Restaurant review - El Bocado Exeter

by Neil Morris - 13 September 2012

el-bocado-logoEl Bocado Exeter, Tapas bar and Restaurant
36-37 South Street,

I had eaten at El Bocado before, not long after it had opened, and found it to be a pleasant but unremarkable eating experience. As with many new independent restaurants, El Bocado was still finding its way and I was interested to see how it had progressed since those early days. In fact, I had heard some very positive comments about the place so decided to meet some friends there for a catch-up.

The decor in the restaurant seems to divide opinion and there is no denying that brown is the colour of choice. From the outside it is more Havana Club than back-street Barcelona and the theme is continued inside with its retro lounge bar feel. In my opinion this gives the place a really cosy feel and even when the place is not full, it has a welcoming and relaxing ambience. This welcoming vibe is continued by the friendly but unobtrusive attitude of the staff.

We began our meal with a beer and a nice selection of olives accompanied by bread and olive oil (the olive oil was warm which showed some nice attention to detail). Then we ordered a mixture of traditional tapas dishes such as stuffed peppers, calamares, patatas bravas, tortilla, chick peas and spinach, aubergines with honey, albóndigas and manchego cheese. Its always a good sign when time is taken to cook even the most basic and simplest of dishes correctly and El Bocado Exeter seems to embrace this; all the dishes were fresh and full of flavour and were executed really well.tapas-el-bocado

Of the first round of dishes we ordered, the Aubergines in honey were a particular favourite. I have eaten this tapas dish before in Andalusia but I must admit the ones we were served in El Bocado were as good as any I have eaten. We did order another round of dishes and the standard was generally maintained with only the odd dish falling below par; the Albóndigas de Gamba y Bacalao and the Estofado Mediterráneo were the dishes that, despite being enjoyed, received the least praise. The wine list was concise but with good variety and the desserts were all well received - as was the Spanish Brandy!

The menu caters well for all tastes with an extensive list of tapas and a good range of set meals. Vegetarians are very well catered for and will not feel short of choice and I have been informed that the menu changes on a monthly basis. The food is either imported from Spain or produced locally and everything is freshly prepared without a microwave in sight.el-bocado-mural

With regular Flamenco and Spanish guitar nights, El Bocado seems to be making a real effort to provide customers with a relaxing dining experience as well as an authentic Spanish menu that caters for all tastes. The ever-evolving menu also shows that they listen to their customers and are willing to adapt accordingly.

The South West is short of good tapas bars and the people of Exeter should certainly get behind El Bocado rather that making the default decision to head straight for their local identikit Spanish-themed chain establishment.


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