MikeR

May 042018
 
PREMIUM PLUS,              MORAIRA                 96 617 73 87

 ★★★★☆ 

‘Premium Plus’ means better than average

The name is not helpful: it tells you nothing about what the restaurant is trying to achieve.  Everywhere is ‘premium’, and adding a ‘plus’ to it says very little. But that minor carping comment aside, this restaurant is rather better than anticipated.

It is situated in a row of bars and restaurants, ending with the establishment called ‘Fishy Fishy’, situated close to the centre of Moraira along the road leading to Calpe. Our initial concern was with parking: Friday is market day in Moraira but we need not have worried. By two o’clock there was parking, free, right outside the restaurant, until five p.m.

We had the choice of sitting on the outside terrace but chose to dine inside, where we were further away from a large party. The interior was pleasant, if a little dark, and we  were greeted with a glass of cava each, complete with a selection of summer fruits floating (or sinking) in the glass. Not bad at all.

The menu del dia is priced at €24.20 and that gave us a choice of half a dozen starters (soup, salad with goats cheese, Caesar salad, liver parfait, seafood cocktail and gambas).     

Four of us chose the Menu (excellent  gambas – firm, tasty, and not oily – and a tasty seafood cocktail) while two of our number saved their appetites for the main course. There was a welcome little amuse bouche to start with, matched by a lovely home-made lemon sorbet between courses.

                                   

For the main course some of us had an excellent rack of ribs, beautifully cooked. One of us chose the salmon and pronounced it ‘good’ while another  chose the pork fillet. The others selected steak, in one form or another, including a rib-eye  for which he paid an extra six euros for the privilege. We could also have had chicken or duck breast, so there were no complaints about menu choice.

If there was a weak spot it was the desserts – two of us selected the chocolate mousse and ended up with an overpoweringly sweet concoction which had very little to do with chocolate and rather more to do with meringue pieces and a lot of artificial whipped cream. Maybe we should have stuck with the ubiquitous creme catalan, or the cheese tart, or even the dreaded brownie. One of us selected the cheese board – it looked varied and interesting.

After the meal we had coffees and were offered chopitos of a dark muscatel – on the house – but the lure of a decent brandy (Torres, but not on the house…) proved irresistible to some.

What made the meal was that the price included half a bottle of house wine, and especially as that house wine was not just ‘OK’ but excellent. If you judge an establishment by the quality of their house wine, this was very, very good indeed. For white wine lovers we had a sauvignon blanc, with a Finca Los Trenzones label, and for the red a 2017 Rioja roble called Cueva de Lobo (€12.10). Well received, and quickly put away!

All in all, a very decent meal which thoroughly deserved its four stars. The owner, a Turkish man from Bulgaria, is also responsible for the bar a couple of doors away called, simply, ‘Premium’ and although he seemed disappointed not to have got five stars, we think he did rather well. Cost p.p. €28.

MR   77

Nov 252017
 
RESTAURANTE ASIA,  AVDA LAS MARINAS,   3-D,   BENISSA        96 574 82 95

 ★★★☆☆ 

A billion Chinese can’t be wrong!

Situated alongside the main road between Calpe and Moraira,  above the beautiful bay at Fustera, sits this long-established Chinese Restaurant.

Forget the fact that they take the bookings in a diary more than 2 years old, overlook the slightly dated décor inside, and remember that here you can still get a Menu del Dia for under 8 euros.

 

More to the point you can also get  a choice of  eight different set meals. We were all happy to go with one at 18.50 euros, and for that we got a non-stop succession of dishes, starting with salad (spicy onions and chopped chilies), chicken ‘balls’ (in fact a ball of meat still attached to the thigh bone), spring rolls and Pekin duck pancakes (very good).

 

 

This was not the end by any means – we then had dim sum followed by prawns, then by a sizzling beef platter and then by lamb in a spicy sauce. Oh, and spare ribs!

 

All of which were accompanied by fried rice and noodles. Small wonder that one of our number was forced to remark: “This is one substantial meal.”

 

For wines we had an ever-reliable Faustino V (white) and a “very drinkable” Torro de Torres (red). Coffees and  brandies completed a very pleasant meal. It was never going to be the best, nor the cheapest at €31.40 p.p., but it was a good, tasty, meal in a restaurant offering value for money. Maybe next time our party of eight will not be the only diners….

MR  71                   

Nov 042017
 
RESTAURANTE BISTRO, MORAIRA.   96 574 4568

 ★★★☆☆ 

 

A bistro by any other name

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Naming your eaterie ‘Restaurant Bistro’ may seem a bit unimaginative, and it must be difficult to stand out from the crowd when you are cheek-by-jowl with a number of other restaurants crammed around the Plaza de la Sort – the square right by the seafront in the centre of Moraira, next to the Club Nautico car park. It almost seems to be part of its neighbour, D’gust, but it turned out to be a good three-star place to eat. Centrally located, it offers a good choice of dishes for the Menu del Dia, priced at a reasonable 15 euros.

