Bellies a’rumbling, clocks a’chiming we made our way into the night, in search for the gastronomic experience that would have us ascending into ecstasy. The streets were buzzing with activity, office suits plied with sweet offerings of alcohol as they swigged beer outside swanky bars, with their eyes firmly transfixed on the watches that adorned their hands like fashion statements. And as the clock struck seven, our location was found, El Pirata In Mayfair, whose ‘Spanish Cuisine’ had been calling our name, since our food adventure had begun. Like other Mayfair gastronomy hubs, the restaurant was filled with warm bodies, who clinked glasses with a merry twinkle in their eye and tucked into sharing plates with gusto and aplomb. We sat without grace, eager to rip into the menu, a vegetarian and a meat eater, come together as one. The night was laced with promise and delight and the smell of good food wafted underneath our nostrils like an aphrodisiac or drug. It was sensual, dark, mystical and seductive, as was the menu, padron peppers laced with rock salt, fritattas too, a mocktail begging to be drunk, refreshing in the mouth to boot.
We were never one to share our food, but the tapas experience at El Pirata made us change our mind, delightful portions of deliciousness that we had to share with each other, to demonstrate ‘said deliciousness’. The appetizers danced before our very own eyes, soft plump pan con ali-oli , swimming in a foodgasmic garlic dip that melted in our mouths in one swift gulp. Hungrily we tore through the bread basket as our starters came two by two, four by four; tortilla spanish omelette with potatoes & onions, cooked in a blend of simple spices, juxtaposed against the sea salt of the padron peppers from ‘Galica’ which slid down our throats with ease.
But it was the pan con tomate/ajo which stole our hearts, a toasted bread topped with fresh tomato, olive & garlic that felt as though it had been kissed by the gods themselves. We sank into a stupor of food, mesmerized by the beautiful presentation of the tapas dishes, vegetarian for me and ‘meat’ for Marie, whose food was an eclectic blend of traditional Spanish Fare. Calamares a la romana danced on a fire of heat, deep fried squid challenging the infamous Chorizo al vino, a Spanish Sausage that plunged into red wine sauce, as it escaped its prey. But it was the croquetas de jamon Iberico Iberian Jam Croquettes that El Pirata called ‘Spain’s National Treasure’, but being vegetarian I was inclined to disagree, mesmerized by the ‘chef special off the menu veggie surprise’, artichokes tenderly cooked in a caramel balsamic glaze, chewed delicately as I savored each mouthful with gluttonous greed. The patatas bravas were next to savour, deep-fried potatoes in chilli & garlic sauce, that packed plenty of heat and flavour, washed down with mocktails that were made especially for me. Berries crushed in ice and water, Cosmopolitans for Marie, we sipped through our drinks, refreshing and sweet, until all that was left was a small block of ice, gently melting into a small puddle at the bottom of the cup.
Our lips were licked, our stomachs protruding, but there was still room for more. The plates were cleared two by two, four by four, the desserts were brought to the table; a creme brulee for me and a sacher de chocolate for Marie. I fancied myself somewhat of a ‘creme brulee connoisseur’ delving into its crunchy caramelized topping which exposed a layer of yellow pudding, and while it was not the best I had tried, it was palatable, while Marie devoured her homemade chocolate cake with gusto, served with vanilla ice cream that slid enticingly down the cake, in a seductive dance of passion. But undoubtedly it was the tapas dishes that were clearly a signature of El Pirata cuisine, the padron peppers and tomato and garlic topped bread that won the day for me, fresh seasoned dishes that were so refreshingly different from the ‘Mayfair-rian’ food chain, that I had tried before. Our night was coming to an end but the restaurant was still alive with activity, as the world went round and round in a seductive food bubble that for one night only we had been part of.
We bid our goodbyes and waved to the servers who had made our night happen, the waiters and the manager who attended to our every needs. They smiled with genuine delight and the joy was etched into their faces as they interacted with the customers having a jolly knees up, taking the time to chat to everyone and offer them the wonderful Mediterranean hospitality that I love so dearly. I appreciated how they made sure they would only bring foods to me that were attuned to my dietary needs and was pleasantly satisfied with their desire to make sure that I would not be exposed to the foods that I was allergic to, which not all restaurants bother to pay the same attention to detail. The sky was ink black and the air was chilled, smiling we left the door behind us, glancing over at El Pirata once last time, promising that yes we would be back and yes we would eat like we had never eaten before. Our secret was out but the Spanish cuisine still lingered in our minds days later, entranced by the sea of vivid greens and reds that permeated our plates in a mesmerizing haze. We will be back.
We were given complimentary meals in exchange for this post but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by monetary compensation. I should also point out that despite being very sick at this restaurant, I still managed to enjoy the food and service and hospitality was wonderful. Definitely one of the best Spanish Tapas restaurants that I have had to date and if anyone would like to send more food my way , please feel free. I am always HUNGRY!