Tucked down a side street in the swish area of Mayfair, El Pirata has been serving traditional tapas to appreciative locals for around a quarter of a century. As soon as you walk in you feel the relaxed, welcoming vibe; it is easy to settle in for a leisurely lunch, which is exactly what we did.
Buñuelos de gambas - prawn fritters with garlic aioli
Pan con tomate/ajo - toasted bread topped with fresh tomato, olive oil & garlic
Really delicious prawn fritters, plump and juicy, served with a punchy aioli; these are very good with a glass (or two) of their Paso a Paso Verdejo organic white wine. Regular readers will know that I love a pan con tomate and I am happy to report that this is a stellar example. Super-light toasted bread, perhaps a little light on garlic but with a topping of beautifully fresh, sweet crushed tomatoes.
Croquetas de jamón Ibérico - Iberian ham croquettes
Pulpo a Pirata - octopus & potatoes with olive oil & paprika
I never met a croqueta I didn't like and these are no exception; thick, creamy bechamel, salty ham and a thin, crispy coating. don't miss these on the menu. Also delicious is the traditional Pulpo a la Gallega, served here as a house special with potatoes which are perfect for soaking up the spicy oil and juices.
Secreto de cerdo Ibérico - Iberian pork secret, potatoes, piperade & rosemary
This was our stand-out dish; meltingly soft, caramelised top quality pork, scented with rosemary and served simply on a bed of piperade. This was a great showcase for the chef. Fabulous and highly recommended.
Patatas bravas - deep-fried potatoes in chilli, tomato & garlic sauce
Tortilla - Spanish omelette with potatoes & onion
It may not seem like a lot of sauce but actually it is the perfect ratio as it is pretty punchy and spiky with heat. The tortilla has a slightly squidgy centre - not quite the full-on ooze that I prefer but I realise I am in the minority and most diners would not necessarily notice the yielding softness at the centre. It's basically a winner for both sides.
With the option of outside tables or an air-conditioned interior, El Pirata has all your bases covered. This is a great option in a relatively pricy part of town. If you are unfamiliar with tapas, indecisive or just feeling languorous, there is an Introduction to Tapas sharing menu for £58 for two with ten classic dishes, which is really good value. A hidden gem for your next shopping trip ; make a note and thank us later.
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Deputy Editor, Chatting Food London: Amanda David
Amanda David is a freelance food writer specialising in London’s restaurants, bars, exhibitions and events. She is the Events Editor for London Cheapo and a regular contributor to Palate Magazine.
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