Borough’s El Pastor has become the latest brilliant step on the Hart Bros’ crazy-successful London restaurant journey
Yes, it’s an unusual trajectory, but the Hart Brothers’ journey is a satisfying tale of passion, creativity and success. Following their first restaurant, the well-received tapas joint Fino, the HBs decided the time was right for uber-tapas.
They found an unpromisingly small, Soho-located venue and revolutionised London eating with a highly professional but relaxed paean to Spain that went on to gain a Michelin star.
The service and the quality of Nieves Barragan Mohacho’s cooking – and the radical no bookings policy – marked it out from the start and it spawned a second venue and earned a move into Quo Vadis’s space.
And then … a rocking taco joint in a disused railway arch. OK, El Pastor is in Borough, not exactly the arse-end of nowhere, but still, a tangent.
The sons of an investment banker and Eton-educated, the Harts have restaurants in their blood – their family had Michelin star credentials, owning Hambleton Hall in Cumbria – but the chops to conquer London’s restaurant scene, and diversify from a Michelin star to a taqueria, has placed Sam and Eddie Hart at the very top of smart, savvy restaurant entrepreneurialism.
In El Pastor they have once again created something of iconic status, this time using the skills of younger brother James and Crispin Somerville, who used to run a nightclub with in Mexico City with Sam (who knew!).
Epic quesadillas, sopa de tortilla, guac, salsas, aguachil, tostado all vie for your attention, and the scratch-made tortillas provide the all-you-need-to-know element of the El Pastor experience. Which includes a big beef shortrib served at the table for the diner to pull apart and make their own taco, with caramelised pineapple and coriander.
The Al Pastor taco has gained a legendary status, made of pork but aping the famous Mexican ‘shepherd’ tortilla, a shwarma-style delight brough to Mexico in the 50s by a large Lebanese migration (who knew? no 2!)
El Pastor is funky and full and queues head round the block. It has endured the toughest week any restaurant could have to go through, but such an enterprise, run by such a group of people (and by all accounts an incredible staff) is destined to rise and rise.
If you’ve never been to El Pastor, book a date in your diary. You can’t book a table (!) but you can plan to visit what will become a London legend. El Pastor, like Borough, like all good joints, need out support. SO when you feel able, let’s get Back To Borough.