Open for over 22 years (almost a quarter of a century!), El Pirata is a Spanish tapas bar and restaurant that is known to serve some of the best and most authentic Spanish food in London. It is a bit of a hidden gem, tucked away on Down Street, just off Piccadilly, and offers a laid back and friendly atmosphere in the middle of Mayfair.
The restaurant interior design is inspired by typical Spanish tapas bars, with seated dining spread over two floors, including a bar on the ground floor where you are welcome to pop in for a drink and a light bite, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the action in the kitchen.
As I’ve never really ventured much into that part of Mayfair, I was quite surprised to see how lively it was inside despite being located on such a quiet street. It was also fun to see that they had embraced the festive spirit by decorating the inside with sparkly Christmas baubles.
The kitchen is led by Head Chef Rosendo Simbana, with a menu that offers more than 60 different tapas dishes and over 140 Spanish wines.
We were served a few nibbles whilst we settled in and browsed through the menu: marinated mixed olives, my favourite padron peppers, and delicious melt-in-your-mouth Jamón ibérico.
We had a couple of their signature dishes from the seafood section, including the Langostinos al chef (grilled prawns in a tomato, garlic and white wine sauce) and the Calamares con arroz negro (black rice and squid). The prawns were really fresh and juicy, and that sauce was very flavoursome, that I would definitely recommend ordering extra bread to soak up all that goodness …
The rice was cooked well and had a nice bite to it, with small pieces of squid mixed into it – also very appetizing.
I do love lamb, and the Chuletitas de cordero (grilled lamb cutlets) were succulent, juicy, and well-marinated, just how it should be. The marinated chicken skewers were tender and the chorizo pieces gave it some extra flavour and a nice hint of spiciness.
We also had the tortilla, a classic Spanish omelette with potatoes and onions that was simple and wholesome
I would have happily ordered more hot tapas dishes if not for the limited space in my stomach … I did have my eye on that grilled octopus and baby eels in olive oil.
By the end of our meal, we just about had enough space to share one dessert, going for the creamy Crema Catalana and coffee to finish off.
Alongside tapas El Pirata also offers larger, traditional dishes including Cochinillo a la traditional (roasted suckling pig with potatoes in a traditional style) and Lubina a la Espalda (whole butterfly sea bass grilled, with garlic and chilli, olive oil, sherry vinegar and served with fresh beans and pobre potatoes). Just reading through the menu again makes me hungry.
There is a wide variety of dishes to choose from and tapas menus are always really flexible, so there will always be something to suit everyone’s tastes.
The ‘Menu del Dia‘ which is available from 12pm – 6pm is well-priced at £10.25 per person (two tapas dishes, a basket of bread and aioli, and a glass of wine/beer), and twp equally good value set menus (£18.50 and £23.50 each) that include upto 10 tapas dishes.
We had a lovely experience from start to finish, and service was pretty smooth despite it being quite busy that evening.
This charming venue is within walking distance from Green Park and Hyde Park tube stations, where General Manager Jose Rodrigues and his team will be sure to show you some proper Spanish hospitality and make sure that you leave feeling full and satisfied.
You can find out more information on their website.
The Cheekster, signing out x
The meal was complimentary, but views remain my own.