Rico Libre is one of my favourite spots in Birmingham. Tucked away on a Digbeth back street is the last place you’d expect to find good quality, bargain Tapas, but that’s exactly what Rico Libre is.
Since my last visit, Rice Libre has a little face-lift, and is now a clean, white space, with not a trace of the old mismatched furniture, or posters plastering the ceiling. I sort of miss it’s old, mad decor, but the stripped back, no frills fit-out suits it, and there’s a now much more room between tables, which is an improvement.
If you’re a first time visitor, bear in mind Rico has a bring your own alcohol policy, and doesn’t serve any alcohol at all. This means they also have a minimum spend of £18 a head, but this is easily met.
Because we’re bloggers, we over-ordered as always. We started with Pan de Barra (£3.80), Pan de Ajo (£3.80) and Olives (£2.50). The bread was fresh, with plenty of oil for dipping, and the garlic flatbread was very garlicky in the best way. The olives were juicy, salty and plentiful.
Tempura Prawns (£7.50) is a huge portion for the price, with very fresh prawns with lots of flavour. The tempura batter is light and not greasy at all. The Scallops (£8.50) are topped with mango salsa and caviar, and are some of the biggest scallops I’ve ever been served. They’re huge, meaty and very tender.
The Grilled Halloumi (£5.50) was a bit drowned in the rustic tomato sauce for me, and I’d have preferred a more halloumi heavy ratio, but it was still soft and salty. Patatas Alioli (£5) were a nice change from the usual Bravas, and were slathered in garlic sauce. The potatoes were crisp and well fried.
Light Fried Whitebait (£5.75) were another plentiful portion. The little fish were very lightly battered, letting all the strong fishy flavour come through. The Calameres (£6) was a huge portion we were all amazed by. The squid was good quality, with plenty of bite and no chewiness, but the batter was a touch oily for my taste.
From the specials we tried Duck Breast with Goat’s Cheese which was an incredibly pretty dish. The duck was still pink in the middle and was paired beautifully with the rich goat’s cheese. Shell on King Prawns were enormous, and still tasted strongly of the sea, in the best way. The Tortilla de Patatas arrived in doorstop sized slices, and was packed with slices of soft potato and plenty of cheese.
a warm welcome
Service at Rico Libre is always friendly, with the owner appearing regularly to check on things and recommend dishes. He’s obviously very proud of his restaurant, and chatted away to us about ingredients and how their food is prepared.
Tapas with a twist is cooked with real pride, and you’re sure to have an excellent value, delicious dinner.
We paid in full, but the owner knows a couple of my dining companions and knew we were bloggers. All words, opinions and images are own. Prices correct at the time of writing.