A LUNCHTIME refuelling session became a belated 60th birthday celebration when myself and my parents stopped off for some tapas at El Torero, which is nestled down the cobbled street of Milburn House Side in Newcastle.
The parents had recently returned from a trip to Barcelona, and had raved about the tapas, even my vegetarian dad, who often finds difficulties finding cuisines which offer a wide range of choices for him.
So the pressure was on for El Torero to deliver some authentic Spanish flavours and a good selection of tasty veggie dishes fit for my dad’s 60th birthday lunch.
We ordered three plates each and they came out as and when they were ready, which I thought was a testament to their freshness.
Amongst the nine dishes were chorizo cooked in wine. The spicy sausage was rich and meaty, the sauce was quite heavy, but the paprika provided a feisty hit against the intensity of the dish.
Prawns in garlic were tender and juicy and the calamari was fresh, but slightly overcooked, the texture was a little rubbery.
A dish of giant meatballs in a sweet tomato sauce were tender and lightly spiced. The sauce was particularly good and my mum and I mopped it all up with bread.
Amongst the vegetarian offerings was a giant mound of papas a lo pobre, potatoes cooked with onions and peppers, and even after the three of us had attacked them, there were still a few left.
Chickpeas cooked with cumin and vegetables were full of flavour and was one of my favourite plates. Estofado de verduras con nata, vegetables cooked in cream and chilli, were tasty and perfectly cooked.
The whole hog was a bit of a steal as well. Nine dishes, a basket of bread and a couple of bottles of beer came to just under £50.
I’ve always found tapas to be quite oily and heavy, and although the dishes were packed with flavour, they were a bit on the rich side for my taste, but of a much higher standard than any other tapas restaurant I’ve been to.
My parents, and new tapas experts, were however, deeply sated and said it was up there with some of the meals they had sampled in Barcelona.