When I was invited to El Pirata, a Spanish tapas restaurant in Mayfair I was immediately slightly sceptical and thought it might be overpriced and unauthentic. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was neither.
We had a selection of the classic and house specialities paired with a number of wines as well as a sherry that went with the starters.
How can you not start with some Padron peppers, olives and pan con tomate?
The Jamon Iberico was absolutely delicious – it melted in the mouth like ham butter! The quality and flavour of the fat is the difference between good dried ham and average prosciutto/parma ham and this was definitely on the premium side!
We then had some jumbo red prawns which for me were just heaven – the star of the evening. Cooked simply ‘a la plancha’ and finished with oil, garlic, chilli and parsley. Absolutely delicious. The chef also brought out some raw prawns so that we could see the red (rather than grey) colour of the prawns before they are cooked. If you go to El Pirata….get the prawns.
We also had some fried calamari and monkfish which was cooked to perfection and tasted so fresh.
The bar when we arrived at 6.30pm was fairly quiet but by 7.30/8pm was positively buzzing and would be a great place to stop off for a couple of glasses of wine and some tapas on the way home from work.
My second favourite dish of the evening was the slow cooked pig cheeks which were wonderfully tender and full of flavour served with a carrot puree.
We also had some shoulder of pork thinly sliced and cooked slightly pink. At this point I was pretty full.
We also had some amazing black squid ink rice on the side and there were still the fillet steak with shaved manchego cheese and rocket salad to come as well as chicken and chorizo skewers!
and let’s not forget the stuffed aubergine which was soft, full of flavour and came with tomatoes and melted manchego cheese.
After the full wine flight – sherry with starters, followed by two whites and two red wines, we moved on to the dessert wine which was served with a Spanish version of bread and butter pudding which was creamy, sweet and crunchy on the outside in the same way as the top of a creme brulee.
All in all I was very pleasantly surprised with the quality of the food at El Pirata and would happily go back. Considering the Mayfair location and quality of ingredients it’s actually very good value as well. Give it a whirl.
El Pirata, Mayfair: http://www.elpirata.co.uk/