Looking for a fun first date? Then head to El Norte in Mayfair. Every Friday the luxury Spanish restaurant hosts ‘La Fiesta’, parties that will get your weekend started. La Fiesta promises a fun, unforgettable experience for diners who can expect to party the night away as they indulge in authentic Spanish tapas and bottomless sangria or cava and dance alongside Spanish dancers.
The restaurant is the third venture from Madrid-born twin restaurateurs Arian and Alberto Zandi, who already own Latin-American restaurant Zuaya and Italian restaurant Como Garden both on Kensington High Street.
There’s a great buzz and atmosphere around the restaurant on a Friday evening. With a long bar to the right of the restaurant, it’s ideal for pre-dinner drinks. There’s a dedicated Sangria menu and an extensive cocktail list which includes all the classics as well as some must try Spanish sips like the Agua de Valencia, a blend of gin, vodka, orange juice and Cava. Light and refreshing it will transport you to Paseo Marítimo. The main restaurant opens to a much wider space and a show stopping wine display runs across the back wall, housing hundreds of award-winning bottles. Tasselled lamps adorn cosy tables for two, chestnut walls and paisley embossed banquettes give it a grown up and sophisticated edge. El Norte manages to strike a delicate balance between upscale and inviting, where you can enjoy fine dining without feeling out of place.
We started our evening with a glass of Alberino and a selection of nibbles. To be honest I could have quite happily dined on their small plates. The menu is full of classic tapas staples, and we went for the Padron Peppers, Bombon De Pollo and Croqueta de Jamon. All of which were delicious.
In between courses the fiesta kicked off with traditional Spanish dancers taking to the floor and shaking their maracas. You can sit back and soak up the entertainment or dial the party up a notch by getting on your feet and having a slice of the flamenco fun. I opted for the latter.
As a paella enthusiast, I am always on the hunt for the ultimate serving that will transport me to the beaches of Andalucía and deliver a taste of Spain. My waitress told me the seafood paella is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. While the flavours were great it was light on seafood and didn’t reflect the £94 price tag.
The dessert menu at El Norte has plenty to satisfy a sweet tooth. I couldn’t resist the Churros con Chocolate, a classic Spanish treat. The churros were perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, served with a rich and velvety chocolate sauce for dipping. It was a sweet ending to a fun night.
Be warned it’s pricey here, so your date needs to be someone you are out to impress or is prepared to go Dutch on the bill. Expect to pay for the Mayfair location, starters come in around £10-15 and the Paella will set you back £94. For an additional £29 per person, diners can sip on bottomless sangria or cava for two hours.