Geoff and I visited El Castizo one Friday lunchtime at the beginning of May. We weren’t sure if we would be able to get a table so Geoff hovered in the car outside whilst I ran in to see. I liked James the owner straight away, he was friendly and helpful about parking and by calling me ‘young lady’ I liked him even more (actually I was called it twice that week). We were lucky, there were plenty of tables available. It appears perhaps, that evenings are more popular.
Don’t let this put you off mind, we loved the ambience with lively Spanish music being played. The walls are covered in wood panels and white plaster with an arched ceiling giving it a cave-like look. Spanish pictures adorned the walls with Spanish guitars and a few knick-knack items on the shelves. Come evening time with the candles on the table lit it must look very pretty and cosy.
We were recommended between 4-5 dishes between us or 2-3 for a lighter lunch. We went for the former. I mentioned dessert and was told “believe me, you won’t want dessert”. He doesn’t know me 😉
On the table were some green olives – which I’m starting to like, slowly but surely – a basket of fresh sliced white bread and a jug of water.
The first dish to come out, the Chistorra was bubbling away like crazy. The chorizo were cut up into small pieces and weren’t as strong and tangy as some chorizo can be, which is good for me as I find it hurts my mouth when it is. These were perfect.
Tortilla de patata, a Spanish omelette. The potato & onion tortilla went really nice with the chorizo and we dipped it into the juice left from them. This was fresh tasting and light.
Montadito – mushrooms, onion, garlic & spinach in a cream sauce on toasted bread with nutmeg. The mushrooms were my favourite as I adore mushrooms anyway so no surprise there really.
Morcilla con padron – Spanish rice black pudding served with padron peppers & topped with a fried egg. The black pudding was a special and this wasn’t like the black pudding we seem to get here, it looked and had the texture of haggis. It was very nice.
Solomillo al pedro ximenez – pork fillet marinated in PX sherry & pea purée. Another favourite of ours was also a special. The pork was very lean and tender served with a pea purée.
All of these we would be very happy to eat again, although having said that there were other dishes on the menu we would like to go back and try.
Did we have a dessert? You bet we did! We shared both the panna cotta and the creme brûlée. Our favourite was the creme brûlée which was creamy smooth. The panna cotta was okay but not as smooth and I wasn’t so keen on the crumbly topping. I ended up having most of the brûlée instead.
We finished the meal off with an espresso each and chatted to the owner who said that some evenings they have music – which you need to have tickets for and pay a little extra. Some evenings his wife comes out and does a flamenco dance as she is Spanish and also the chef.
I enjoyed a lovely glass of Anares Rioja reserva temperanillo, which was wonderfully smooth, oaky and full bodied. Their wine supplier is Ivy Wines in Emsworth so I shall have to pay them a visit now I’m back from the Chianti region of Italy – a few blog posts on that trip coming soon. Geoff had a bottle of Estrella Damm 1876 craft beer.
I know a friend of mine came one evening and she enjoyed it at El Castizo even though she did mention it was very lively and noisy. One thing’s for sure, we’d definitely like to return. We’ve been to a few tapas restaurants ever since we visited Spain for the first time only two years ago, El Nico’s in Old Portsmouth, Sant-Yago and Koh Thai in Southsea and Annie Jones in Petersfield.
Return? Yes, most definitely!
Overall rating 9/10
Living life, loving tapas, amigos!