Restaurant review: Las Fuentes

By - Tuesday 1st April, 2014

Jess Bashford has found a contender for her favourite Spanish food fix – a place for top-notch tapas in Purley

38-40 High St, Town Centre, Purley, Croydon, CR8 2AA, tel. 020 8763 1983
Time from East Croydon   
10 minutes

A top recommendation: the delicious fish skewers at Las Fuentes. Photo by Jess Bashford.

Since a disappointing meal at my old favourite tapas bar in West Wickham, I’ve been on the hunt for a new Spanish food fix. And I’ve definitely found a contender.

You can’t make reservations at Las Fuentes so you do have to wait for a table when you arrive, but with its bustling bar and lively, natural atmosphere this isn’t much of a hardship. As it was a Saturday night, we were originally given a 45 minute waiting time, but happily only waited half of this.

Forget a drizzly night in Purley – I could have been in Spain

The food is really very good and extremely authentic. It feels as if you could be sitting by the sea in the locals’ family-run tapas bar in Spain – it’s not until you look out the window and realise it’s a drizzly night in Purley that you remember reality.

I’d recommend the fish skewer: good-sized prawns and wedges of white fish (I presumed it was monkfish) impaled on a dangling metal skewer. At £12.50 a pop, they’re not cheap – but you get what you pay for.  We were also treated to some fried polenta cubes. These were a welcome addition and were brought to us (unordered) with a second round of skewers. Polenta always runs the risk of being bland, but these were delicious little mouthfuls that I recommend asking about if you don’t get any.

Although the service was personable and friendly, busyness slowed them down a bit. I had no issue with the wait for food, but my drink order was slow. I ordered a jug of sangria, which was almost too drinkable, but waited too long to get it. And after we were brought our jug, we were left without glasses. We succeeded in catching a very busy waiter’s eye at least five minutes later – then waited this length of time again for the glasses to arrive. We also had to ask for bread, which they provide for free, but was neither on the table when we sat down nor offered to us. But other than these blips, I had no other complaints with the service.

French fries don’t scream of Spanish authenticity

Patatas bravas (that old Spanish staple) were tasty and I did demolish a plateful, but they didn’t have the expected touch of chilli-heat, except when I actually bit on a chilli. Their olives weren’t for me either  – I think it was their marinade I didn’t like. And finally: French fries.

They offered chips on the menu, which didn’t scream of Spanish authenticity, but is understandable when you’re a busy family restaurant which might be faced with some fussy eaters. But I didn’t expect to get them with two of my dishes. I ordered raxo (pork cooked in a Galician sauce) and liver with onions, and both came with chips on the side. There was nothing wrong with the chips, but they were unnecessary additions.

Service is friendly, and although being so busy slows down service, the number of people does create a fun atmosphere. Plenty of food and drink for two came to around £45. If you skipped on the skewer and drank wine, beer or soft drinks instead of sangria at £15 a jug, then I think that you could do it cheaper.

If you like tapas with a buzzing atmosphere, then Las Fuentes is for you. It’s a reasonably large menu and it will take another visit to really delve into it. I’m looking forward to trying more dishes from their menu.

Jess Bashford

Jess Bashford

Jess Bashford is a writer at a brand language consultancy and an English literature and creative writing graduate. She’s passionate about showing that Croydon is a great place to live and excited to delve into Croydon’s cultural side. She loves all things wordy and foody.

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  • Anne Giles

    I am so glad that you are passionate about showing that Croydon is a great place to live. So am I. I love Spanish tapas. Haven’t been to Las Fuentes for years, as I was not happy that one can’t book a table and I was taking my students there, Also – the night we went appeared to be a “singles” night! We usually go to Galicia in the High Street.