El Coto Durham is a cute little place we’ve noticed in passing and have wanted to visit for some time. It’s tucked away up past the students union in New Elvet, right next to where the old driving test centre used to be. So, with a free slot in our hectic schedule (currently moving house) we parked up in Old Elvet and legged it up the bank.
First impressions from the outside are that it looks very small and it looks very closed. It was about 12:30 on Saturday afternoon. Closer inspection of the menu in the window revealed a chink of light and it was in fact open for business and that there was a special offer of 3 tapas selections for about 11 quid, so being greedy for a bargain, we went in.
The tiny facade opens out when you go in the front door, like stepping into the Tardis. The place goes back a lot farther than we thought, with rustic fittings, big holes in walls, big mirrors and old railway sleepers decorating the walls, well trodden wood flooring making it look like it’s been lived in for about 40 years. A small bar is just inside the front door, so you can have a ‘primer’ before a meal, but there wasn’t anyone behind the bar, so we found a seat ourselves. Four lads with big floppy hair cuts were the only patrons, enjoying their lunch with a bit of boyish silliness thrown in. ‘Hotel California’ massaged our ears from the music system, in Spanish. The warm smell of colitas seemed even more intoxicating as it rose up through the air.
The waitress was with us in less than a minute, taking our drinks order and bringing our menus.
Two glasses of San Miguel settled us in quite nicely. The special offers were on a separate menu, which we had to ask for specifically, but there was lots of commonality with the standard one, so no problems there with selection. We picked 6 items (olive bread, spanish salad, meatballs, tiger prawns/chilli, chicken/garlic and chorizo) and waited with baited breath. Well, we actually had another beer.
The salad and bread arrived first, within about 10 mins of ordering and there was an enormous amount of both. The salad was nice fresh and crispy. The tapas arrived as soon as we finished our salad, and I have to say the portion sizes were much larger than other tapas places i’ve been to. OK, I haven’t been to many, but I know a big plate of tucker when I see one. Food quality was very good, service was also excellent. Thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the fact that the bill only came to 26 English Pounds including the San Miguel.
We liked El Coto. A lot. The only real grouse was that the menus were a bit tatty around the edges , and that the restaurant would probably do better if it actually looked open! 🙂
We’ll definitely return here, with other foodies in tow.
Price : £25.90 (for two)
Durham Food and Drink Rating
First Impression : 7, Service : 8, Food : 7, Value : 7
17 Hallgarth Street,
Email : email@example.com