Our death row meal would start with a plate of proper Spanish creamy croquettes. You know, the kind you can only find in backstreet restaurants in Seville, Barcelona or Madrid. We make sure we eat our fair share every time we’re in the country, stockpiling for the foodie memory bank.
However – last night we discovered a little slice of Spain, right here in good old London town.
Mayfair institution, El Pirata has been dishing up authentic Spanish tapas, with that all important warm welcome for nearly a quarter of a century. How we’ve only just discovered it is quite frankly, a travesty, but we’re here to tell you all about it so you don’t miss out yourself.
The restaurant is set over two floor but we recommend sitting upstairs if you can. The décor is a mishmash of typical tapas bars – think black and white photographs, a wrought iron spiral staircase and a lively kitchen.
You’d be forgiven for thinking prices would be more Mayfair than Madrid but we were pleasantly surprised. Order your favourites individually or opt for the ‘Menu del Dia’ available from 12pm – 6pm each day and great value at £10.25 per person for two tapas dishes, a basket of bread and alioli and a glass of wine or beer. In addition, there are also two set menus; £18.50 and £23.50 each which include up to 10 tapas dishes!
An experienced waiter promptly delivered a huge plate of authentic jamon, salty padron peppers and fresh bread with alioli while we perused the rest of the menu. We started with a simple rocket salad with generous parmesan shavings and pine nuts as well as big fat, sizzling garlic prawns. Easily as good as any we’ve had in Spain.
The fish section is very strong – go for the deep fried Monkfish medallions or Calamares con arroz negro (black rice & squid) – a specialty here. Chicken and chorizo skewers were super tender and full of flavor, we hoovered them up alongside greedy spoonful’s of lentils and pancetta – and of course, those chicken croquettes.
Add a glass of cava to start and one of the many Spanish red’s on offer from £21 a bottle.
Not quite ready to leave we shared vanilla ice-cream doused in sweet white sherry. Stepping back onto the Mayfair streets, the spell was over – but it’s nice to know Spain is just an uber ride away.
Fantastic, unpretentious tapas, just how it should be.