Restaurant review - South 16, Buxton

Tapas at South 16, Buxton

Tapas at South 16, Buxton - Credit: Archant

Our reviewer discovers an authentic taste of tapas in Buxton.

South 16, Buxton

South 16, Buxton - Credit: Archant

Buxton might seem an unlikely place to find authentic Spanish tapas, but at South 16 on Market Street diners can discover classic dishes from around the world with a vibrant atmosphere to match.

Boasting a cosy and welcoming ambience reminiscent of a traditional tapas bar, South 16 is run by Nuno Ferreira and Karen Woods. Since taking on the lease last August, the couple has brought a unique charm to the place: Portuguese Nuno is a former photojournalist, gig photographer and wine adviser at Waitrose; Karen is a talented local artist, whose work adorns the restaurant’s walls and windows, which were painted with a beautiful snow scene on the frosty evening of our visit.

Inside, the venue lends itself perfectly to socialising and relaxing. There’s a bar area with cosy sofas, artwork, bookcases and a log burner and a rustic restaurant with a wooden floor and tables and soft lighting. An informal yet knowledgeable style of service enhances the convivial atmosphere and there’s a great selection of real ales and craft lagers – we can recommend the Revisionist.

Head chef Leighton Curtis spent time honing his skills in Spain and Nuno formerly lived in Mexico, so when the restaurant underwent a menu overhaul in February it seemed apt that the brand new tapas-style offering should showcase dishes from countries like Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Cuba. There are starters such as aioli and vegetable sticks, pan de ajo con queso (cheesy garlic bread) and pico del gallo (Mexican salsa), and there are over 24 main course ‘plates’ priced from £4.75 to £6.95, or £24.95 for the sharing platter. Under each dish is a description of its ingredients and history – a thoughtful touch which revealed some interesting facts.

South 16, Buxton

South 16, Buxton - Credit: Archant

Our choices ranged from well-known, but no less delicious, items such as patatas bravas (potato cubes in a spicy tomato sauce), freshly-made nachos and battered salt and pepper squid rings, to the more exotic cochinita pibil of slow-roasted pork marinated in Seville oranges, garlic and spices. Small in size but full of flavour, each course was served in a traditional terracotta dish on a turning platter – a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds.

Our succulent and meaty paella had that delicious charcoal-like aroma whilst the chimichangas (soft tortillas filled with chicken, fried and topped with a piquant tomato sauce and cheese) were rich and satisfying, just the sort of comfort food a cold night demanded.

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A tasty, spicy, homemade sweet chilli sauce accompanied the pan-fried, battered red mullet and prawns, but our favourite dish of the night was the Mexican mole poblano, tender pork in a chilli and chocolate sauce that was nothing short of spectacular.

With just enough room for dessert, we finished with traditional crema Catalana topped with a crispy caramel layer, and a delicious tres leches (three milk) cake. The light sponge, which had been soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream, was so mouth-watering that we long to recreate the recipe at home.

Throughout our meal we couldn’t help but notice the variety of customers South 16 attracts: local artists, groups of friends and holidaymakers were amongst our fellow diners.

Whatever the weather, inside this cosy and convivial restaurant you could easily be in sunnier climes. Dishes are authentic, the atmosphere is relaxed and it’s easy to see why it has delighted all the visitors who have stumbled upon its charms.

South 16, 9 Market St, Buxton SK17 6JY. Tel: 01298 25397