El Pirata of Mayfair

5-6 Down Street, London, W1J 7AQ, United Kingdom

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This tapas bar opened in 1994, so given the mayfly-like longevity of many restaurants it has clearly been doing something right for 22 years. The ground floor dining room is supplemented by a basement area and serves conventional tapas dishes.  

The wine list had plenty of Spanish choices but omitted the vintages, something that I find quite irritating, basically assuming that customers are clueless about wine but saving the owners from reprinting the list when the years of the wines actually change. Lealtanza Crianza was £28.50 for a bottle that will set you back about £11 in the high street, Coma Vella from Priorat was £59.95 compared to its retail price of £24, and Clos Fonta from the same area was £123.50 for a wine that will set you back perhaps £60 in a shop, but varies widely in price by vintage, so who knows whether this mystery vintage is fairly priced or not?

We tried a variety of dishes. Chicken croquettas were quite good, with a crisp batter and meat that was not dried out (12/20). Prawns in garlic were cooked in their shells and served in a little iron wok – the shellfish were carefully cooked and had reasonable flavour, enhanced by the garlic sauce (13/20). Chicken with rice was fine, the rice having good texture, the chicken not having a lot of flavour but being properly cooked (12/20).

Deep fried tilapia did not have much flavour though the batter was clean tasting (11/20). Mushrooms in garlic were just button mushrooms that were fried, pleasant but hardly thrilling (11/20). A pair of meatballs had nicely seasoned meat and had reasonably good flavour (12/20). Roast potatoes in onion, garlic and parsley were fine, the potatoes cooked quite well (12/20). 

The bill for two at lunch with still water to drink came to £25 a head. If you shared a bottle of wine then a typical cost per head would be around £55. Service was fine. The meal today was not more than pleasant, though this is a perfectly serviceable restaurant and a useful bolthole these days if you are looking for a relatively affordable meal in increasingly unaffordable Mayfair.

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User comments

  • alan fowle

    This is a restaurant which to me is a bit like andys diwana bhel poori - a place I frequented in my less pecunious days also pre the subsequent spate of spanish tapas joints As Andy says it does the simple things like garlic prawns etc well and this is a place I have a soft spot for -its also rather fun with a lively atmosphere .