Looking round Shibuya for dinner one evening, I was checking menus outside restaurants, seeing what would catch my eye without being too expensive. A little way past Tokyu Hands I found a branch of nationwide chain Tapas & Tapas, which had some interesting-looking and reasonably priced house specials on its menu. Already very ready to stop looking and start eating, up the steps and in I went.
Inside they're going squarely for a Mediterranean taverna look, slightly twee but still fun: there's plenty of exposed brickwork, lots of wooden beams and fittings, plaster and decorative plates in warm colours, and a big reproduction of an antique map of Italy. The atmosphere was just spoiled a bit by the bland white soul BGM: someone (possibly me) needs to tell restaurant owners that it's possible to be safe without being dull.
The menu has everything in English, and I chose one of the house specials, a flank beef stew for ¥980. I was ready to order a side dish or dessert if I needed to, but it turned out to be big enough by itself: the beef was pretty generous, tender and tasty, and the dish was bulked up with crisp fried potato wedges, a bit of greenery, and some pleasantly chewy mushrooms. Once I was finished I felt satisfied, but not stuffed.
For a restaurant calling itself Tapas & Tapas, there's precious little Spanish food on the menu; other than ¥580 ajillos (potato and octopus, shrimp or mushroom) it's mainly Italian fare on offer. For around ¥1000 you can have pizzas such as sausage and mascarpone, four cheese or carbonara - yes, pizza carbonara - or some of their more inventive pasta dishes, like whole blue crab in tomato sauce, the intriguing-sounding carbonara "with slab of bacon", or salmon, bacon and spinach. House specials other than my stew include a Hungarian pork and paprika stew for ¥780 or, if you're really hungry, a 300g grilled chuck steak for ¥2180.
The desserts are also mostly Italian - gelato, sorbet, pannacotta and chocolate gateau all cost around ¥400 each - while drinks are between ¥300 and ¥450, with cassis beer and white peach or lychee spritzers alongside the usual suspects.
So that's Tapas & Tapas, somewhere I'll bear in mind for when I need a lunch or dinner that'll fill me up happily without breaking the bank. Arrivederci, or hasta la vista!