Coated mushrooms…

Mussels…

For starters we were offered mussels, calamares, mushrooms in breadcrumbs, melon with ham and mixed salad. We tried the first three and found them good. This was followed up by a popular solomillo de cerdo, with  a tasty pimento sauce; lenguado de la plancha (described as being ‘good but would have been better with some tartare sauce’); chicken pieces on a skewer; merluza (hake) and a spag. bol. which proved to be too big for one of our number.

Lenguado a la plancha….

Solomillo de Cerdo …

 

 

 

 

 

 

The postres turned out to be the usual Spanish offering of flan, flan or flan – actually there were profiteroles as well. Nothing to write home about, but presented well by an energetic and helpful member of staff. Coffees and brandies were offered by our generous host – an offer matched by the proprietor.

The ubiquitous crème caramel

Profiteroles…

The menu del dia would have included wine but this was declined in favour of the ever-drinkable Mantel, using verdejo grapes from Rueda and priced at 17 euros a bottle. The red wine lovers opted for a bottle of Ramon Bilbao at a couple of euros more.

All in all a pleasant lunch in the November sunshine, by the seaside. Who could ask for anything more?

The cost per head came to 28.25 euros.

74 PH                 

Oct 202017
 
CA PINET, ALCALALI        96 588 42 29

 ★★★☆☆ 

Keeping the (red) flag flying!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those people who remember the original Ca Pinet at Tarbena will recall a slightly dingy bar off the square, more like a museum than a restaurant, run ‘single-handedly’ by a man who revelled in the glories of a communist past. The walls were festooned with pictures of the proprietor, alongside Che Guevara, Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro. This shrine to a communist past seemed welded to the spot, so it is with some surprise to find that it has moved lock, stock and barrel to Alcalali, where it occupies a site formerly taken by an Indian restaurant, and before that, by Los Almendros.

You cannot miss it: it is painted bright red (of course) and even the business card and menu sport a hammer and sickle. Most of the menu is taken up, not with food, but with pictures of a glorious past, full of unfulfilled promise and heroic poses by long-forgotten leaders of the communist brotherhood. The walls are still festooned with newspaper clippings and photographs, and the place is dominated by pictures of the original proprietor – it is still a shrine, and a fascinating one at that.

The menu features dishes of the day, based around the usual favourites such as paella, fideuada and what is termed gazpacho. No, not the watery tomato/almond-based soup of the Andalusian South, but a full-bodied stew, made from either fish or meat, padded out with squares of pasta and floating in a tasty stock. But first we had a selection of sausages and black puddings, the morcillas and salchichones, including  delicious embutidos laced with honey and served with walnuts. Scrumptious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was followed up by the ubiquitous tuna salad with its predictable ingredients of  a bit of tinned tuna, half a boiled egg, a few slices of onion and crisp lettuce leaves. Predictable – but good. That left us fired up for the main course…

Four of us chose the gazpacho, one pair opting for the fish gazpacho, the other for the chicken-based meat alternative, and very good indeed they turned out to be. Another diner chose the chicken, and all of us enjoyed the feast. It was followed up by the offer of different mousses – chocolate or lemon – and of course by custard cream. By then most of us had no room for puddings and opted for coffee and brandy.

The wines deserve mention: no wines were on offer other than those produced from Marnes, in the Jalon Valley, within a stone’s throw of where we were eating. The bottles had been re-labelled with the name of the restaurant, and the red was , much to our surprise, not bad at all and provided excellent value.

Overall we were all agreed: Ca Pinet is not a place to rush to with your wife or partner, but as a venue for a group outing – it was well worth a try and was considerably better than we expected. Long live the revolution!

The cost per head came to 24 euros.

MR 70   

 

 

Jun 232017
 

 

BRISAS DEL MAR, C/la Mar, No. 2, Moraira      620 103 000

 ★★★☆☆ 

My, my, my, Moraira!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You might be forgiven for thinking that a modest little restaurant at the end of a row of eateries, alongside the car-park serving the Club Nautica, had much to be modest about: unassuming, unpretentious, and, oddly, un-occupied. The fifteen in our party more than made up for that, and the restaurant proved to be excellent value based around a Menu del Dia costing just 12 euros. Not bad for a sea-front restaurant in the heart of a popular town….

    

 

 

The Menu del Dia gave a choice of chopitos, salad, sardines or gazpacho – with the sardines being by far the most popular. And for good reason – they were excellent, with good flavour and texture. The second course saw more varied  choices with several opting for the Paella  Valenciana. Others went for the lenguado (sole) and five of us chose the rather tasty breast of chicken in a creamy sauce. The postres offered the usual suspects – profiteroles, ice creams, flan and so on. Nothing too imaginative, but still  very pleasant.

