Tapas is my ideal kind of food. I am SO indecisive when it comes to ordering in restaurants – and I hate getting food envy.
Have you ever gone to a restaurant, ordered your main course and someone else’s arrives which looks SO much better so you’re left to weep a little into your plate...no? Yeah, me neither…
Tapas though – tapas is the dream. You get to order lots of different bits from the menu so you can try all of the food and feel none of the envy.
You can't 'do' tapas wrong either. Any combination of meat, fish, veggies - hot or cold - is allowed. It's like one giant pick ‘n’ mix and when I come across an authentic Spanish restaurant like El Pirata – I really go to town.
If you haven’t heard of it – I urge you to familiarise yourself ASAP. El Pirata has been but a jewel in Mayfair’s very sparkly crown for over 22 years and not because it’s all glitz and glamour, but because they serve real, authentic Spanish tapas at affordable prices.
Yep – a purse friendly dinner in Mayfair. Almost unheard of - so grab your elasticated trousers and I’ll show you around my favourite dishes….
Like I said before, the food at El Pirata is all about big bold flavours in little portions so you can share them out with your best pals.
Start off with a basket of soft white bread to scoop up all that lovely aioli while you plan your assault on the menu.I adore padron peppers so these are a must-order. They come with a perfectly charred skin and a generous crack of salt - just remember 1 in 10 has a fiery kick before you go diving in too fast!
The Pulpo a la gallega, or octopus to you and me, is super tender and comes brushed with olive oil and paprika. It’s a signature dish in Spain and super simple but tastes incredible when cooked this well.Ahh, Calamares con arroz negro. I’ve had a mini love affair with this dish since I saw Rick Stein cooking it on TV a few years ago (remember the one when his lips went black?)
It’s made using squid ink and chunks of fish and transports you to the sea with every bite. Don't be put off by how it looks - it's super delicious (eat it with your eyes closed if you have to - just make sure you eat it!)
I’d also suggest ordering one of the many prawn dishes on offer – we adored the Mar y tierra: fresh plump prawns, pimento peppers and wild mushrooms sautéed in a little olive oil which arrives still sizzling at your table!
The tortilla, or Spanish omelette didn’t really do it for me and is the only dish I wouldn't order again.... Nothing against the dish itself or the cooking...I just found it a bit, plain I guess?
If you’re after meats, you can’t go wrong with the Pinchos morunos con chorizo. The idea of chicken skewers might seem dull but the fragrant marinade, chunks of chorizo and punchy paprika made this one of our favourite dishes of the night.
It would be rude not to order a round of Patatas bravas when you go and you really can’t miss the croquettes. A creamy blend of béchamel sauce and chicken lightly breaded and fried – just as good as any you’d get in Spain.
If you've got room, promise you'll order a slice of the torta de chocolate, a home-made chocolate cake. It’s served semi-warm with vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries and is the best way to finish off your meal.
So what do you think? Promise me you'll go - please!
At just over £40pp, you really can't argue with the quality of the food at El Pirata....they do say the best things come in small packages after all.
You might also note that I managed to navigate this whole post without a single drop of the incredible Spanish wine on offer at El Pirata. I’m currently taking part in Dry January to raise money to Alcohol Concern so if you wish to donate, please do head over here.
5-6 Down St
Mayfair, W1J 7AQ
* I was invited to review El Pirata
All food & drink was complimentary but opinions are my own!