El Borracho De Oro
Welcome gang to the 1st official review from me, Tim Phedon, well Feedtim really. In any case Tim’s getting fed.
I have no concrete plan as to how these restaurant reviews will develop, but for the time being I intend to write concise pieces as a guide from my experience eating out at any Mediterranean themed restaurant that I happen to find myself eating at. Many of these reviews will be written from where I spend much of my time in Birmingham & London, but there is no geographical limit. Please do comment with any feedback or particular details you would like me to consider in future reviews. I will endeavour to feed your minds the best way I can.
I begin with El Borracho de Oro (literally ‘The Golden Drunk’) in Edgbaston, Birmingham. After arriving back from Andalucía from a short trip to shoot some videos for Feedtim (out in September), I was eating tapas the day after. This wasn’t the first time either: the last 3 times I have returned from Spain (including after a 3 month stay) I found myself eating at a Spanish restaurant the following day. In any case, I ain’t complaining.
Initial vibes & atmosphere
El Borracho de Oro is definitely out to remind you of its Spanish theme. I won’t lie that I was unsure about coming here because I thought the outside (with each window spelling out words like ‘Tapas,’ ‘Cerveza’ & ‘Bar’) making it look a bit tacky. You walk in, and yes there’s plenty of tiles and a statue of a golden bull by the bar. But I liked it. It felt warm, inviting and also very comfortable. I liked the framed memorabilia of Spanish bullfighters on the walls as well a line of dried chillies hanging around the bar. These were nice touches.
It’s a restaurant with plenty of space. I don’t think I’ve been to a restaurant where there has been so much space left between each table (sometimes I forgot I was eating at a restaurant). The tables themselves are nicely rustic and haven’t been glossed up with a load of varnish but kept simple and homely. You can definitely feel the Spanish vibes about, but I didn’t feel it was overdone. They perhaps overdid the Spanish pop blaring from the speakers however. I feel something more traditional, like flamenco, would have complemented the restaurant's style more.
A nice selection. The drinks menu is informative regarding the origin of each wine (mainly from DO’s all over Spain with a few from Argentina and California) its grape variety and the Bodega it comes from. There’s certainly a strong selection of wines to choose from, whether red, white, rosé or sparkling. But, as soon as I saw that sherry was on offer, there was no other option (#sherrylover). Dad and I ordered a Fino, and it was served as it should always be served, chilled. There was also the option of Oloroso sherry which is best paired when eating cured and red meats and a range of sweet Pedro Ximénez sherries to cater to the English palate (with many still mislabelling sherry as a solely sweet wine. I intend to change this). I was also pleasantly surprised to see that Estrella Galícia was the draught on tap, a more authentic option.
Food – 5/10
Food on the whole was fairly good, but there wasn’t a dish that blew me away. I must be open-minded after just returning from Spain, since it’s challenging for a Spanish restaurant to compete with its equivalent in the motherland. Unfortunately it was a bit disappointing from the start since many of the dishes that I was excited to try were not available. These included the likes of the Chicken Livers cooked in Sherry & a Courgette Flower stuffed with Cod Brandada and a Romesco sauce. The restaurant therefore offers a few innovative and exciting little tapas, which I would love to have tried...
As you might expect the theme of the day is tapas and we ordered a variety:
The Pan Tomate (Tomato bread) was nicely prepared and done Catalan style, with a light coating of tomato as opposed to dunking the bread in the tomato like I’m used to in Andalucía. With this we began with the classic Tortilla (from 4 different varieties) and the small selection of cured meats & cheeses (there’s also a large selection). The tortilla was cooked perfectly and the cheese selection was enjoyable with a good variety from your standard Manchego to more niche goats cheeses that I had never tried. The cured meat selection included Jamón Serrano which was ok, but nothing compared to the Ibérico I got to know and love in Spain, and the chorizo felt very much like the packaged stuff. Learn more about Jamón in Spain and the difference between Jamón Ibérico & Serrano in my article. I was completely immersed into the world of Jamón by my local butcher (and jamón connoisseur) whilst living out there.
Just after our 2nd round of Finos arrived so did the Cannelloni with chicken, nutmeg béchamel and Mahón cheese. It was called ‘Canalones de la Abuela’ (Grandmother’s Cannelloni) and we ordered 2 between the 4 of us. It was rich and therefore ideal as a small tapas, but very comforting and did remind me of my grandmother’s cooking, so there you go. This was served with tasty Gambas a la Plancha (grilled prawns), 2 portions of Patatas Bravas to share and one of my favourite dishes, Pimientos de Padrón (fried Padrón Peppers with rock salt). They didn’t disappoint.
We finished with one more dish that I was interested in trying: Stuffed Piquillo Peppers with Spinach and Mushroom. Another rich tapas that wasn’t lacking in bechamel. I felt the abundance of cream overpowered the lovely veg that enticed me to order the dish, but I still polished it off.
All in all the food was alright and I ate everything we ordered quite content. But it wasn’t inspiring. This is the type of restaurant I don’t want to give up on and will be returning to try some of the other tapas on offer, (like the ones mentioned that weren’t available) as well as the Fideuà de Marisco (Catalan seafood pasta dish) to share.
If there was anything I was impressed with at El Borracho de Oro it was the service. It all began in good spirits when we were greeted by a waitor from Crete (my grandmother was impressed). The team, many of whom were Spanish, were very attentive from the start and knew what they were talking about. They took time to explain certain tapas and were helpful and patient as we went off on one asking about every single dish in the usual fashion.
The total price came to £88, which divided between 4 people with a drink each and 11 tapas isn’t bad really. Quality of the ingredient wasn’t king here, and that’s where I feel my impression was tarnished.