Apr 012016
NEW VENTA ROJA,         LLIBER         965731039


new venta roja 014


This landmark restaurant on the CV 750 Jalon-Benissa road, overlooking the vineyards of Lliber in the Vall del Pop, has changed management and name four or five times over the past ten years and our last review was in 2013 when it scored two stars.

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The menu del día costs €13 and includes three starters, a main course and dessert. The first of our starters was a substantial chicken salad and this was followed by strips of jamon with a fried quail´s egg. The third starter was fresh calamari rings.
The house wines from the Jalon Co-op were passed over by our host in favour of a pleasant Rioja crianza called Azabache (€12), which had the effect of pushing up the cost of our lunch.

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For main course we had merluza (hake) in mussels sauce, beef steak with salsa, and one of our group chose pigs cheek with sauce from the à la carte menu for a supplement of €6. We agreed that perhaps with a little less sauce, the dishes could have been more distinctive.
The desserts were bought in ice cream tarts and together with brandies and coffee our lunch cost €27.90 p.p.

new venta roja 009
Because this restaurant can accommodate over 100 diners, perhaps the management could consider opening one area at a time so that a bit of atmosphere is created; at the moment this is lacking despite the friendly service.new venta roja 015new venta roja 016






SL 68

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Jul 032015
EL SECRETO DEL TOMATE,  JAVEA                   966462646


Well Hidden

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On the road from Gata de Gorgos to Javea, more or less opposite the tanatoria, you will find Restaurante El Secreto del Tomate. You can easily miss it, because it is hidden behind a wall of conifers. There is plenty parking space, and passing the entrance unfolds a rural venue where you can choose to sit on the lawn or more sheltered under the trees. When the weather is less pleasant you go indoors.

q8This restaurant is founded by Kiko, a lawyer from Valencia. Unique selling points are the vegetables from the garden and that all dishes are cooked on the barbecue.

The menu costs €14,90 or €15,90 depending of the chosen main course. Drinks are not included. Lunch is only served on Fridays and the weekend.

The menu consists of homemade bread with a very nice tomato salsa, tasty pimiento de padron, salad, a starter, main course and dessert. For main course you can choose either young chicken (called picantón), chicken, costilla de tenera or Lubina.

Some of our lunchers chose for starters a nice vegetable soup, and the others opted for a bowl of tasty lentils. For the main course we had respectively the picantón, and the barbecued costilla de ternera. Our host selected a fresh rosada called Las Campanas from Navarra (€ 11) followed by a pleasant red wine from Ribero del Duero “Quinta de Tarsus Crianza 2011” (€22).

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Sitting in the shade of the trees we had a most enjoyable lunch, well prepared, and  served by a friendly staff. The lunch was completed with some cheese in order to finish the red wine, and followed by coffee and a smooth brandy.

This lunch experience cost an average of €27,86 per person.


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Jun 122015
LA TORRE,                   ALCALALI                   966482649   a Outside


 Three stars seen from the Tower

Today we took our Friday lunch club back to its roots by seeking out a traditional Spanish Menu del dia restaurant with unpretentious local cuisine in a traditional village setting… Hence we returned to Alcalalí in the Vall de Pop, to visit the restaurant La Torre, housed in a an old townhouse right in the heart of village, next to the church.

A room with a view?

A room with a view?

We dined inside, but in summer you can dine ‘al fresco’ in the adjacent square, to soak up the Spanish atmosphere.. One is greeted by the owner Jaime Ferrer, who is very personable, speaks good English and displays a seasoned understanding of British tastes in both food and humour! The menus del dia displayed on a portable blackboard offer a very varied choice of typical Spanish dishes ranging from roast chicken (€10,80) to Entrecote steak (€21,00). Like many local restaurants, the choice of main course dictates the cost of the 3-course menu. On this occasion, 4 of us opted for the “mixto de tapas” as a starter, whilst one rebel member broke ranks and plumped for a very generous plate of melon with Jamon Serrano. Other temptations included gazpacho, paté with ‘tostadas’ and calamares.



The main courses were all good ‘honest’ Spanish dishes – no fancy designer brush strokes on today’s plates, the only streaks left on the plates were those left by the diner mopping up the last bit of the sauce with bread! The pork fillet in mushroom sauce was polished off by one member, leaving his plate forensically clean. Conejo ( rabbit) cooked in a mustard sauce was another members choice and was deemed ‘thumpin’ good. Despite its country location, La Torre always offers fresh fish dishes – Jaime particularly recommended the lenguado (sole) a la plancha, which turned out to be very fresh, thick and succulent -a pleasant change from some of the thin, elongated and rather dry specimens one can encounter. Your hosting member today selected fresh, ‘unfettered’ Calamari – 5 entire little squid, which were interestingly seasoned and very soft – delicioso!!

Lenguado  a la plancha

Lenguado a la plancha








The desserts were home made and included a very colourful forest-fruit tart – a must try! 014


The house wines (Vinalopó 2015 red, and  “Acanto” – sauvignon blanc 2014 white – half a bottle p.p. included) were above average; indeed none of us felt the need to go “off-piste” into the wine list. All the above is accompanied by the infamous bread and ali-oli (garlic mayonnaise) – its infamy stemming from its ability to offend, later in the day, the olfactory glands of the most stalwart, but absent partners!

