El Piratas de Tapas, Westbourne Grove/Bayswater, London
Outstanding stuff. Every dish with the right intensity or nuance of flavour, perfect textures.
Octopus carpaccio - a subtle meaty texture to the octopus, but also exceptionally tender. Perfect balance of richness and acidity - a gentle gloss of oil olive against the light bursts of citrus from clementine "caviar" and deep sour of capers. Hint of sweetness and spice from paprika. One of the best octopus dishes I've had in a long time.
Within the croqueta, judicious bits of serrano in a creamy richness, perfect for the nuanced interplay of ham and cheese. A light crisp surface, elegantly golden brown.
Black rice in squid ink is precisely cooked, each nub of rice soft on the outside, with a lovely resistance within, and suffused with a wonderful oceany flavour, reinforced by succulent pieces of squid and a lovely starchy thickness that cloaks the rice. Resplendent.
Pork cheeks easily tease apart to amazingly tender, moist fibres, full of good porky flavour, enhanced by a suave sangria reduction with just the right thick and sticky consistency, bringing to bear the fruit and the complexity of red wine against the pork. Beautiful jersey royals in attendance. I liked this way more than the pork belly with rosemary beans at Salt Yard.
The tortilla showcases artful technique, the outside crisp, the interiors just barely runny, giving off a shiny richness, the near liquid egg coating each bite, without being oozy or drippy (contrast with the one I had at Barrafina, where the egg was too runny, and just leaked all over the place when I cut into the tortilla). A very garlicky aioli, but also very mellow in flavour (roasted garlic?), another brilliant example of the kitchens skill in coaxing out delicious flavours, even from humble ingredients. Admittedly, there's a part of me that likes the ones at Moro a touch more, even though they're texturally less perfect, because of the savoury sweet onion jam, but this rendition is superb by all accounts.
Creme catalana, a cloud of cream, a denser richer liquid, a breeze of sweet fruit (orange caramel?), and crunchy sweet sugared crumbs on top.
An elegant Muga Rose made with Grenacha, light berry tang, steel backbone, poised and balanced.
Some of the best tapas I've had in London. Although there were one or two excellent dishes at several of the other tapas places I've been to here, this was probably the best all round experience for me from dish to dish.
we went at the weekend having heard rave reviews on here and while the food was good i don't think it was anything amazing and certainly wouldn't put it in the league of somewhere like barrafina.
we had the tasting menu:
*bread & alioli - i'd have liked more of a garlic kick to the alioli
*selection of iberian cured meats - decent enough but nothing special
*paprika crispy fried squid - good batter and tender squid, i liked the dusting of paprika
*serrano ham croquettes
*pisto, slow cooked vegetable stew - this was suprisingly good as so often it's a filler dish
*six hours roasted pork belly, red wine pear & parsnip puree - disappointing, the pork ddn't have much flavour at all
*fried new potatoes with mojo picon - wonderful, esp the mojo picon
*grilled chorizo - really excellent, thin slices with nice crispy charred bits, good amount of spice too
*rice pudding & caramelized crispies - rice pudding was excellent but the rice crispies made it too sweet for my taste. my bf was more than happy with both sets of crispies though!
i drank the muga rose as well, which i agree was excellent! (does anyone know of a decent specialist spanish wine stockist?)
re: abby d
This menu looks great and we live just a few blocks away. Do you think bringing kids in, for an early dinner, would be acceptable? Or not appropriate for this place. We understand the difference. :)
And Limster - great to see you on this board. We followed your trails religiously in Boston a few years ago.
I have to agree
took a couple of friends last week and i have to say it was absolutely outstanding
we had the basque menu for three and ordered the paella, selection of iberian cured meats and the tortilla in addition
the tortilla was brilliant - have to agree with you there limster - perfectly runny inside, but not too runny, the egg still slowly cooking as it sat on the table
unfortunately the mixed paella was a little dry and had no meat or seafood except for chicken... not that there was a skerrick left!
the basque menu was 20pounds a head - I wish I could remember all the dishes, the highlights were red kidney beans with black pudding, black rice in cuttlefish ink, grilled eel in lots and lots of oil (needed a second serve of bread and aioli to mop up the oil), cod with salsa verde, mussel croquettes, grilled asparagus
it was incredibly good - and filling
for dessert we had a goats yoghurt with honey as part of the tasting menu and then (shamefully) had the crema catalana because the meal was so good we didn't want to stop - it was worth it
well done limster!
another huge plus is that the coffee is amongst the best i've had in london. there is sooo much love and care lavished here, i fear that its impossible to keep up. for instance - the bread that comes with the aioli gets wolfed down in about two nano seconds after it hits the table. i'm very glad to see that they are still on their game.