A London tapas institution with a loyal following, El Parador is a low-key restaurant that won’t necessarily change the way you think about tapas, but will certainly have you coming back for more. Tables are small and close together, and the terracotta decor has a slightly faded, homely aesthetic. Service was a bit patchy when we dropped by, as the little venue has a family-restaurant feel where the staff aren’t necessarily trying to impress.
The tapas style enables one individual ingredient to be the star of each dish. Hence sea bream was served simply with fennel; merguez sausages were grilled with onions; and broad beans had been whipped into a purée with rosemary and confit garlic. With over 40 tapas to choose from, the menu can seem overwhelming, but the large selection does mean that vegetarians are well catered for – beyond the predictable offering of tortilla. As it happens, the tortilla is very good, with balanced seasoning, a comforting gooey middle and slight sweetness from the onions.
To finish, tarta de santiago was a tad dry, but orange-infused crème caramel provided an enjoyably aromatic detour from a classic Spanish flan.