Price per person on this occasion including drinks, came to €20.66 per person

MH 74        Buscard 1 001    Buscard2 001

Jun 072013

LA LLAURA DORA         DENIA    966431764


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Calle Loreto is a pedestrian street in Denia with lots of bars and restaurants and it is a pleasant experience to wander along whilst itinerant musicians create a bohemian atmosphere.


At No.12 is La Llaura Dora de Loreto which is located on the site of a former convent and school. In the courtyard is a statue of Our Lord and it was under His gaze that we tucked into a most enjoyable lunch.


The menu del día is priced at just €10 for two courses, dessert or coffee and includes one glass of wine or beer. The food is unpretentious and the presentation basic, but nonetheless the meal was tasty and wholesome.


For starters most of us chose cocas which are mini pizzas, or arroz a banda and for main course the popular choices were chuletas de cordero and a tender solomillo al strogonoff.DSC01028


Our wines were a Rueda Verdejo called Vera Cruz and a Crianza from Ribero del Duero both priced between €12 and €14. We were served by a friendly and enthusiastic Colombian lady who contributed in no small way to our good spirits. Total cost p.p. €24.


JB  74        



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Apr 122013


Four gourmets at Le Gourmand!

A while back, Le Gourmand decided to make a move inland, perhaps wishing to distance itself from its next-door neighbour  (Scallops). A wise move! It now occupies a lovely position immediately below the sheer wall of the side of Montgo, half way to Jesus Pobre. Elegant al fresco dining on a lovely sunny day enhanced the experience – all purple-and-white.

The restaurant offers a menu del dia (three courses) for  €15 to include red or white vino de la casa. Our canny host stayed with the house wine – a wise move because both were particularly good. The white was a Nuviano 2012 (chardonnay) and the 2011 spicy red, from the same stable, combined Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo grapes to a most pleasing effect. A second bottle followed, at a very reasonable  €10.80.

For starters we were offered three choices, and all were selected. The courgette and tomato quiche was moist, tasty and without the mind-numbing blandness which is so often found with this particular type of starter! The roasted goat cheese on a bed of lettuce might have been better with a little more garnish, but was otherwise well-received, and the chicken liver salad was pronounced “good”.

For the main course we all passed on the offer of poussin with brandy and grapes, two of us opting for a most excellent lamb tajine with crystallized lemon. This gave the (Moroccan) dish a flavour which was downright delicious! The French cut of beef called an onglet, served with shallots was also especially tasty, while our host polished off a dish of clams and prawns, pan-fried with vegetables.

The menu offered us  dessert of the day or ice cream or sorbet, but most of us opted for a three euro surcharge which gave us a medley of half a dozen “tasters” to go with our coffee – a mouthful of fruit salad, a spot of ice cream, a miniature slice of chocolate cake, a macaroon and a snifter of strawberry puree. Delicious!

It has to be said: this is not a restaurant to go to if you are in a rush – service is sedate but very friendly. It made  for a delightful afternoon under the shade of a large umbrella, and regrettably we never even ventured inside the building to be able to comment on the interior!

The total cost of this gourmet experience was  €24.24  per head.

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Apr 132012

L´ANTIGA ESCOLA, TOLLOS (34) 965518328


Toiling in Tollos


This was the fifth visit since 2004 by our Lunch Club to the inland village of Tollos, about a fifteen minute drive to the east of Castell de Castells.

The owner of Antiga Escola, Scotsman David Peterson, has been toiling away in this wonderful restaurant in the old village schoolhouse for the past eleven years and, as he is going to retire on June 3rd 2012, if you want an outstanding lunch in a mountain countryside setting, book soon.

The Antiga Escola is open for lunch from Thursday to Sunday and is offering a Farewell Menu for €22 not including wine. We were presented with a flavoursome amuse bouche before our starters arrived; these included toasted goat´s cheese with homemade chutney, a spinach crepe and a Thai prawn salad –all freshly made and delicious.

For main course our group selected roast pork with apricots and wild boar in a rich wine sauce. The choice of other dishes ranged from roast mountain lamb, to oven baked cod or salmon, to entrecote or Thai chicken curry.

Our selection of desserts were apple pie and ice cream and chocolate mousse, both homemade. The other desserts on offer were blueberry & almond pie, Chocolate Decadence with ice cream & hot chocolate sauce or tropical fruit sorbet.

With our lunch we enjoyed the Marques de Riscal Verdejo Rueda and a Toro wine called Gago which were priced at €15 & €19 respectively. Together with coffees the total cost of an exceptional lunch came to €35.50 p.p.

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NB This restaurant closed in June 2012

Apr 062012

TICO-TICO, BENISSA (34) 965748352


Tasty fare at Benissa sur Mer

Benissa is not just the name of the hilltop town in the Marina Alta , but the district that stretches down to the Mediterranean coastal strip between Moraira & Calpe. It is here at Partida Baladrar, close by the landmark luxury supermarket of Pepe la Sal, that one finds the long established Tico-Tico.

