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»From the outside, Roman Tapas and Grill looks pretty unassuming. Roman Way in Holloway is, after all, not the first destination that would spring to mind when heading out for some culinary delights in Islington.

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But this gem of a tapas bar, minutes away from the thriving restaurant scene in Upper Street and of the cusp of the Barnsbury conservation area, is one fine example of how it pays to get off the beaten track.

Step through door and you’ll find a small, warm and inviting restaurant with simple, light décor doused in the glow of candlelight – exactly what you’d hope to find in an authentic tapas bar and the perfect antidote to these cold and dark winter evenings.

The varied menu offers salads, steaks and paella, but the tapas had come highly recommended from a friend – and it certainly stole the show for me.

We were brought a crisp bottle of house white and some beautifully fresh breads complete with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dips, as well as olives.

David Goodman, who opened the restaurant in 2010 , seems to know most people walking through the door – showing that most of the clientele are repeat customers, and the eatery does have a real respected neighbourhood feel.

David recommended that my friend and I chose three dishes each – and that certainly proved to be more than enough. The prawns baked in garlic oozed flavour, while the patatas bravas came served with the spicy tomato sauce and alioli served separately, allowing us to mix them to taste and add to any other dishes.

The special of chickpeas and chorizo was delicate and bursting with flavour, having been baked in a red wine sauce. The chicken skewers had a spicy, chargrilled taste and came with crème fraiche, while the artichoke hearts served with spinach, garlic and manchego (cheese), fell apart to the touch.

Probably my favourite dish was the queso de cabra gratinado, a baked stack of sweet-tasting peppers, tender aubergines and tangy and smooth melted goat’s cheese smothered in a rich tomato sauce.

We also managed to find just enough room to share a sublime chocolate brownie.

If you want authentic Spanish cuisine and tasty tapas in a relaxed atmosphere, then this is the place to head.

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