It’s Tequila Time At El Capo – Nottingham
When my friend asked me if I wanted to go try out the food at the newly opened El Capo in Nottingham, I greeted him with a laugh and a big fat “Of course!” No way was I going to miss out on a chance to eat some Mexican food.
Sadly my experience of “Mexican” food pretty much stops at a KFC burrito and the odd time when the other half cooks it for dinner.
So the chance to try, what I hoped was some fine Mexican cuisine, was something that I was looking forward to.
We knew we had arrived at El Capo when we saw the red neon sign blazing “El Capo” at us. We very nearly walked by the place as there wasn’t much else to show that the Mexican delights were situated inside.
Entering El Capo, with directions from the helpful arrows above the door, we were faced with what looked like a staff only filled restaurant. It wasn’t until we walked further in that we spotted a duo in the corner. But that was it.
I was thinking “what the hell have we let ourselves in for.” For saying that this was the first weekend that El Capo were serving food, I thought there would have been a bigger crowd. Especially with the 50% off food if you booked in advance.
I later found out that it seems people don’t tend to go for Mexican at lunchtime. It’s more of a dinner kind of food, as in the evenings El Capo is booked out for weeks in advance.
The entire restaurant had the feel of some sort of film set, straight out of Dusk til Dawn or Machete. Where we sat we were bathed in a red light, making reading the menu and eating our food, real moody. Other areas, such as the bar, were lit up with lightshades that looked like they came from the 60s and would fit right in at your nan’s house.
El Capo screamed Mexico at you from every corner of the room from the highly decorated wall tiles to the copious amounts of crosses that hung on one wall.
They have done well to capture the spirit of Mexico, so the only thing left was to see if they had done the same with the food.
We were shown to a table and handed menus to pick something to eat. On the front of the menu was “El Capo” in gothic font. Around it were lots of hand drawn images. Skulls, cactus, tacos and others. It was a very cute menu.
As we had booked in advance we were offered 50% off the main menu or we had the chance to have Sunday Service. This was £14 per person, with a minimum of 2 people having to book it. On the service you got either a Burrito or Quesdilla, Nachos, Wings, 2 Tapas and 2 sides.
This is a lot of food. But it wasn’t really clear if this was something that you shared or if you got all of this to yourself. We asked our waitress and she didn’t know the answer. She came back a few minutes later and told us that it was each.
I couldn’t believe it. That was a lot of food for 2 people let alone one. If I was El Capo, I would change it to 2 mains, 2 tapas, 2 sides, Nachos and wings for £25. I feel that you would be just wasting food serving that much to people.
With only a couple of days serving food you could see that the staff were still getting used to everything. The waitress that went off for more information on the Sunday service, did the same for another enquiring group of food eaters.
I could only wonder why, after what must have been 20mins, she could not remember what she had been told about the Sunday service. God knows what her manager thought after she came again to ask the same question minutes later.
For me they only needed to make the offer clear and that would save everyone the confusion.
There were a few other things that showed the lack of polish on the service, like the waitress not taking the menus when we were finished ordering and her saying when we had finished that “we were great” as if the tables were turned and she was rating us on how well we dined. Filling out a review in their database when we had left. World star diner here.
This was pretty much the only thing that was not quite right for my food experience.
Alongside the menu was a drinks menu and what you would expect to find in a Mexican, a tequila menu. Those of you who know me know I’m partial to a tequila. Not the salt and lemon kind of tequila. A good quality tequila. One that you can enjoy (and yes you can enjoy tequila).
They had a good number of tequilas which I was unable to try due to driving. Next time I’m out in Nottingham. Pre drinks to El Capo for sure.
As we were waiting to decide what to eat, we ordered some chips and dips to tie us over. This might have been a mistake because it left us on the verge of needing to get rolled out of the restaurant at the end of the meal due to pigging out on too much food.
The dips that came with the chips were sour cream, pico de gallo and guacamole. The guacamole and sour cream tasted freshly made. The guacamole wasn’t the best that I had tasted. Byron Burger’s still had the top spot for me but it was still nice to dip into.
The pico de gallo I was not fond of. It reminded me of the pickle tray that you get from an Indian. There wasn’t too much to it. It looked like it only had coriander and red onion in it. I would have preferred it if it came with salsa instead.
Another display of the lack of something to do or newbie service was that we must have been asked over seven times if we were ready to order. Give us a moment! The harassment was not going to help us decide what to have.
