Dining out at Marco's Wine Bar and Spanish Tapas in Rayleigh
PUBLISHED: 17:30 10 January 2011 | UPDATED: 21:41 20 February 2013
ON A cold, damp winter's lunchtime, what else could you wish for but to be carried back to the Costa del sunshine
3 side orders
Three more tapas restaurants to tempt you
3A Baddow Road
We say: Salsa nights every Tuesday will help you to work up an appetite.
205 London Road
We say: With a special set menu plus a la carte, youll be spoiled for choice.
La Cascada Spanish Restaurant
We say: Look out for the special
wine tasting evenings for an extra special treat.
ON A cold, damp winters lunchtime, what else could you wish for but to be carried back to the Costa del sunshine where the weather was kinder, the food was delicious and the atmosphere lulled you into a happier, holiday mood.
Marcos Bar in Rayleigh has plenty of traditional Spanish artwork to contribute to the customary Hispanic red and black colour scheme to warm your heart the moment you arrive. There is a strict over-25s rule, probably as those over 25 are the only ones who remember how much fun those 1980s wine bars actually were.
And Marcos Bar has plenty going on each night to attract a crowd. Each Thursday Marcos holds tribute nights with live music and theres more live music to entertain on a Friday and Saturday night too. The bar is closed on a Sunday, although the whole Spanish-themed restaurant is available to hire for private parties.
The main menu has more than 50 different tapas dishes to try in any combination you desire, plus traditional paella. The menu is helpfully broken down into meat and chicken dishes, fish and seafood, and vegetable. Individual pottery dishes are served at your table and at Marcos you can have a lunch of three different tapas dishes (a starter, a main course and a side dish) all for just 7.50. It also includes a dessert or a tea or coffee.
I chose to start with garlic and cheese bread, then from the main menu I chose Spanish meat balls served with a side of Spanish potatoes. Each dish was a liberal portion, and the bread was perfect for soaking up the spicy tomato sauce surrounding the meat balls.
The beauty of a tapas meal is if youre dining in a group you get to try many different dishes together in a relaxed, informal setting its a very sociable way to eat out.
The service is both attentive and friendly and the waitress was happy to explain the differences between the dishes for me. She told me the bar has been owned by Mark for the past eight years and hes currently extending it to allow for more large tables, such is its popularity with groups of friends. Dessert was a choice of Spanish almond tart with cream, meringue nest with berries or ice cream. I chose the Spanish sponge tart, nice and light with a delicate flavour of almonds.
As you might expect from a Spanish-themed wine bar, the wine list features plenty of wines from Spain although theres also some Chilean, French, Italian and wines from New Zealand in there too for good measure. Theres also some French Champagnes and Spanish cava and a bottle of house wine starts from just 11.50.
Useful to know
My total bill came to 9.50 for three tapas dishes, a dessert and a glass of wine. This is an independent review, featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and wine editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.