El Puerto: A tapas mission…

I have recently been inflicted by the increasingly common Groupon and LivingSocial addiction (I realise there are other perfectly good deal sites out there however it is not safe to add any more temptations to my email inbox). The addiction has reached such heights (I had a particularly extravagant month that meant eating became a bit of a luxury outside the deals) that I have now had to enforce a rule on myself that I must have used the current voucher before purchasing another – no matter how great a bargain it is and how wonderful the seven course taster menu may sound. I am sure I am not alone in this plight and welcome any support to get me through the times when I have to say no in the future.

It is this addiction that brought me to El Puertos for a 16 tapas taster menu, with wine, champagne and desserts thrown in. On original purchase I was particularly excited about this purchase. I have previously had wonderful experiences in this little cave-like spanish restaurant on Prince Street, celebrating with vast jugs of sangria. Having always been in large groups in my past visits I have also been rather impressed with their ability to cater for big numbers with lots of delicious spanish delights arriving all at the same time. Furthermore, I have a very healthy appetite to take on this challenge – in fact in a conversation just today a friend noted “It takes a lot to make Kirsty full!” Haha! However, it saddens me to say I was somewhat disappointed with this experience. 😦

I shall set the scene to explain why as it is only on rare occasions that I do not leave a restaurant talking enthusiastically about the experience…The two of us were sat down and I popped the voucher on the table, mainly as a reminder to myself to mention it to the waitress. What I was not expecting was for it to become a prompt to the waitress to, rather than the usual friendly greeting, look at the voucher and walk straight off (which turned out to be fetch the welcome champagne) without a single word. Maybe I have particularly high expectations. Having been a waitress myself through the student days I took a lot of pride in the effect of a simple smile to my customers. Unfortunately, this rather unfriendly approach continued throughout the meal as plates of food were popped on our table with not even a helpful little explanation as to what we were receiving. The only communication was asking whether we would like red or white wine at the beginning. The food was nice, but I would say did not meet the standards of the usual menu; which is disappointing as you would hope these vouchers would be used by restaurants as a great opportunity to sell the experience and get people to return. It also, unfortunately for my dining companion, had a plateful of a variety of mushroom dishes. As I very much dislike mushrooms (I have tried in all forms) she had to plough through the lot of them; coining a whole new affliction as a result: “mushroom sweats”. The night generally turned into a bit of a mission eat rather than an enjoyable experience.

The whole experience saddened me as I have had such a wonderful time before and have often recommended to friends. I very much hope this was just a blip…

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