Restaurant with a long history that fills its fridge with fresh products from the sea and the regional meadows and orchards. Two dining rooms – one on the floor, more bustling and lively where to see and be seen; and another on the upper floor, more quiet and calm – offer the opportunity to taste fish and meat carefully cooked and professionally served. In our visit, it is worth mentioning the interest to properly pair each dish with a glass of wine selected from an extensive range offered at a good price. As starter, a salad of well-roasted peppers, leeks, anchovies and pickled tuna, well-resolved as a whole and of adequate flavor, although the cannery leeks were a little over cooked. As main course, we chose a baked “machote” (snapper fish) with sliced potato, of correct texture, with good “fumé” and well boned, quite tasty. My companion opted for a breaded sweetbreads with homemade chips, of exquisite taste and very clean, though undercooked. For dessert, a pineapple, lemon and tiramisu ice cream, very good and with little ice. To accompany, six varieties of young low-alcoholic wines -three white and three reds- which proved to be a successful choice.
Tasty traditional cuisine properly wine paired
Cuisine with long way ahead
The new owner has given life and polish to this place made of large rooms thanks to a more than well-done remodeling. More than a facelift, the new image, modern and full of remarkable achievements, marks in itself an invitation to get into this establishment that has just turned on its stoves and which surely still has a long way ahead, especially in regards to its wine list, too narrow to be a winery. We started with a salad of tomato and onion in Arbequina oil, which turned out to a bit lacking of flavor, having salt shortage and in which you could taste far too much the over-matured tomato skin. As main dish, a sliced entrecote of very good meat medium cooked (to the point) and very well presented in a slate plate, frankly very tasty and well garnished with homemade fries, Padrón (hot) peppers adequately fried and Maldon salt. To finish, a whisky cake, satisfactory in terms of liquor, but a little scarce in its size.
Always a good bet
A cosy restaurant with its dining-room upstairs, it has always stood out for the freshness of its seafood. A small aquarium with live fish and a glass-sided fridge helps you decide on your way in. We chose a shellfish platter and some sautéed clams. The clams weren’t particularly big, but they were just the right degree of spicy-hot to go with their deep flavour and the white wine reduction: really tasty. The shellfish platter was of spider crab, velvet crab, langoustine and prawn and was delicious, although the langoustine was slightly undercooked and the spider crab a bit insipid, probably because it had been pre-cooked. The prawns were very fresh and the velvet crabs were surprisingly meaty for the time of year. To finish up, we had a whisky gateau: the sweetness was just right and they didn’t overdo the cram. The wine was a Valdeorras white, of Godello grape and aged on the lees: very fresh and good acidity.
Address: Juan de la Cosa, 5
Tel: 942 216 973
Closed on Wednesdays
Fresh regional cooking, creatively prepared
In a seductive setting, this new restaurant serves seasonal food with modern touches, well presented and efficiently served. It more than met my expectations, but without entirely amazing my palate. To start off, I had a manzanilla sherry, a Sanlúcar, along with some Santoña anchovies, which were dressed with very good olive oil and shredded tomato: they were a bit too salty and hadn’t been well deboned. Then I had an Olivier salad (ensaladilla rusa) with king prawns: delicious mayonnaise and the potato perfectly cooked, it was ideal for a sunny day and was topped off with some very green and tender lamb’s lettuce, reasonably crispy. As a main course, acorn-fed Iberian pork shank, served with celeriac, wild mushrooms, foie, honey and apricot jam. The meat was very slightly overcooked, but the taste was sensational and the garnish was delicious, and daringly imaginative. For dessert, a slice of chocolate cake with raspberries, freshly made and a reasonable size, and a cheese ice cream which was seriously delicious. To drink, a Somontano white: tasty in the mouth, good length and just the right degree of acidity.
