El Pirata Detapas

115 Westbourne Grove, London, England, W2 4UP, United Kingdom

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El Pirata Detapas is spread over a ground floor and basement, where we were seated tonight. The basement room had attractive black and red curtains on one wall and a display case of four hams hanging on another wall. Chef Omar Allibhoy has worked at El Bulli, but the menu is quite conventional, tapas style.

The wine list has some lovely Spanish choices. Castilla y Leon Abadia Retuerta 2007 was priced at £47 for a wine that costs about £15 retail, Marques de Riscal Reserva 2005 was £36 for a wine that has a retail price of around £14, while Clos Fonta Priorat 2004 was £92 compared to a shop price of around £45, and at the high end of the list Aro Muga Gran Reserva 2004 was £240 for a wine that will set you back around £172 retail. We drank Marques de Caceres Gran Reserva 2001, priced at £49 compared to a shop price of about £16.

Slices of ordinary white bread were served with a garlic dip. A plate of Joselito gran reserva bellota pata negra (£18) was carefully and thinly sliced, the flavour superb as you would expect from one of the very top producers of pata negra. I never really know how to score a dish like this, which is just the result of careful shopping and carving, but it was certainly lovely.

Seared scallops (£6.50) were served on a black slate with artichoke hearts and Iberian meat roulade. The scallops had the coral left on and were of adequate rather than high quality, cooked for a fraction longer than ideal; however the artichoke hearts were very good, and there was a pleasant if slightly sweet sauce with the scallops (13/20). Prawns in olive garlic and chilli (£6.50) were surprisingly bland, the prawns a little overcooked, while some seasoning would not have gone amiss (11/20). By contrast mojo picon potatoes (£3) were well cooked and had a pleasantly spicy sauce (13/20).

Croquettes of piquillo peppers and smoky Idiazabal cheese (£4) were excellent, carefully deep fried with a crisp outer coating and a nice blend of flavours from the peppers and cheese (14/20). Seafood paella (£24.50) was made with squid, mussels and a few shrimps, plus bell peppers; the rice had good flavour and texture, and the main issue for me was a lack of seasoning (13/20).

For dessert, creme Catalan was reasonable if very rich (12/20) while roasted apple and apple compote with custard had a rather hard outside, and custard that had decent texture but did not have much vanilla taste (12/20). The bill two was £81 each, which was hardly cheap but did include pata negra and a nice bottle of wine. Our waitress, Asun, was really excellent: attentive, friendly and efficient. Although this is not cheap, the food was capable and the atmosphere and service very enjoyable; the place was packed out on the evening of our visit.


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