El Pirata restaurant review
'Generous portion sizes presented with finesse' at El Pirata

El Pirata

Open Mon–Fri midday–3pm and 6pm–11pm, Sat and Sun midday–11pm

The decor of the Westbourne Grove offshoot of this tapas restaurant is reflective of the food; combining the traditional and contemporary. We got there early and were seated near the door which was slightly unfortunate for two reasons; firstly it was mid November and with a constant flow of diners a cold draft hit us regularly; secondly, that area felt a bit like a corridor; the thoroughfare of the restaurant. The best place to sit is the lively back of the restaurant or in the hidden away downstairs area.

We ordered a very good value bottle of house red (£14.50). The tempranillo was easy drinking yet lively enough to compete with the variety of delicious flavours that were soon to arrive.

We ordered the chef’s tasting menu (£25) which started with bread and a delicious homemade aioli followed by a refreshing chicory dish with a Valdeón cheese foam. I am not the biggest fan of chicory, finding it too bitter. However, the rich creaminess of the cheese made for an intriguing, addictive contrast. It was one of those dishes you are not sure you lik, so you keep trying it until the plate is left bare.

A few more dishes came before the arrival of the pan-fried cod with braised savoy cabbage. The fish was beautifully moist and cleansed the palate nicely in time for the stronger, meatier dishes arrived.

The chef kindly agreed to substitute scallops (which did sound delicious) for the six-hour roasted pork belly with parsnip puree. The two pork dishes we had were by far the best of the bunch. The pork was served on a black, slate board (very trendy at the moment) and was exactly as good pork should be – juicy and tender with a satisfying rich sweetness and came with my guilty pleasure; crackling, which was cooked to perfection. Due to the constant movement of the jaw, pork cheek is one the most tender and lean cuts of meat you can find and this was no exception. Served with carrot puree and red wine-infused shallots, it was a triumph.

The wood pigeon was unfortunately the dud dish of the evening. It was incredibly tough and salty. Fortunately, the Serrano ham croquettes were perfectly crispy on the outside and the mouth-watering filling oozed out once broken. We finished with an indulgent chocolate mousse which nearly tipped us in to a food-induced coma.

I highly recommend the tasting menu as it offers a good balance of fish, vegetables and meat dishes with generous portion sizes presented with finesse. This is a fantastic neighbourhood restaurant and is clearly already incredibly popular. However, the standard of cooking and competitive pricing means this could well become a west London destination restaurant.

Meal for two, with wine, around £80.

El Pirata, 115 Westbourne Grove, London, W2; www.elpiratadetapas.co.uk; 020 7727 5000

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