A warmly-regarded Mayfair institution for over 25 years, José Rodrigues’ El Pirata has garnered a reputation for serving up classic Spanish tapas that are not only high in quality but low in price—an impressive feat considering the ritzy postcode. Eating out at El Pirata is a casual affair with a friendly and relaxed ambiance, so it’s easy to replicate the experience at home with your family or a friend. With El Pirata’s home delivery option, the selection of tapas offered on the take-away menu are authentic and diverse, with plenty of favourites like Cinco Jotas’ acorn-fed Jamón Iberico and Spanish Tortilla to enjoy at home. Also on the delivery menu, you’ll find set menus with all the must-have dishes and generous party boxes stuffed with cured meats and wines, which are ideal for larger families and small fêtes (mind the rule of six!). Also, with a small selection of Spanish wines and sherries on offer, plus a “deli” section to stock up on Spanish pantry staples like sweet paprika and packages of queso manchego, the El Pirata delivery experience really is a one-stop shop.
The experience & The Food
I knew almost immediately that I was in for a great meal. My first clue was the overwhelming fragrance of roasted garlic sizzling away in hot olive oil, a scent so strong that even the delivery driver commented on it before handing over the bags. “Smells great,” he exclaimed with a note of jealousy in his voice, and I couldn’t agree more. Not wanting to miss out on any of El Pirata’s signature tapas, I went for a classic tapas selection: gambas al pil-pil (prawns in olive oil, garlic, and dried hot chilli peppers); homemade Iberian jamón croquetas; patatas bravas; chicken in garlic; mixed wild mushrooms; chorizo in a wine sauce; a fat wedge of traditional Spanish tortilla, and some paper-thin slices of irresistible Jamón de Bellota (a.k.a. Spain’s national treasure) by one of Spain’s most esteemed high-end purveyors, Cinco Jotas. Each tapa dish comes with three to four pieces, and I also ordered some bread with some finger-lickingly delicious alioli to pad out the meal and make sure there was enough for two people. If I were to order again (and I certainly will), I’d reorder every single dish again. It was a feast of delight for any garlic-lover: the sizzling hot prawns were tender and packed with flavour; the chicken fell off the bone; and my husband and I fought over who would get the last homemade gooey jamón croqueta, fried to perfection. Even the simpler dishes like the patatas bravas (deep-fried potatoes in a thick chilli and garlic sauce) were expertly prepared—nothing was too greasy or oily, despite the big punchy kicks of full-fat flavour. The Spanish tortilla, a thick omelet bursting with potatoes and onions, is another example of the type of dish that El Pirata executes with perfection: It’s not particularly fancy and it’s certainly not ground-breaking; it’s just food done right with top-notch (but unfussy) ingredients and age-old recipes that prove if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.
El Pirata is open from 12pm to 10pm Tuesday to Saturday, for dine-in, take-away, and delivery.
More info over at www.elpirata.co.uk