El Norte on Dover Street is Mayfair’s latest must-visit restaurant. Offering up irresistible plates of Spanish sharer style dishes, the food is a fresh take on tapas with a high end twist, in a luxurious setting.
With an inviting bar area to the right hand side, the restaurant occupies a narrow space on the left which opens up to a much wider space at the back – showcasing an eye catching wine display wall housing hundreds of award-winning bottles.
The design itself is a mixture of Basque country and art-deco in earthy tones. Low level lighting from tasseled lamps heightens the sultry mood and highlights the wall and ceiling panels embellished with stretched fabrics in authentic patterns.
With plenty of greenery courtesy of the plants and shrubs dotted through El Norte, it’s a design feature reminiscent of the Zandi brother’s other restaurants Como Garden and Zuaya. This restaurant, their third, is their first Spanish venture bringing traditional dishes from ‘the north’ (El Norte), to London’s foodie scene.
With the menu split up into starters and mains, salads and vegetables, the absolute must-order at El Norte is the Tortilla de Trufa (£22). With the eggs having mopped up all of the flavour and seasoning – each bite tantalizes the tastebuds. The wild mushrooms taste meaty and earthy, while the manchego cheese offers up that incredibly intense distinct flavour, perfectly complimenting the woody, nutty notes of the black truffle.
Another stand-out starter is the Berenjenas Crunjientes con Miel y Feta (£14) – a dreamy dish with pulpy oil soaked aubergine glistening in a crispy coating, drizzled with honey over warm crumbly feta. The explosion of complimenting flavours – salty, sweet, with nut and caramel was something else!
From the mains, we marvelled at tenderised and chargrilled octopus (Pulpo a la Brasa – £27) juicy and delicious in an addictive pepper sauce with gorgeous smoky notes. For the carnivores, we’d recommend Pluma de Cerdo Iberico Glaseada (£34) – glazed Iberian pork served with potatoes. Iberian pork is something rather special and has a unique nutty flavour oweing to the pig’s diet. It’s higher than average fat content also means it can be cured for longer so you get a more complex taste which is just divine when combined with the Baharat seasoning (cumin, paprika and peppers).
With a range of gorgeous fresh salads and beautifully cooked veg (we loved the goats cheese and fig salad with honey and baby artichokes), El Norte truly is a gastronomic delight. This is a restaurant you can definitely get dressed up for and with a DJ playing electro beats and up tempo Spanish tracks late into the evening, there’s a really cool vibe. Open until 00:30 Sundays to Thursdays and 01:30 on the weekends, you might end up spending longer here than you intended – especially as there’s an incredible cocktail and sangria list to work through! Our go-to drink? Well it just has to be the Smoked Bacon Old Fashioned with Rye Whiskey and chocolate bitters.