One of the rubbish things about growing up is the absolute bloody nightmare that is present shopping. I mean this of course for other people, because I am a simple soul and the only thing I ever want more of, other than food, is books and my mother has put her foot down. In fact that whole simple soul thing is hereditary and present shopping for my mum is so problematic that I’ve taken to buying her tickets as gifts but there’s only so many times luck will be on my side, theatre wise.
Going for nice meals, though, that’s something my mum and I both agree on – I get tasty food, mum gets to people watch. So when the nice folks at OpenTable asked me to check out their gift card option, I thought it would be a great dry run for present season later in the year. Of course my mum would’ve been the obvious dining companion, but she was on holiday, so I took my friend Andrew.
Naturally we booked through OpenTable, which is both handy and stops me worrying that even though I’ve called the restaurant and they’ve repeated my booking back to me somehow one of us will get the wrong date. OpenTable send you an email, and then a reminder, which makes anxious types like me a lot happier. If you’re buying someone the gift card (which you can buy here) then you have the option to send them the voucher direct – with a nice message from yourself, and they can then go to OpenTable and book a time/date that suits them.
We arrived around 7pm which is probably a touch early for most people to eat dinner on a Friday night, but meant we got our pick of tables and naturally I went for one with the best view of the restaurant – I am my mother’s daughter after all. Even at this time it had a nice relaxed atmosphere, and by 8pm the place was full and buzzing, yet the excellent service remained constant.
El Borracho de Oro has a lovely, relaxed Spanish vibe to the place; terracotta, tiles and lots of yellow and orange hues, without feeling gimmicky…a themed restaurant, without feeling themed, if that makes any sense.
To start Andrew had a pint of Estrella Damm, a lager brewed in Spain, and I went for red wine Sangria, mainly because I’ve had it at El Borracho de Oro before and it’s delightful. Forget the cheap crap you get on holiday which needs diluting, El Borracho’s sangria has a lovely honey-like sweetness with a cheerful red wine flavour and none of the alcoholic burn you get with bad wine. I like it so much had had two…or three.
We ordered a raft of tapas to share, because that’s the fun of tapas, although I remain terrible at photographing it. Some dishes we ordered are, in my mind, tapas staples including jamón croquetas (ham croquettes), albondigas (pork & beef meatballs) and patatas bravas (fried potatoes) with spicy tomato sauce and alioli. The meatballs were a good balance of pork and beef, being meaty without being too dense or tough, and the ham croquettes were crunchy on the outside and melt in the mouth smooth on the inside. I was a little disappointed by the patatas bravas which arrived in a gimmicky frying baskets; I would’ve liked them to be chunkier but they tasted fine. The spicy tomato sauce they arrived with was a bit too much for both me and Andrew, definitely higher on the hot-spicy scale than I’d have expected.
The other dishes we ordered included beef cheek with shallots and mushroom sauce, fried fresh whole whitebait and roasted piquillo pepper stuffed with mushroom, wild spinach and manchego cheese. The beef cheek was an absolute delight, it cut like butter and paired superbly with the mushroom sauce. Equally good were the fried whitebait; El Borracho de Oro had sourced good sized fish which retained a delicate flavour and a light, yet right, amount of batter – I could happily eat a bowlful as a snack.
Pudding was a tricky decision, in the end we went for churros and almond cake. The churros were great, light and somehow simultaneously crispy and chewy without being stodgy – I didn’t try the chocolate sauce that went with it, but I hear it was pretty good. The almond cake was also spot on, full of flavour, moist without being soggy, and worked well with the coulis and ice cream.
And then it was time to try out the OpenTable gift card. I always hate this bit because I’m worried the restaurant will have no idea what you’re on about, but after clicking the link in the email to the card it was a case of showing it to the member of staff and things were done and dusted, and I was free to enjoy my (third) glass of sangria and head off home, happy and full of food.
Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with OpenTable, El Borracho de Oro didn’t know I was there to blog about it and as ever views remain my own. Ps don’t tell my mum otherwise she’ll know what she’s getting for her birthday.