El Pirata 1

5-6 Down Street , London, W1J 7AQ

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  • El-Pirata-9

SquareMeal Review of El Pirata

A favourite with Mayfair's Spanish community and converts to the new Iberian cause, El Pirata may not be as trendy as some of the young tapas upstarts in the capital, but it does the business by offering speedy service, authentic flavours and very fair prices into the bargain (note the set lunch deal for around a tenner). Staples such as albondigas, kidneys in sherry, grilled sardines and patatas bravas are supplemented by more enterprising daily specials including grilled pressa (shoulder of Iberian pork) or chicken breast wrapped in serrano ham with capers and Albariño jus – perfect with a bottle of Mahou beer, a tot of sherry, or something from the well-spread Spanish wine list. Eat in the lively ground-floor room surrounded by mirrors and Picasso prints, or bag a table outside when the weather's kind.

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8.1

Food & Drink: 8.6

Service: 7.9

Atmosphere: 8.1

Value: 8.3

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Claire R. 23 October 2012

Fab restaurant with a lovely authentic atmosphere. will definately be coming back.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Someone who loves their food bronze reviewer 07 October 2011

The atmosphere in this restaurant is fairly good albeit it's fairly dark and dingy downstairs but the biggest let down is the food. Everything tastes of oil, is big and chunky, is dumped on the plates and doesn't remotely remind me of Spain. It seems like little, if any, care has been taken when prepping and cooking the food. You are made to feel like ordering and completing your meal is a race in which you have no choice but to participate. I can imagine it could be a venue for a fun night for a hen night when you don't really care what you are eating so long as it is reasonably priced and at a central location but I think I will pass.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

Sabrina's Passions platinum reviewer 11 June 2010

If I’m being perfectly honest, I have not been to El Pirata since 1996 when I used to work around the corner as a switchboard operator. It was the venue where our staff nights out would be held and looking back, they were actually incredibly fun nights. We would get utterly hammered, eat plate after plate of Tapas and then tuck in to huge pans of Paella, staggering out around midnight and head to some late night not-so-hot-spot and continue the party. I guess I put El Pirata to the back of my mind along with all those memories of my late teens. Over 14 years later and shockingly little has changed at El Pirata. In fact nothing has changed here apart from the fact that chain-smoking inside the restaurant is no longer a viable which, now I’m virtually smoke free, is not such a bad thing. The décor is still exactly the same, white (ish) walls with dark wood beams and terracotta tile floors; very simple and really on-the-money in the authenticity sweepstakes. Our host is a portrait of the stereotypical Spanish waiter with thick Spanish accent, almost jolly in his enthusiasm but very nice and hospitable. We are served a platter of delicately sliced Pata Negra ham, the most expensive ham in the world delivering a delicious nutty flavour courtesy of the acorns the pigs are fed on. I am quite happy to make this my entire meal but cannot resist the selection of Spanish cheeses, Padron peppers, tender deep-fried medallions of monkfish and the popular ‘Gambas a la plancha’ – prawns dropped into boiling hot oil with garlic and a fiery kick of chillies. A wonderful selection of delicious and varied dishes that were fresh and flavoursome and very enjoyable. Our main course had to be the Paella Marinara; it’s vibrant gold hue reminiscent of the warm early evening sunshine of Spain in summer. The huge cast iron Paella pan is served straight to the table and is studded with giant prawns, tender squid perfectly cooked mussels and clams. I love sunshine cooking and anything that comes from the Mediterranean but Paella is one of my favourites as long as there is tender meat and (or) seafood, perfectly cooked rice, soft and moist on the bottom of the pan and slightly crunchier on the top and plenty of saffron, onions and juice that bring the whole thing together. I am not disappointed as literally finished the whole dish within 15 minutes of it being served. Dessert was a slightly different affair with the Crema Catalana not delivering the required pizzazz that the other dishes managed to, which was a little disappointing. Luckily I am not, nor have I ever been someone that lives and dies for sweet things. The savoury part of the meal is the most important thing for me and desserts, as on this occasion, can only pale in comparison. Dinner at El Pirata proved to be a great evening out in the end. I did panic at first when I walked in and it appeared that nothing had changed in 14 years, but perhaps this is exactly why they are still open, doing great trade and serving locals as they were years ago. Sometimes change isn’t such a good thing, as the old adage goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and El Pirata most definitely ain’t broke.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Catherine R. 04 September 2009

