The finos are dry – almost savoury – and matched up with meaty olives marinated in rosemary and preserved lemons that have to be tasted to be believed; the olorosos (my favourite, for what it’s worth – you’d have to go a long way to beat the Matusalem Gonzalez Byas we tried) taste of oak and almonds, balanced by generous portions of salty Iberico and chorizo that all but melt away as soon as they’re in the mouth. We round off the evening with a sweet and fruity Pedro Ximinez and a pair of beautiful chocolate-coated figs, a perfect end to an evening that’s been right on the money, from start to finish.

Pepito isn’t flash. It doesn’t need a maverick in the kitchen, or anything so vulgar as a novel concept. It’s all about simple food and drink of fantastic provenance – the kind of thing they’ve been doing in Spain since time immemorial. It’s not rocket science, but it works an absolute treat. The present – and future – of King’s Cross is in very safe hands.
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Customer Reviews for Bar Pepito

Average (based on 1 votes): 1 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of Bar Pepito.

“great tapas, fantastic sheery and a wonderful atmosphere. are all here!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
semilla davies, highgate (8 years 21 days ago)

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Additional Information

  • Cuisine Type: Spanish
  • Group: Camino

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