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Review: El Pirata

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.

[Items in this article may have been gifted to Chatting Food. No financial payment has been made to feature in this article, and entries to the feature are made independently by members of the Editorial Team. This page contains affiliate links and we may receive a small commission for purchases]

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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