The style and décor is typically Spanish with tiled floors, beamed ceilings and no-nonsense high backed chairs around tables with linen table cloths.

The menu del día is priced according to one´s choice of main course and ranges from €9.70 for merluza or roast chicken up to €14.50 for entrecote steak. Most of the dishes are priced at €10.80 and it was from these that we primarily selected.

After having the traditional helping of pan alioli, we all chose the same starter, a rather bland shrimp cocktail that was lacking in any character.

Tico-Tico´s chef performed better with our main course selections; duck in a rich orange sauce, shoulder of lamb and entrecote with a pepper sauce all served with perfectly cooked chips.

For dessert we had chocolate mousse, home made ice cream and a fresh fruit salad – all good. Although the menu del día included a half bottle of the house wine per person (Don Hugo red & Don Darius white) our generous host kindly insisted on ordering Darsena Ruedo and Martina Berdugo Rioja and, along with coffees and brandies, the total cost of this enjoyable meal in pleasant Spanish surroundings crept up to €21.95 p.p.


MR  (74)







Dec 092011
L´ESCUT, JAVEA  Tel. (+34) 96 577 05 07


An oasis in suburbia

L´Escut is to be found in an unimposing building in the suburbs of Javea on the way to Portitxol. Once inside however, the restaurant has a cosy, lived-in feel to it and the tables are elegantly dressed. The menu del diá is competitively priced at €12.95 including a glass of the house wine from La Mancha.

We were served warm bread rolls with a tangy homemade alioli whilst we chose from the extensive menu. For starters we selected ensalada mixta which was fresh & colourful, an excellent asparagus soup and rather bland croquettes of cod, chicken and stewed meat.

A sorbet preceded the main course of diced beef in a rich sauce, delicious sautéed chicken and fillets of sole with a fiery pepper sauce. Desserts were chocolate mousse, ice cream with a raspberry sauce and a sorbet of tropical fruits – all tasty.

Neither of the wines our host selected were available but the replacements, Val de Troncesa from Albariño and Carmelo Rodero from Ribero del Duero (somewhat pricey at €26 a bottle), were both appreciated. Unfortunately we were once again the only diners in the restaurant but the warm ambiance and pleasant but attentive service made for an enjoyable experience.

Total cost p.p. €25.70

NB  The restaurant is on the right hand side of the road leading East from Javea  going up towards Cabo La Nao.

MR 79

Nov 182011
LA POLENTA, TEULADA    965741423  (now closed).


Going, going, gone!

No matter how good the food is, it´s difficult to enjoy a meal in a large empty restaurant such as La Polenta, at 38 Avenida Mediterraneo, the main street running through Teulada.

The barn-like restaurant has an attractive patio in the rear but the inclement November weather confined us to indoors.

Florin, our Romanian Maitre D´, ran us through the €9 menu del dia and most of us selected either the well presented, but rather bland house pâté, or the vegetable soup which curiously had pieces of chicken in it.

For main course we selected either Monkfish or a tasty Risotto dish. There was no meat dish available on the menu del diá but La Polenta has a second menu where, for €6 each dish, one could select from a range of salads, pizzas or pastas, so some of our team worked off this menu and were pleased they did. Finally our carnivorous diner went á la carte and had magret de pato/canard.

For dessert most of us played safe and had ice cream, but a crepes dish had to be sent back because the chef had omitted to cook it.

Perhaps it was the gloomy weather, but our drinks bill was greater than the food bill and included the house white and red wine, both from Valdepeñas and called Diego del Almagro, a pricey Ribero del Duero called Camino de Castilla, as well as coffees to accompany some 103 brandy. This brought the total cost p.p. to €26.83.

JLB 60   (N.B. This restaurant closed December 2011)



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Nov 042011
EL PORT, DENIA  Tel 965784973


Sole, but lacking soul…

The aptly named El Port is to be found amongst a row of restaurants and bars looking onto the harbour of Denia at Explanada Bellavista. Because it was a wet November day, we sat outside the main restaurant in an area with plastic walls and an umbrella heater that we had turned off, that would otherwise have been an al fresco experience in summer.

The menu del dia was priced at €11.95. We started with crepes de langostinos  & setas which were acceptable but not exciting, or a very substantial serving of calamares which we all shared. For the main course there was a dish of mixed fish, which was declared as excellent, also sole fillets also pronounced excellent, fillet of pork, which was good but not special and monkfish a la marinera which turned out to be two tired strips of monkfish swimming in a sad tomato soup.

For desserts most of us went for the profiteroles, but others for crème catalan or chocolate mousse.

We started with the white house wine which was from Navarra but we switched to Cantosan Verdejo from Rueda and a Rioja Crianza called Pergamino.

Maybe our experience would have been better on a sunny day.

Price p.p.  €20.24.

El Port, Bellavista, 12, 03700 Denia

                                                                                                                              RH 60