For quality and variety of food El Pirata is a shining example of Spanish fare. They have a varied menu – from the ubiquitous chorizo al vino and bravas to have more unusual, but typically rustic latin dishes like fabada and baby eels. The salpicón de mariscos (which, in the few places it is done, is often done badly) was really fresh and is a personal favourite. They also have a decent selection for vegetarians, which can be difficult to find in a tapas restaurant! The wine list is fantastic, divided by D.O. (region) and really extensive! I really liked the fact that I could get Ondarre (mid priced and nice Tempranillio blend) or splash out and go for a Marques de Murrieta Ygay Reserva! It's tempting to try too many! The atmosphere is also wonderfully vibrant and the decor is crustily latin, you could imagine a good fiesta happening in El Pirata! The first time I went, we sat downstairs which I recommend – sitting down there you could believe you were in Spain. The service is where Pirata sometimes falls down. On my first visit the service was excellent – the waiter was friendly, attentive and had a chat (and shared my birthday chocolates with us). The third time I went it was a different story. We arrived at our booked time (9:00) and were told dismissively that our table was not ready so we'd have to wait and were waved in the general direction of the bar. No one offered to serve us a drink on our 20 minute wait. When we finished our food, we still had half a bottle of wine to finish but the waiter asked us if we wanted the bill. When we said ‘not yet’, he waited five minutes before asking again – this time leaning over us. When we said we would like to finish our wine, he said they wanted the table and brought it over anyway (despite us having had to wait 20 minutes to be seated in the first place, and having wine left that we had paid for). That said, a friend I recommended Pirata to loved it and had good service – so in summary, this is definitely one to try – the atmosphere and food are worth it alone, and most of the time they treat their customers well.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

chris J. bronze reviewer 14 May 2009

I met a friend recently for Tapas and drinks here. I had rung earlier and reserved a table but when I arrived there was a slot at the bar and that's where we ended up staying for the evening. A very friendly bar staff, happy diners and a ‘no glam’ style led to us having a great evening. The wine was lovely, as were the several beers that accompanied prawns with chilli, meatballs, cheese and numerous other delightful dishes. I definitely recommend this restaurant. My only advice is to request a table upstairs as the lower area seems like an afterthought and doesn't continue the ambiance successfully.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 5.0

Michelle S. 20 April 2009

We came across this restaurant almost by accident and when we phoned (about 5.30) we managed to get a table with about half an hours notice provided we could leave by 8 pm (they had a huge party planned). The decor was simple and the whole place quite authentic looking. There was a very ‘buzzy’ feel in he bar area as you go in and as we did go relatively early It wasn't very busy in the downstairs area, which is very light and bright with whitewashed walls and subtle lighting but the ambiance was really very chilled and the service impeccable. We ordered the set menu, well we ordered two set menus actually because we couldn't decide and it came within about 5 minutes. There was a lot of fish in the first part (not ideal if you can't stand fish) but everything was cooked freshly and presented beautifully. Our waiter was lovely and couldn't do enough for us, although I did order a ‘surprise’ bottle of champagne for my friend and he wandered over and asked my friend, who the surprise was for, if she was ready for her champagne. Luckily though she did see the funny side and so did the waiter, when he realised what he had done. BRILLIANT MEAL. If you find yourself in Green Park or nearby and want a lovely meal you couldn't do any better than choose this restaurant. We thought it was excellent value for money and couldn't fault it at all.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Sarah D. 27 January 2009

Some people may put it down, but I love this place. The food is good (especially the stuffed peppers!) and they have a great wine list. I have taken a number of out of towners here with great results. The service is quick, and the staff friendly. Be prepared to wait for a table though if you do not have a reservation.

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