Address: Castelar, 5
Tel: 942 223 975
Open every day
Over 40 euros
Classic, but fresh and confident
Hidden away behind the entrance to a private housing estate and a few steps up, this classically decorated restaurant with a maritime touch serves excellent traditional food very well prepared. As a starter, Antonio suggested some roasted peppers with slices of tuna, Arbequina olive oil and just the right amount of salt: the peppers were fleshy, properly peeled, well-roasted and had good texture. As a main course, a squid fideuá (like a paella, but with noodles, not rice) cooked in its ink with king prawns, a generous serving with enough for second helpings, and the alioli (garlic mayonnaise) was perfectly emulsified. The noodles were nicely thick, well-done, but not toasted first, the squid and prawn combined well, the seasoning was good, and the dish as a whole had just the right balance between dry and creamy, which is hard to achieve: frankly, exquisite. For dessert, a tiramisu with good mascarpone, unsweetened cocoa and sponge fingers. The wine was a young Protos (Ribera del Duero): good. All in all, a great meal at a reasonable price, a relaxed atmosphere, and good music in the background.
Address: Avenida Maura, 21
Tel: 942 074 300
Open every day
Over 40 euros
Excellent ingredients, but a touch chaotic
The food in this well-regarded tavern in the upper part of the city bears the personal stamp of its proprietor, Mariano Mora. The dining-room is nothing fancy and the tables with their paper tablecloths are a bit too close together. The stand-out dishes are its fresh shellfish and fish, so that is what I chose. I started with some nécoras (velvet crabs), meaty, well-cooked and seasoned, tasty, and then I moved onto a ración of pulpo a la gallega (sliced octopus Galician-style) – although grilled octopus is their more typical dish – seasoned with bittersweet paprika and drizzled with good olive oil: it was well cooked. As a main course, I had grilled sole (lenguado): it was fresh and had a good texture, but what it came with was unimaginative, the potato was overcooked and the garlic had been fried beforehand. For dessert, the mango ice cream was slightly bland, despite its being a very sweet fruit, and a bit tasteless. To drink, a correct Barbadillo from Cadiz, at a reasonable price. To sum up, good ingredients but not shown off at their best.
Address: Avenida General Dávila, 103
Tel: 942 232 628
Over 40 euros
La Flor de Tetuán
As classy as ever, and revitalised
Maite Rodríguez (from El Marucho) has made very few changes since she took charge of this famous seafood restaurant in January – but you can certainly tell the difference. A more spacious dining-room (she has removed some of the tables), better lighting, a bigger wine list and more up-beat service give you a perfect excuse to enjoy what is still their signature selling point: very tasty fish and shellfish and no skimping on the quantity. To start off, I had hake roe vinaigrette: very fresh and compact and an intense sea flavour. Then a generous ración of quality Joselito cured ham: excellent taste and shine, but a bit too cold, which makes it less sumptuous, and too thickly cut. Then fresh wild turbot, grilled: beautiful texture, and served with sautéed sliced potatoes and freshly fried garlic. All accompanied by a Cantabrian white, at just the right temperature and well-structured. To finish off, profiteroles filled with crème pâtissière and topped off with hot chocolate. Delicious, but one complaint: they were cooked with olive oil, rather than a more neutral one.
Address: Tetuán, 25
Tel: 942 218 353
Over 40 euros
Asador Lechazo Aranda
Always a safe bet
This spacious and imposing restaurant, with its Gothic windows, timber beams and stained glass, is famed for its magnificent lamb and suckling pig, roasted over oak logs in the beehive clay oven which greets you as you walk in. Goyo and Violeta produce well-flavoured food, steeped in Castilian tradition, and other fine dishes as well. A stand-out starter is their jamón de bellota (top-quality cured ham), shiny, well-sliced and at just the right temperature. Or try their T-bone steak (chuletón) of well-aged beef, grilled with just the right amount of salt over embers from their oven. On my visit, the two-and-a-half-pound monster had been trimmed a bit too much and was not quite fatty enough to achieve the full depth of flavour and juiciness that it could have done. The tray of embers at our table kept the meat warm without overcooking it. To have with it, a simple and delicious salad of lettuce, onions and tomato, very clean, well-chopped and anointed with excellent olive oil. Then a good manchego cheese rounded off our meal, which had been accompanied by a red Ribera de crianza (aged for two years, at least six months in oak) which was oaky, full-bodied and lingered long on the palate.
