There really is an abundance of good tapas bars. Especially in London, you’ll find many and all with little variations, each trying to add their own little twist and signature style to traditional dishes. If I told you how many different types of Patatas Bravas I’ve had you wouldn’t believe me. However, few get it right and I’m not just talking about the food, it’s about the service and attention to detail.
Tucked away on a side street off Piccadilly sits El Pirata of Mayfair (The Pirate of Mayfair), a 25-year-old tapas bar which has played host to the likes of Brian May to Johnny Depp over the years.
It’s a little off the beaten track so the diners you’ll find inside have made El Pirata their destination rather than just popping in while passing. Saying this, the location is just walking distance from Green Park Station and a number of prime hotels including The Athenaeum and The May Fair Hotel.
Amazing pieces of art grace the walls, there’s a large bar housing a very good selection of drinks, and small tables wrapped in black tablecloths all to add to an authentic Spanish feel.
It’s approaching lunchtime on a Thursday so I’m interested to see what the lunch crowd is like. My lunch companion and I are already joined by a couple of businessmen on an adjacent table and a young couple behind us. Within 30 minutes the restaurant picks up the pace with more and more diners walking through the doors making you believe you’ve stumbled upon one of Mayfair’s hidden little gems.
The service as you would expect is great. All staff speak Spanish and English. They are attentive and supply you with great authentic recommendations off the menu. I say authentic because it’s easy to see when staff have been trained to pitch specific dishes against those who have actually tasted the food and offer their personal favorites. Jose Rodrigues (GM) tells me some of the kitchen staff have been at the restaurant since it opened and the restaurant has a family ethos, making everyone feel part of the same family.
We start off with a glass of house red with a plate of Iberian ham accompanied with small green peppers from Galacia. I’ve enjoyed ham from various tapas bars but by far this has to be the best. There I said it!
Following courses included medallions of monkfish, chicken croquettes and octopus with potatoes brushed with olive oil and paprika. We finished off the meal with pear in sweet red wine with ice cream for dessert…not something I would usually order in a restaurant but I was pleasantly surprised.
The food ultimately is what brings people back time after time. El Pirata has managed to get the formula perfectly right with the dishes. The food is delicious, and everything we tried was tastefully balanced. I very much recommend choosing a few dishes which you wouldn’t usually select with dining. I have a feeling you’ll be impressed.
The price of the dishes is reasonable considering the restaurant’s locality and the standard of the offerings. Starters range from £4-£6, and mains from £6-£9 on average. Set-menus are also available starting from £10.25. A wide selection of wines and spirits are also priced in keeping with the restaurant and the area.
A wonderful dining establishment which I highly recommend. I look forward to returning very soon.
Review by Kalpesh Patel
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