The price included pan y ali oli, and coffee was an option in lieu of the dessert. The house wines were unspectacular – one called ‘Salinas’ from Utiel Requeno (white) and a red temperanillo called ‘Monterio’. The success of the meal was enhanced by a fine bottle of brandy, the gift of our rash Kiwi member, and it added to a most pleasant Friday afternoon beside the seaside in the company of more Yorkshiremen than is normally advisable.

The total bill,  to include a rather impressive number of bottles of wine, came to a very reasonable euros 28.60 – and, rather helpfully, the restaurant handed out passes enabling us all to leave the car-park for free. That certainly appealed to the Yorkshire contingent….

PH  69

Jun 192017
 

AGUA DE MAR , MARINA DE DENIA, DENIA.    966425007

 ★★★★★ 

 ¡¡Viva Denia!!

Menu del Dia:  Euro 20.80 and 26.90 Number of attendees:  Seven and one visitor.

   

The Restaurant “Agua de Mar” is located on the south side of Denia’s port area known as “Marina de Denia”.  The large terrace, located on the first floor, enjoys views of the yacht harbour and Denia Castle on one side, the other vista being the bay of Denia.  The interior of the restaurant is very attractive and intimate.

   

Parking in the Marina is no problem except perhaps on weekends. Only 3 of the 8 members present opted for the Menu del Dia at Euros 20.80 which consisted of four well-presented starters, for the main course a choice of six rice dishes, a meat or fish dish, followed by a choice of four desserts. The rest of the group chose puntilla de calamar, pulpo a la brasa, mejillones and carpaccio de higos from a wide selection of starters.  As a main course tartare de ternera de Gallega, solomillo con salsa trufa, rape azafaran and ensalada bogavante were the preferred choice. All dishes were freshly cooked, and served on hot plates.  White table-cloths and serviettes and an excellent service is the trademark of this restaurant. Both wines chosen cost Euros 15.50 each.  For the white we had a Rueda – Verdejo Berasategui – the restaurant’s house wine, and the red Ribero del Duero – Manso 3 meses – both of which were very much appreciated.

     

The lunch per person cost Euros 42.60 including coffee and brandy – not cheap, but worth it.

The location, excellent food, wines and service were praised and appreciated by all the members!

PM 82               

 

May 192017
 

NEW INDIA GATE,  ORBA,         965 584 399    (e-mail: newindiagate03790@gmail.com )

 ★★★★☆ 

It’s not just the petrol that’s four star!

 

On the winding road down into Orba from the Jalon Valley there is a petrol station on the outskirts of the town. Not an auspicious place to have a rather impressive Indian restaurant – but don’t let looks deceive you. The un-prepossessing exterior gives way to a pleasant, airy restaurant where you will be greeted with enthusiasm and served with excellent food.

 

 

 

 

 

You can, if you are counting your centimos, have a basic Menu del Dia for just under ten euros, but if you want unrestricted access to the meat courses on offer, head for the €13.95  version. We opted for a €15 Menu del Dia which included half a bottle of wine per person. The wine turned out to be a very pleasant Bach – available in red and white. On a hot day we declined the soup and all chose poppadoms, with an interesting assortment of hot chilli, onion, mango and mint chutneys.

We then had a starter course consisting of a number of tasters, mostly in batter, and although these were not especially striking (and tended towards being dry) they set us up nicely for the main course. We each chose our own type of curry, based on either chicken, lamb or beef, and in each case we found the curry a delight. Those who wanted their curry hot, hot, hot were not disappointed.

 

 

Those who did not want to venture beyond a korma were left equally happy. The meal really was very good, and the waiter was quite splendid – whoever said that you cannot learn good English from watching TV shows?!

We generally dispensed with the pudding course in favour of coffee – supplemented by a small brandy, supplied on the house on account of the fact that there were eight of us in the party.

All in all a really pleasant meal. And when you realize that the restaurant will even come and get you and take you home afterwards (as long as you live within a 10k radius, and as long as they’re not fully booked already) you will appreciate how helpful they are. There is only one downside – the setting is next to a petrol station. But even that did not prevent one of our number noting that a nightingale was singing its heart out, loud enough to drown the sound of Indian music…..

The cost per head came to a not unreasonable €17.80

MR  76                                                    

 

 

Apr 142017
 
MASIA SANT JAUME ,         BENISSA,  9652702 36/ 625297629

 ★★★☆☆ 

Heading for the top…

Situated high above Moraira looking towards the spectacular Peñon de Ifach  is this newly opened restaurant run by the same family which runs the ever-popular El Chamizo in Moraira. Pedants will point to the fact that the restaurant is technically not in Moraira – it is in the coastal section of Benissa – and so that is the category in which we must place it.