Address: Tetuán, 15
Tel: 942 214 823
Over 40 euros
El Jardín de Aída
A pleasant surprise
The new project of Nacho Dirube and Aída Rivas looks set to revitalize a part of the city – San Martín, in between the centre and the beaches – in which there has long been a shortage of restaurants. Well-decorated by their daughters – one of them, Aída, runs the place – the dining-room on the upper floor is nice and bright, and the tables are simply but charmingly set. I started with a vegetable salad with nuts and dried fruit, a reasonable size, very fresh and well-dressed, and then went on to a very tasty sapito (small angler fish), accompanied by vegetable al dente and a green asparagus infusion. The fish – black angler fish, the best for the grill – weighed about 11 ounces, was finished off in the oven, and was fresh and firm. Then a pie of deboned oxtail (rabo de toro), cooked in wine and served with fried shoestring potatoes and cherry tomatoes. The meat, without nerves or cartilage, had been slow-stewed and was completely at one with its sauce. Frankly melt-in-the-mouth. Well-seasoned and delicious. The chef here is Luis Velasco, who we should definitely keep an eye on.
Address: Reina Victoria, 27
Tel: 942 217 058
Over 40 euros
Their cooking is evolving, with some notable successes
This historic bodega – with its ‘Round Museum’ of barrels with their lids painted by well-known artists – is in the process of renewing its cuisine, with the perhaps inevitable result of some outstanding successes and one or two mistakes by the Asturian chefs, Óscar and Alejandro. Excellent entrées, well-presented, include the hand-cut cured ham, the gloriously creamy croquettes of Tresviso cheese and truffles and the Olivier salad (ensaladilla rusa), although personally I like it with a bit more potato. One misstep is the jumbo prawn marinated in coconut vinaigrette: far too raw in the centre, it would have worked better with smaller ones. Something similar occurred with the hake in mussel sauce, which was slightly underdone and the sauce was too strong, had an insistent back taste of iodine and was more of a purée than a sauce. The meal improved with a dessert which was somewhere between tocinillo de cielo (a heavenly Spanish custard dish) and my grandmother’s flan: brilliantly cooked and as light as a feather. A pleasure to eat which should set the standard for the relaunch of this welcoming restaurant which this year celebrates its 75th anniversary.
Address: Río de la Pila, 5
Tel: 942 216 750
Cost: 40 euros
Excellent seafood cuisine – the cod is wonderful
This restaurant, at the beginning of Tetuán, offers good traditional cooking with modern touches and is well managed by its young chef and proprietor Álvaro Obregón. There is no doubt at all that one of the star dishes is his bacalao al pil-pil, which shows off what he learnt when working with Martín Berasategui. Very good pil-pil and excellent cod, perfectly combined with the olive oil – and not all oil varieties will do: the best in terms of acidity, texture and aroma are Picual, Arbequina and Hojiblanca. Delicious rice with carpet-shell clams (wild, not farmed), with Verdejo wine added late in the cooking and leaving behind a subtle but recognisable reminder of its presence. The short-grain rice, of the Bomba variety, absorbs three times its volume in liquid without going mushy – in this case taking advantage of a fish fumet. Very, very good, although I could have done with some more… For dessert, a dish of three chocolate treats: a walnut brownie, a mousse and a sort of babarua (a Crème Bavaroise) which was memorable. All accompanied with a Juve Camps white reserva (aged for at least two years, with at least six months in oak) at just the right strength, and a good price.
Address: Tetuán, 23
Tel: 942 310 573
Cost: 39 euros