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Feature
| Kerene Barefield

El Norte, a New Star in London’s Culinary Scene

This week I was lucky enough to be invited to visit a brand new restaurant in London’s swanky Mayfair, just three days after it opened its doors. A first for London’s Spanish restaurant scene, El Norte has taken its cues from the country’s rich culinary regions, offering a sharing style menu of traditional Spanish dishes with a modern and luxury twist.

The restaurant is perhaps the most ambitious endeavour so far from the acclaimed Spanish brothers, Alberto and Arian, who co-founded Emerald Hospitality Group, which include in their portfolio the modern Latin American restaurant, Zuaya, and more recently their acclaimed Italian restaurant, Como Garden for which you can read my review.

The brothers are known for fusing excellent food with striking design, and El Norte did not disappoint. The interior was sleek and inviting, with cream leather seating and marble tables each dressed with a large traditional Spanish lamp. We were greeted straight away on entering the restaurant, our coats and bags were swiftly taken from us and we were seated at one of the gorgeous cream tables. I didn’t know what to expect with the restaurant being so new, you could still smell the freshly laid carpets, but it wasn’t long before other couples and groups started filling the empty seats around us and you suddenly understood the vibe that this restaurant was all about.

The location on Mayfair’s Dover Street is prime estate, and the perfect position for a special night out or food with friends. The size of the restaurant has not only allowed for a very spacious dining area but also a separate bar which is perfect for a pre-dinner drink – which any of my followers will know was obviously a cocktail. Now talking of El Norte’s selection of cocktails, this is a very unique selection. There is everything from Cotton Candy Champagne and Toffee Espresso Martini to a Pistachio Mojito and Smoked Bacon Old Fashioned. After lots of consideration I settled on a Chamomile Martini, which included rum infused Chamomile Martini, Triple Sec, Honey Syrup and Lime, which was gorgeously sweet and presented perfectly. A dedicated Sangria menu has also been lovingly crafted and comprises the revered Spanish beverage in its traditional form, alongside unique interpretations including Lavender Sangria.

The menu is split into sections and features para picar (nibbles), ensaladas and crudos (salads and raw dishes), vegetales de temporada (seasonal vegetables), carnes (meat and poultry), pescados y mariscos (fish and seafood), and para acompañar (sides). The El Norte team works closely with several Spanish suppliers to source the finest ingredients. For example, the steak is from Spanish cows (Rubia Gallega) that are over eight years old and from Galicia in northwestern Spain, whilst the olives and olive oil are procured from Córdoba, and the ripest tomatoes derived from Andalucía in southern Spain. Alberto and Arian, were born in Madrid, and this menu definitely gives visitors a taste of their motherland with dishes exemplifying the brothers’ bold approach to flavours and textures.

After exploring the menu we finally decided on the Salted and Lime Padron Peppers, Red Prawn Tartare with Lime Olive Oil, Goats Cheese and Fig Salad with Honey, Beef Fillet with Foie Gras and PX sauce, Galician Grilled Octopus, Tender Potatoes and Sweet Paprika and Grilled Green Asparagus with Almond Sauce. The food came out of the kitchen when it was ready and we shared each dish. The Goats Cheese Salad and Octopus is a must have, I adored the sweetness of the figs and the octopus was perfectly tender. The dishes were large and we had probably ordered one to many, leaving not enough room for dessert. We ordered the Churros with Chocolate and Hot Coulant of White Chocolate and Pistachio, both were extremely tasty and I should have asked to take home what we didn’t manage to eat.

I feel excited to have been able to have visited this restaurant at the start of its journey and I hope it continues to thrive. The service was impeccable, the food was delicious, the drinks brilliantly surprising and the location classy. El Norte is undoubtedly poised to become a new star in London’s dining scene.

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