The setting is marvellous, with a choice of seating either indoors or on the really spacious terrace area outside, with great views.

The eight of us failed to bring our swimming trunks, so missed out on the chance to have a dip in the pool. Those who tried the washrooms announced that they were definitely  five star, but as we do not have a separate category for loos, we will leave that to one side…

The menu del dia, priced at €18, turned out to be a less-than-perfect way to showcase this lovely venue. The choice  – from 3 starters and 3 mains, was limited and really did not do justice to what will surely turn into a very popular dining attraction. The food started with an amuse bouche of spinach croquettes – uninspiring but pleasant.

For starters we were split between those selecting a tasty and nourishing codfish casserole (potage de vigilia) and those who opted for the excellent Mozarella and tomato salad (ensalada caprese). 

 

No-one chose the gazpacho, but the bread rolls were especially worthy of note, served with the usual choice of allioli or tomato concasse.

For mains (one meat course, one fish course and one vegetarian) most of us selected the grilled chicken – really tasty, and with the vegetables just on the right side of being al dente. Two of us chose the salmon plancha  and pronounced it to be excellent. No-one ventured  to try the espaguetti con calabacin

For postres there were the usual choices including ice cream, fresh fruit and so on. As it was Good Friday most of us opted for the torrijas – A Spanish Easter treat similar to French toast and made with honey, served with cream rich in cinnamon.

There was a good wine selection on offer and our host chose the verdejo known as Cyatho at €12.50 a bottle, and a rather pleasant red – Marques de Griňon at €19.50. Service throughout reflected the fact that this was a very busy time of the year, and no doubt things are still settling in after having opened as recently as the end of March. In other words, service was a bit slow, resulting in meals not being as hot and fresh as they might have been. We would expect this sort of wrinkle to be ironed out as the weeks go by, and the general consensus was that this was exactly the sort of place we would happily come back to with our partners, on a fine summer’s evening.

Cost p.p. €31.85

MR  72                                                                                                                               Visit the website for the restaurant here

 

Nov 042016
 
CUINA DE DOS,                BENISSA      965730789

 ★★★☆☆ 

It takes two to dine… plus two.

dsc01511 dsc01512

Situated off the square just opposite the ‘cathedral’ in Benissa, Cuina de Dos (“Cooking for Two”) is an unprepossessing bar on a pedestrian thoroughfare. We were able to park close by, and found the dining area pleasant and full of Spaniards – always a good sign!

The Menu del dia at 13.50 euros gave us a reasonable choice – three starters and three main courses.

dsc01514

 

 

The starters included a creamy vegetable soup, an impressively generous (and tasty)  goats cheese salad, and a crepe filled with salmon and cheese. The latter was delicious, but requests to have it heated rather than tepid seemed to be a step too far, which was a pity because it was otherwise quite splendid.dsc01521

 

For our main course we were divided between the merluza a la plancha – an excellent and succulent hake – and a pork tenderloin with a delicious cheese sauce. The fries were overlooked on one of the dishes, but this was quickly put right, and the general view was that the meal was really very tasty.

Our host departed from the wines included in the menu, on account of the fact that he had a book published and was celebrating, so we had a very good Albarino (Mar de Frades) and a Rioja (Ramon Bilbao).

dsc01513

 

For sweets we chose tiramisu (home made) and cheese cake (ditto) and both were considered good. The “chocolate biscuit” was certainly chocolate-y, and if the clean plate afterwards was anything to go by was well received!

Coffees and Magno brandies were included on the bill without extra charge – making for a good, solid, three-star dining experience,  much enjoyed by those present.

 

MR  74

May 132016
 
CASA CATY, JALON   Tel  660 832 838

 ★★★★☆ 

Yummy Morrocan lamb

casa caty 027

 

 

This small restaurant is located on Calle Santo Domingo looking onto Plaza Las Ocas in Jalon.

The owners have made maximum use of the available space to accommodate a veritable clutter of tables.

casa caty 025

 

There are two menus del día priced at €13 and €16 and most of us opted for the former. The bread rolls were warm, the alioli fresh and for starters there was a selection of four tapas comprising stuffed peppers, meatballs, salad and fried liver with a particularly tasty sauce.

 

casa caty 017

One of our group opted for the €16 menu and instead of the selection of tapas had a fabulous dish of grilled gambas.casa caty 019

 

Our host kindly traded up on the wines and an unbranded Albariño (€12.50) and a Faustino Crianza (€15) certainly added to enjoyment of the lunch.

 

For main course most of us went for Casa Caty´s speciality – shoulder of lamb cooked Morrocan style for four hours in an oven with honey and dates; delicious.

casa caty 024

 

The remaining member had a rack of ribs which were very tender.

We skipped dessert and instead opted for coffees and our agreeable lunch including tip cost €24 p.p.

 

 

MR 75                                 Buscard Casa Caty 001