In the end we ordered two starters to share, a main each and two sides. We thought that the Sunday Service, not only confusing, was too much food.
The starters we chose where the Patatas Bravos, which I just want to point out now are “lightly spiced.” Keep that in mind. And the Padron Peppers.
For main I went for the Pulled Beef Burrito with smoked chipotle salsa. My friend went for Pulled Beef fajitas with smoked chipotle salsa.
For the sides, we went for mac and cheese with chorizo and cheesy chilli chips.
I don’t really want to go on too much about the service. I am sure all of the staff are settling into their roles and getting to know what to do. El Capo managed to make up for this with the food.
And by god did they deliver.
When the starters came we still had some of our pre-starter dips and chips but we kinda abandoned them. We shared both the dishes so we could each try them.
The Pardon Peppers were grilled peppers with Maldon salt and a homemade chilli oil. The peppers were tasty. I couldn’t taste much of the chilli oil. I did think they were going to blow my brains out with the heat but it wasn’t that bad.
The Patatas Bravos though. Whoa! So earlier I mentioned to keep in mind the whole “lightly spiced” bit. My god! If they think that was lightly spiced then I don’t want to think about what they class as spicy.
Literally it seems like someone had put the wrong bottle of spice in it or something. In a moment of lapsed thinking the chef reaching for the wrong bottle and pulled down the black bottle with the three x’s on it.
Whatever it was they used, it gave you that tingling sensation on your lips. It was that spicy. There was also a literal afterburn on your tongue as if the spice had left some smouldering coal, burning your tastebuds.
It was at this point that my decision to have the smoked chipotle may have been a mistake as if this was lightly spiced I was going to be punished!
If you looked past the fact that the Patatos Bravos were the breath of the Devil, it was delicious. The potato was cut into small chunks and were of a good quality and the sauce that came with it was a perfect handshake.
A slightly less spicy version would have maybe been more enjoyable for any future visits.
It was at this point we were thinking we had made a mistake. A main each and two sides to share. I was half toasted already. If I was ever in need to get in the spirit for a food eating challenge, it was now.
Our main came out shortly after our starters. My friend’s fajitas came with its own little bowl full of the meat and peppers, a pot of sour cream, smoked chipotle salsa, cheese and two fajitas bigger than dinner plates.
My burrito came wrapped up along some tortilla chips, covered in jalapeños and drips of sour cream. These I didn’t really touch much as I already had enough food.
The sides that came were chronic.
The chilli on the cheesy chilli chips was ridiculous. I could taste the chilli flavour a little but the fat chunks of meat on the chips stole the show. It was tender and there was flipping loads of it. Literally, I think there was more meat than chips.
The mac and cheese was good as well. Very cheesy, maybe on the same level as the mac at Byron. But a step above due to the added chorizo that we asked for.
Now on to the show stopper. The burrito. So with a KFC burrito being the only thing that I can recently compare to, it poo-ed it out of the water.
THIS IS HOW MEXICAN FOOD SHOULD BE!
Yes, that was an all caps sentence.
The pulled beef I think was the right choice for the burrito. On the menu the pulled pork nearly tempted me, but orange sauce is not something I am a fan of. I just feel like it wouldn’t work as orange can be overpowering in flavour.
Wrapped together, with rice, guacamole, black beans, cheese and stuffed with the pulled beef, it feels like you are getting a little cuddle from a luchador. It all works and the taste is a phenomenon.
Epic Toilet Review
They are no normal signs on the toilets on the doors here at El Capo. The ladies toilet has a painting of a lady decorated like someone celebrating the day of the dead. The mens toilet has a man with a cracking moustache and a sombrero.
With El Capo not having been open long the toilets still had life in them, and haven’t been worn out with multiple uses. They were going for a blue look with a variation of blue coloured tiles on the walls. This was complemented with wooden decor, the toilet door made out of wood and the surround around the sink as well.
Very clean and well decorated.
With only a few days under El Capo’s belt, their trip advisor was set up but not a single review had been left.
Overall, El Capo was a delight to eat at. Apart from the service which I can pass off due to them being new at the food thing, El Capo is definitely high up in the best places that I have been to eat and is easily one of the best Mexican’s you will ever visit.
Food – 8.5
Service – 7
Value – 8
Overall – 78%
Telephone Number – 01159241555