Having had a wonderful holiday in Spain recently, my mind often wanders back to the delicious food I tucked into there on a daily basis. When a friend recommended Spanish tapas restaurant, El Pirata, on a quiet street in Mayfair, I knew I had to pay a visit so that I could do more than just think about food. Tucked away for almost 25 years behind Green Park station on Down Street, El Pirata is everything you want a Spanish restaurant to be. It’s lively (even early on a Wednesday evening), with smaller tables upstairs, all situated around a spiral staircase leading down to bigger group tables downstairs. There is a multitude of colourful prints on the walls, and a bar with seats at it (that we have already earmarked for another visit) and lots of friendly waiters buzzing happily about. We start with a glass of chilled Cava and a huge plate of Montaditis de Jamon Serrano and the most delicious freshly baked brown bread topped with a fresh tomato sauce. It turns out to be a good thing that we have a table for four for just the two of us as the tapas keeps on coming (there are over 60 dishes to choose from, so it took us a while to whittle it down). Washed down with a light Sierra Cantabria Rosado Rioja, we tuck into chicken croquettes, sardines, stuffed aubergine, chicken and chorizo on skewers, meatballs and patatas bravas – all the classics but cooked to perfection and just the right size portions to leave enough room for dessert. This is a chocolate-filled crêpe served with ice-cream and a lemon sorbet – very zingy and refreshing and making us think of sunnier times. There are tables outside the restaurant, so it’s definitely a spot to bear in mind if you can think that far ahead!
We’re focusing on Christmas now though, and so is El Pirata as Head Chef Rosendo Simbana has created three exclusive set tapas menus for the festive period; available from 1st December until 23rd December. Perfect for a team lunch or family get-together, they include a Lunch Menu for £24.50 per person, a Dinner Menu for £31.50 per person and a Vegetarian Menu – £21.50 for lunch or £27.95 for dinner. The festive set menus feature popular dishes such as Paella Marinera (classic Spanish dish of rice, shellfish and seafood), Carrillera (slow cooked pork cheeks with a vegetable sauce and pumpkin puree) and Pimientos Rellenos (peppers filled with vegetable risotto). For a bigger event, if you are looking for a more private area, the lower ground floor is great for larger parties with a capacity for 65 people.
5-6 Down Street, Mayfair, W1J 7AQ, 020 7491 3810