Restaurant Review: El Rincon de Rafa, Manchester

Despite looking like a carpark’s back entrance, the inside was full of understated character. As with people, it’s the inside that counts, and El Rincon certainly had charm. It was nothing like the nearby industrial-glitz of Spinningfields, but that’s not a criticism. El Rincon de Rafa was a restaurant full of life, densely populated by eclectic diners, resulting in a buzzy, cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Our party rightly ordered most of the tapas menu. Everything was decent – the clean plates spoke for themselves. Credit should be given to El Rincon de Rafa’s kitchen for their speed and consistency, but the food didn’t leap from the plate with vibrancy. The standout dish was easily the Chicken Livers in Sherry which should be required eating. Sherry is such a versatile ingredient; I don’t know why I don’t drink or fry stuff in it more of often. I’d suggest avoiding the Crab Claws as they offered little to the palate, but you can’t go far wrong with anything.

El Rincon de Rafa’s Wine List was exclusively Spanish – which may force customers into unfamiliar territory – which is rarely a bad thing. Both the lower priced red and white wines were well balanced and perfectly gluggable.

Given the portion sizes, most diners would eat three dishes and probably have room for a fourth. The tapas, along with a few glasses of their cheaper wine was approx £30 per head, which I considered average at best value for Manchester City Centre.

El Rincon de Rafa’s service was efficient and organised. All the food arrived surprisingly promptly given the number of diners. However, it wasn’t particularly cheerful despite a British friend ordering in fluent Spanish. Furthermore, we had native Spanish speakers with us, which I mistakingly hoped would increase the rapport.

Gushing TripAdvisor reviews report the tapas is staggering; it isn’t even the best tapas within the M60. However, El Rincon de Rafa is worth a visit for pre-theatre glasses of wine if nothing else.

El Rincon de Rafa Review Summary

Atmosphere 8/10    Cost 5/10    Quality 7/10    Service 6/10

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