Thursday, October 26, 2006

El Pirata

5-6 Down Street
London W1J 7AQ
Tel: 0207 491 3810
Visited 25 October 2006-10-26

This is without a doubt my favourite Tapas restaurant in London on account of the food and the fantastic atmosphere. I find that many, even good, tapas places over cook the tapas, over complicate it or simply don’t have the right quality ingredients. Also, usually the selection consists of the usual gambas a la planche (spelling?) and some ham. Non of this applies to El Pirata which has a huge variety of tapas, a quality of ingredients that is as good as anything in Madrid and a completely traditional kitchen.

Another, reason why I like El Pirata is the atmosphere; it is somewhat off the beaten path even though it is in Mayfair. This results in more locals and business people and less tourist. This is a very good thing as far as I’m concerned. The restaurant also has a bar running the length of the upper of its two floors. This where people come for a quick drink and a tapas or two and give the whole place a very lively feeling just like a classic Madrin Jamon place.

I went there yesterday with a client for a quick dinner and a bottle of wine. We had:

  • Jamon Iberico “patas neras” or black feet; absolutely the top quality dried ham;
  • Gambas pil pil, spicy giant prawns very good but not very exciting;
  • Calamares Romana or deep fried squid – you gotta have it even if it is pretty dull;
  • Croquetas de Pollo or deep fried chicken crockets… he insisted! although they are very good if you like this kind of junk;
  • Chulettas or roast lamb cutlets – excellent, thin, crunchy yet moist;
  • Fabada a bean stew with chorizo and belly pork, this is an all time favourite;
  • Table de Quesos Catalana or cheese board with Catalan cheeses… love their dry manchego style cheese;
  • And a couple of bottles of Protos Crianza 2001 to wash it all down with. Actually, at £31 per bottle the Protos is great value for money.

Couple of Carlos I to finish off and we where ready to go home!

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