El Torrero has become a favorite with Newcastle diners since it opened a couple of years ago. At weekends it’s advisable to book but you can usually get a table without booking during the week. My favorite time to visit is a long drawn out Sunday afternoon where you can enjoy dish after dish without feeling rushed.
El Torrero is situated a stone’s throw from the busy quayside area but don’t let that put you off; El Torrero is in a class of its own. Simple decor with wooden floors and ornate lighting up in the high ceiling create an easy style that is sophisticated without being over the top. This place is perfect for bigger groups but also ideal for intimate dinners. There is a bar area at the back where you can wait if necessary until your table is ready; this area is partitioned off so you can also go there just for a drink and many people do come here just for that reason on Friday and Saturday evenings.
The menu consists mainly of tapas dishes but there are also three types of paella available. You must either order paella in advance or be prepared to wait around 50 minutes and order a few tapas dishes while you wait. If you do this, however, be warned that the dish of paella, designed for two to share, is enormous, so leave room for it and don’t overdo the tapas. The tapas menu is vast and varied, offering vegetarian, fish and meat plates. The meatballs (albondigas) come in a gutsy sauce with a nice kick to it and whatever else I try I always order these. There are some great chili peppers stuffed with minced cod and a delicious salad of marinated roast vegetables, dripping with herby oil.
There is a great selection of breads so that you are sure not to waste a drop of the beautiful sauces your tapas dishes come in and various kinds of olives to nibble on as you await your first dishes. If you want, you can ask that the dishes do not all come together – it’s your choice.
There’s a good wine list, starting at very reasonable prices and a selection of local and bottled Spanish beers.
Desserts are available and tend to be of the highly calorific and sticky kind, with a few being typical Spanish puddings. I usually prefer to finish here with a coffee but occasionally the Creme Catalan ice cream gets the better of me!
Service is good, staff are friendly and are happy to explain anything on the menu; oddly it seems like the quieter it is the more difficult to get the attention of a member of staff.
El Torrero is a particularly good place to eat in a group because the whole way it’s done is very sociable, sharing dishes and sampling what other people have requested. A good way is to order a couple of plates of each and then everyone digs in. It’s maybe not for those who like to eat quite formally and have possession of their own meal, but the food is so delicious you’ve got to try it!