‘I feel part Spanish’ laughs Emma Yufera. ‘It’s what I know’.
She isn’t wrong. Though the British owner of El Borracho De Oro isn’t, technically speaking, Spanish at all, she harbours an infectious zeal for the country. Her knowledge of the culture is extensive and there’s a visible, wide-eyed excitement to her delivery when she’s proving it. To anyone she converses with, it is clear; she loves Spain – and she loves its food.
Based at Edgbaston’s Harbourne Court, the tapas restaurant embodies its founder’s infatuation. It doesn’t shy away from the fact that it is Birmingham-based (Yufera uses local markets for a number of supplies), yet there’s a stressed authenticity to the place – from the dishes on the menu to the tiles on the wall. El Borracho is a happy hybrid, celebrating its founder’s two homes simultaneously – weighted by the live salsa band’s Mediterranean reworking of classic Britpop tracks. Ever wondered what Wonderwall would have sounded like if the Gallagher brothers hailed from Catalonia? Bloody great, that’s what.
It’s the faithfulness to Spanish culture that Emma is most proud of.
‘It works to our detriment’, she admits, ‘typical English customers have preconceptions about Spanish food, but we try and avoid adhering to that, instead focusing on real authenticity’.
Again, this is absolutely true. The tapas menu is an eclectic mix, ranging from croquetas to octopus and divided, quaintly, into three sections: ‘Del Campo’ (from the pasture), ‘Del Mar’ (from the sea) and De La Tierra (from the ground).
‘It is my belief that our menu should always reflect the skills and talents of my kitchen team rather than just my own preferred choices’ Emma argues – and it’s difficult to disagree with her. Head Chef Ignacio Castells has created an amalgamation of beautiful, Spanish food. Were it not for the weather giving them away, I could have almost been convinced that I’d left the country.
El Borracho de Oro is a wonderful little restaurant with a genuine buzz. Emma’s team (all from Spain, except Greek assistant manager Leo, who tells customers he’s Spanish anyhow) are just as committed to the project as she is, and together they deliver wholeheartedly. A stone’s throw from The Vale, and offering two Tapas for £6.95 at lunchtime from Tuesday to Saturday, El Borracho is a perfect destination for the student foodie.
Five to try: Jamón Croquetas (£4.25), Chorizo Sausage cooked in Red Wine (£6.25), Fresh Fried Whole Whitebait (£5.00), Prawns “Al Ajillo” (£7.50), Octopus “A la Gallega” (£9.95).