Ladies who Lunch in Mayfair!
Authentic Spanish Tapas for Lunch
El Pirata of Mayfair
El Pirata of Mayfair – an unpretentious and authentic Spanish Tapas bar, hidden away in the heart of smart Mayfair with an amazing atmosphere, friendly staff, delicious & honest food at prices that will make you smile and order another Sangria!
Just over a week ago I visited Spain via Mayfair in London – well, that’s how it felt; the weather was glorious and my walk from Hyde Park Corner tube station to El Pirata was pleasant with a bright blue sky and a warm breeze to help me along my way. I was meeting two friends whom I have met through Twitter and blogging – we were meeting for lunch, hence the ladies who lunch in Mayfair tagline darlinks! Possibly one of the nicest things that has emerged from writing a food blog over the last ten months, is the fact that I have managed to meet so many lovely people through my food writing, as well as from certain social media sites; Fiona from London Unattached and I have met before, and when I knew I was going to be in London, we arranged to meet up again for our usual natter over food and wine! Tracey from Fighting Fifty and I have been gassing on Twitter for a while now, and so it was with great excitement that Fiona and I arranged to meet her too……and so the scene was set for a lovely luncheon party with a summery Fiesta feel.
I hadn’t been to El Pirata before, but Fiona recommended it as a great place for an authentic Tapas lunch at a reasonable price, and the restaurant is also within striking distance of The Royal Academy, where I was hoping to see the David Hockney exhibition, The Bigger Picture after lunch. So, we three ladies all met up at El Pirata at Midday and were welcomed to our seats by a friendly and attentive waitress. My first overall impressions was of a smart and yet not overly pretentious bar-restaurant; there were tables set up for dining outside and the décor inside was Spanish in feel but quite smart as befits the location in one of London’s most exclusive post codes. Sundry prints from all genres of the “Spanish School” adorned the walls and sparkling wine and water glasses were set out on the black table clothes with crisp white napkins.
The menu suggested tapas of all sorts, and there were several “menu” options where drinks and certain choices from the menu were available as a complete package, however, the menu that stood out for me was the very reasonably priced Set Lunch Menu at only £10.25 per person, to include a glass of wine (or beer or a soft drink), bread, alioli and two tapas choices from the menu.
We decided to choose six different items and share them amongst the three of us – in the true manner tapas eating; we also all went for a glass of wine too! Whilst we were deciding what to choose from the menu, a pleasant complimentary dish of Iberico ham and char-grilled Padron peppers were set before us with a bowl of alioli and a basket of bread…….which aided our menu choices immensely. The ham was salty and nutty, whilst the peppers were wonderfully charred on the onside and just “popped” in your mouth on eating them……liberal amounts of pungent alioli were used for pepper and bread dunking and I felt a very mellow luncheon mood take over the table.
Our six menu choices from the set menu were:
Montaditos de jamon Serrano ~ toasted bread with olive oil & fresh tomatoes topped with Serrano ham
Pescaito frito ~ deep-fried marinated fish (which was Hake)
Pollo al ajillo ~ pan-fried chicken in garlic, parsley & olive oil
Chorizo al vino – Spanish sausage in a red wine sauce
Habas con jamón ~ pan-fried broad beans with olive oil and Serrano ham
Patatas bravas ~ deep-fried potatoes in chilli & garlic sauce
Each tapa was served separately, in the manner of genuine tapas in Spain, and by friendly and helpful staff. The food was served simply in terracotta bowls and on white plates, and our bread basket was topped up regularly. The food was unpretentious and hearty with lots of garlic and chilli, but well prepared and nicely cooked. This is NOT “cheffy” or “messed about” food, but was hearty and honest fare with the emphasis on authentic Spanish home-style cooking, something that is rarer than hen’s teeth to find in some big “foodie” cities nowadays. The price was excellent for the meal that we received and the staff were attentive without being at your shoulder all the time. By the time we had been there for half an hour, the restaurant and bar were full and the atmosphere was vibrant and buzzing with diner’s conversation, whilst tempting aromas wafted about as endless tapas dishes were served.
Tracey, Fiona and I finished off our meal with a cup of coffee; the dessert menu was offered but we were all full, but I did notice that the dessert menu had some lovely Spanish classics such as: FLAN, ARROZ CON LECHE, CREMA CATALANA as well as TABLA DE QUESOS Y MEMBRILLO on offer, and I wished I had had room for the cheese board with Membrillo, but another time. With thanks to El Pirata who unexpectedly paid or our bill; regardless of this, my opinions and review remain unchanged by this fact. This is truly a Spanish oasis hidden away in a well-heeled part of smart Mayfair, and I recommend El Pirata for an authentic and well priced lunch. El Pirata is open for lunch Monday to Friday from 12 Noon to 3pm, and it is located at 5 – 6 Down Street, Mayfair, London W1J 7AQ. Reservations are recommended for the busy lunchtime period.