A while back I read James Ramsden’s review of El Parador. When I realised it was just around the corner from me, I wondered why I had never been before!
I’d recently had a very disappointing tapas experience at a North-West London establishment that shall remain nameless. It involved the worst tortilla I had ever tasted (battery egg and mushy potato) and a surly waitress – though in her defence, it was possibly not the best idea to go to a Spanish restaurant on the night of the World Cup final. But one doesn’t always think of these things when one is not a rabid sports fan.
Sports have no place on this blog, so back to tapas: it took me all of five minutes to walk up to Mornington Crescent, where I met visiting friends Claire and Dave from New Zealand. El Parador was just around the corner on Eversholt Street. This is possibly why I had not discovered it before – I generally take a shortcut home before I get up to the part of the street containing El Parador. Despite having lived around the corner for two years, I don’t think I’d ever walked down that stretch of the road before.
The weather gods were being kind so we decided to sit outside in the garden. This meant having to go downstairs and then upstairs again to get there but with its laid-back vibe it was the perfect spot to while away a summer evening.
The menu is quite extensive, and there was also a blackboard menu of daily specials to choose from. I don’t like having lots to choose from as it makes me feel like I’m missing out on other potentially delicious options, and so many dishes appealed. We each chose two dishes, plus the pure de habas:
The pure de habas – broad bean puree – tasted how it looks, so fresh and green, with garlic and rosemary. It’s worth going back for this alone.
We played the obligatory Russian roulette with the padron peppers and each of us ended up with a hot one. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t cope very well with mine – where did my chilli tolerance disappear to?
Unfortunately the photos are a bit blurry as I took them with my mobile, but those are baby squid in the background. Those were my two choices and I didn’t regret them a bit.
Dave chose two dishes from the daily specials menu. This tomato, capsicum and aubergine dish tasted very good, sort of a Spanish ratatouille. And this fish was absolutely divine:
Claire went with a couple of classics, patatas bravas and empanadillas:
Classics are classics for a reason. Do them well and you can do anything. I always judge a pizza place by its Margherita and I judge a tapas place by its tortilla (see above). We didn’t get the tortilla this time but the patatas bravas were pretty good. I think they could have done with a bit more spice but then after eating the hot padron pepper I didn’t really care.
We looked at the dessert menu but nothing really appealed. That’s not the sort of thing I mind though, being more of a savoury person.
I actually can’t believe I haven’t been back to El Parador since this visit. I will definitely have to round up some friends or flatmates and go back there. Eventually I will work my way through the menu there.