I have never been entirely convinced by the concept, truth be told. I didn’t even try it on holiday in the Canary Islands, where tapas bars were plenty.
Even in the UK, a melting point of cultures and cuisines from all over the world, I still somehow managed to avoid ever going to a tapas bar.
So, enter newcomers to the block El Fuego Tapas Bar and Restaurant, on Prince Street, Bridlington.
I had previously done a short write-up for the proprietors who were making their first go at running their own establishment.
I thought, where better to make my tapas debut than a newly opened joint with big ambitions?
My girlfriend and I booked a table for Tuesday at 7pm. We weren’t expecting it to be busy — El Feugo’s hasn’t had the chance to properly establish itself and get their name out around Bridlington.
There were, however, two other diners in the long, spacious dining area.
“There’s so much room here they could do with getting some more tables”, I thought to myself.
The place was, undeniably, still a bit a rough around the edges. I thought they could do with a few more tables to fill the spacious room.
But that in no way reflected the quality of the forthcoming food.
We sat at our table by the window looking out across Prince Street and were offered some drinks by our very friendly waitress and proprietor, Jo Clark.
Jo had spent some years in Spain, learning the culture, way of life and, most important of all, the food.
She had described the Spanish approach to dining as a “chilled out” one. Surely this is the best route to success in setting up shop in a sleepy, seaside town like Bridlington.
And her partner Jason Lewis, previously a chef at Blenheim Palace for the Duke of Marlborough, make a formidable team.
For a restaurant that had been open for little over a month, Jo and Jason had done a great job in rapidly expanding their menu over such a short period.
And my vegetarian girlfriend was also pleased to see some very agreeable meat-free options.
I opted for La miel de veintre de cerdo glaseda, or, slow roasted pork belly strips with a honey glaze, to you and me. I also ordered a bowl of battered calamari rings.
Both were cooked to perfection. I rarely choose pork, fearing the meat will be too dry. But Jason succeeded in transforming it into a delicious and tender dish.
The squid rings were ideal and came coated in a batter that left me wanting more.
My girlfriend also seemed content with her patatas bravas and Spanish omelette. I tried both and will probably choose those on my next visit.
Overall, I was very impressed with El Fuego.
It’s always a risky business in starting a restaurant, and work still needs to be done to address the decor. But I’m confident these improvements will come naturally over time.
Overall rating 7/10.