El Norte adds new exciting dishes to their menu to get the La Fiesta party started.

El Norte has been running La Fiesta parties since end of September now. Each Friday evening the restaurant puts on its dancing shoes to party along a talented team of dancers.

We did too as we dug into the new winter menu and sangria while watching La Fiesta. It’s quite a theatrical performance, created by one gentleman and two ladies who sing and dance in changing genres and outfits.

At the end you even get to do a bit of dancing with them, a much needed bit of exercise given the many dishes we sampled there.

We were torn on the decision as is usual in Spanish restaurants. Do you do paella or tapas?

Paellas are delicious but always filling and as a Spanish couple once told me during my business trip somewhere along the cost of Barcelona “always drink wine with paella, never water” (for obvious reasons, rice expands) and they were both doctors.

So on doctors’ orders we start with exactly that, well almost. A cocktail Pistachio Mojito for my guest and red Sangria for me. The Mojito deserves a special mention, it’s not like a regular clear zesty one. This one is creamy but still light enough not to be a dessert.

The tapas list is extensive at El Norte and it is a higher end restaurant, meaning the ingredients are on the fancier side. Think beef tartar on a brioche, red prawn tartare with truffle burrata and wagyu beef short rib bao to name a few.

The minute I spotted tuna tartare my first choice was made. There is an option of tuna tartare with sweet tomato or on a brioche. But my guest went for a beef version with brioche so I go for the former.

I always favour raw fish less than raw meat but I still reach out for a bit of my guest’s dish, it’s good, just piquant enough to allow the meat flavour to shine. The meat cubes sit comfortably on the brioche, which looks like one of those milk breads so popular on Hong Kong and Japanese Instavideos.

This one has a lovely crust though with the same milk bread air texture and softness inside.  I prefer the tuna, the red sweet tomato sauce compliments the tuna very well.

When I’m in Spain on holidays tuna tartar is a must daily for me, a bit like ice cream for other holiday makers. I get used to the quality there and then really miss it in England, decent tuna is hard to come by here.

El Norte does justice to the Spanish tuna dish though, shame the portion is not as generous. It disappears within a minute.  We also share the traditional Spanish omelette with the runny centre just like it should be and croquettes.

One of each flavour – the goat cheese, pistachio and honey and the more traditional ham croquette. These croquettes are one of the best I’ve tried in the UK, especially the goat cheese one.

I have a soft spot for goat cheese flavoured dishes in general, something my guest is not so fond of. If you’re like me definitely give these a try.

Both croquettes are quite chunky providing plenty of space for the creamy filling wrapped in crispy coating.

For mains it’s Iberian pluma glazed pork for me, extremely tender, almost melting in my mouth and actually a very good portion at £29. The sweetness of the meat is complimented well by a little tart and earthy celeriac puree. 

While my plus one orders a beef fillet with foie gras and roasted almonds. It’s a medallion shaped steak with subtle foie gras notes, a smaller size, especially compared to my main at £34.

Our side is sautéed spinach with raisins and manchego, another highlight for me. A unique combination of rich chlorophyll notes in spinach and sweetness of the raisins. I’m inspired and I’ll be copping that recipe idea for my home cooking for sure.

We save space for desserts, it’s truffle and manchego cheesecake for me, as with tuna tartar the Spanish really know their cheesecakes. They’re different there, often made with regional goats or sheep’s milk or cheese and often runny in the middle and slightly burnt at the top.

Like the tuna tartar that’s very much my thing while in Spain and here in the UK whenever I spot one on a menu. I’m not disappointed with my choice, it has that runny middle, cheesy tart and salty notes but also sweet.

My guest’s dessert picture is not included, it’s one of those viral Instagramable spheres, where hot sauce is poured on top revealing chestnut toffee mouse. It’s great as a video but not so much as a picture.

My guest digs into the melted sphere with a happy face on, a good sign. I don’t particularly like chestnuts nor toffee so I don’t get involved.

We both leave satisfied, danced and well fed with a realisation that we don’t share the same taste palette when it comes to Spanish cuisine but it’s not an issue at El Norte because the menu accommodates all preferences.

With compact dishes and cocktails priced at £19 pounds El Norte is possibly not for everyday dining but rather a special occasion with dishes and cozy setting you won’t regret.  

La Fiesta every friday evening till late. Bottomless premium Sangria or Cava £29pp.

El Norte, 19-20 Dover St, London W1S 4LU