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.