Randomness Guide to London - Differences between Version 14 and Version 13 of El Faro, E14 9RD
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I've just eaten at El Faro. In almost all respects it was a great restaurant. And then we were scammed. This is how they do it. The T-Bone steak is listed at £16.95, however, it says £16.95 "per" 500g. When you order it, they show the steak to you and even recommend that you share it with your partner. It seems a fantastic deal. However, when the bill arrives, it turns out the steak that you ordered weighed in at 850 grams. At the price of £16.95 per 500 grams this then costs £28.83. This is a classic scam because when you work out the maths it makes sense. They quoted 16.95 "per 500g", so surely you didn't read it right. Only everthing on the menu and everything on most menu's has the price as you read it. It doesn't require you multiply the figure by the amount you recieve. It is much like if they quoted chips at "£5" and added a "per chip" in the small print. I'm not even that angry about it, I just thought I'd warn anyone who did decide to eat the T-Bone that this is what El Faro will do to you.
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The interior is modern and smart without being fussy. The two-person tables are fairly small, necessitating a fair bit of shuffling if you're having tapas. The main dining area is on the ground floor (toilets are upstairs), but there's another room upstairs which I think you can book, and an outside terrace looking on to the river (although Millwall Dock is perhaps not the most attractive stretch of the Thames).
You can do the full starter-main-dessert thing, or just have tapas. They offer 24-hour roasted suckling pig, flown in from Spain, and the interweb suggest they do good steak - but we've not tried either of these yet, having always gone for the tapas option.
Kake has visited three times now, in various company. A Wednesday evening visit in September 2007 and a Thursday evening visit in December 2007 (both times arriving around 8pm-9pm) gave us no trouble with getting a table for two without booking; however, we were glad that we'd booked for our August 2008 visit (a table for three this time) as although the place was fairly empty when we arrived at 7pm, all the tables we could see had "reserved" signs on, and it filled up pretty quickly.
Dos Hermanos (linked below) rave about the jamon iberico, but despite having tried it on all three visits, Kake remains unimpressed. The tomato-rubbed toast that accompanies it, on the other hand, has always been very good; the price of the ham means that this dish is quite expensive (£14.50), and I do wonder if it would be possible to just get the tomato toast on its own.
Other recommendations from Kake:
- Boquerones (marinated fresh anchovies; £5): fresh, sharp flavour, nothing at all like the salty things in tins.
- Pimientos del padron (tiny roasted green peppers/chillies; £4.50) - but if you're not a fan of chillies, watch out for the occasional spicy one; the nature of these peppers means that a small proportion of them are much hotter than others.
- Croquettes (£3.45): reliably good. We've had mushroom ones and ham ones (ask the staff what's in the croquettes of the day) and both were good, with the mushroom ones perhaps having the edge.
- Pulpo a la Gallega (octopus on potato slices; £5): good, with the potato slices being the perfect contrast to the chewy - but not too chewy - octopus, and a lovely buttery oil drenching the whole.
- Tuna tartare (£7): although it was served a little too cold in December 2007, and had a slightly unwelcome soy sauce flavour in August 2008, it's still good (I'm just being picky).
- Cheese plate (£7.50)
- Pork confit cubes with honey and rosemary (£7, sampled in December 2007): awfully dry.
If going for the tapas option, you probably want between three and five dishes apiece, depending on how hungry you are (Kake and doop had seven plus bread between us; Kake and bob had nine plus bread between us; and Kake, Juliette, and Jon had ten between us, without bread but including an enormous portion of patatas bravas). It's perfectly fine to order a few to begin with and then order more later on.
Service is generally friendly and helpful; they're happy to help you choose wine, and when we decided to finish with some sherry they brought us three samples to help us decide. Jugs of tap water are supplied on request.
Our bill in August 2008 was £45/head - £20 apiece of this was food, and the rest was wine, sherry, and the auto-added but optional 10% service charge.
- Dos Hermanos review
- Time Out review
- London Eating comments
- Matthew Norman review
- londonfood review
- Biggest Jim's review
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