Maybe I should write that ‘I don’t approve animals being at the table.’ But I’d be lying.

I can see the logic behind why it’s not a good idea …but then I can also see the logic of stopping after two glasses of wine, or why fruit is better for weight loss than ice cream, and the fact that wearing a rucksack instead of an overloaded handbag is much more sensible. Recognising the logic isn’t the same as applying it though.

In a world that’s crippled by health and safety, animals are becoming rarer and rarer in the dining place. And it’s a shame. They add a homely feel to a restaurant, can be great mid-meal entertainment, and if the portion sizes are a bit too big, then they’ll help you leave an empty plate.

I’m not allowed pets in the apartment I live in. So you can only imagine my delight when, the first time I went to Laxeiro, I was greeted by an extraordinarily handsome, white, fluffy cat. The second time I went, I met a 10-week old Boston terrier and a kitten. Food aside, I’m afraid that I am biased enough to give Laxeiro 5/5 on this alone.

For people out there who think that dogs should be in kennels – not sat on your knee sharing your pudding, then I can report that the food was super as well.

On my first visit, I shared a selection of dishes which are bigger than tapas, but smaller than a main course by themselves. They were cooked to perfection, delicately seasoned, and the fish in particular was so fresh that I might have been in some coastal village as much as London’s grimy East End.

Last time I was at Laxeiro, I went for the shared paella. We were told there would be a half hour wait, which I found encouraging (I can’t help but be a little suspicious of paella that’s served immediately!)
When the paella arrived, it was loaded with enormous prawns, and was meaty and crammed full of flavour. Much to our shame, we couldn’t finish the whole dish, but were asked if we’d like a ‘doggy bag’, which relieves the British shame that comes with asking yourself.

Vinegar, oil and bread to start, a shared paella (which counted as main course, and lunch for the following day) and a bottle of Rioja came to a very reasonable £35. For great value Spanish food, in a homey environment, you can’t go far wrong with Laxeiro – another real East End gem.

93, Columbia Road, Bethnal Green E2 7RG

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