The last time I visited Amantia it was the launch night. It rained so heavily that by the time I got to Bennetts Hill from Digbeth I half expected Pennywise to greet me with a red balloon. Alas it was PJ from Big Brother holding a bowl of paella, but same difference.
Making my first return visit since it opened in 2015, the Ribena purple walls remain (unfortunately) but so does the friendly welcome. A family run Spanish restaurant, the main focus of Amantia is tapas-style dining, with over 40 dishes to choose from. Having rescued my starving husband from a 3 hour train journey, we decided to mass order the small plates, choosing from the meat, fish and veggie options.
A bowl of plump, buttery Manzanilla Olives (£3) arrived first, followed by Pà Amb Tomàquet (£2); a toasted bread, traditionally served in Catalonia, with a tomato and garlic salsa. Clean flavours and fresh ingredients make this a simple but delicious start the meal.
A generous portion of Patatas Bravas (£4), served with the chilli-spiked red sauce on the side, became an early favourite. The crispy cubes of spud were seasoned heavily and proved moorish when dunked in the fiery accompaniment. Calamares Con Ali Oli (£7) arrived next, with delicate pieces of squid encased in a light batter. They could’ve benefited from 30 seconds longer in the fryer to improve in crispiness, but the squid was tender and the creamy dipping sauce had a decent garlic kick.
My favourite dish of the feast proved to be the comforting slab of Tortilla de Patata (£4.50), which reminded me of lunches on the side streets of Barcelona with my mum. This is a real bargain for the price tag and will be enough to bring me back for another visit. Chorizo Al Vino (£6) brought smoked paprika flavour to the table; chunks of the spicy sausage bathed in a rich and glossy sauce made with Rioja wine. While I enjoyed the meaty morsels being tender, Ian “missed the chew” that he usually associates with chorizo. We finished the bowl regardless.
Finally Cochinillo A La Cerveza (£7) and Gambas Al Ajillo (£8) complete the meal. The pork belly proved to be a major flop for us, with a bland beer sauce and uninspiring, soggy meat. Contrastingly our king prawns impressed, thanks in large part to a dreamy olive oil spiked with garlic, parsley and chilli. My only regret remains not asking for more bread to soak up the shellfish’s tasty lagoon.
An unexpectedly enjoyable impromptu meal; decent portions of authentic food served by tentative staff. This place doesn’t look traditionally all that Spanish but the food (and the soundtrack to your meal) most certainly is.
This independent restaurant isn’t reinventing the wheel but is a cut above the likes of Bar Estilo and Tapas Revolution. I’ll be back soon, Amantia.
Have you visited this restaurant? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.
Amantia, 9-10 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS
Disclosure: I paid in full (on my much abused credit card) and all words and photos are my own