Jun 292018
 
ICHIBAN ASIAN,            MORAIRA      966490412

 ★★★★☆ 

Number One!

This was the fourth time our club visited this restaurant in Moraira. It originally opened under the name of La Senieta, in 2014 it became La Serrena, two years later Les Bretonnes de Moraira and now it is a very fine Asian restaurant called Ichiban which apparently means Number One in Japanese. Ichiban is located at 29 Avenida de Madrid and the décor has not really changed over the past four years but it still looks smart.

The menu del día is priced at €11.95 for three courses and includes a glass of house wine. The red was called Vegazur from Ribero del Duero and the white was the well known Campo Viejo from Rioja (€12.50).

For starters we enjoyed Spring rolls and chicken soup. These were followed by Dim Sum and Japanese skewered grilled chicken both well presented and delicious.

Our choice of main courses ranged from duck with orange sauce, to duck – Thai style, to chicken with black pepper sauce and finally  sweet and sour prawns. All dishes were served with either noodles or fried rice.

Terrific food and great value. Indeed our total bill for a wonderful lunch including some beers, wine and brandies, amounted to €22.27 per person.

SL 75

 

Jun 222018
 
CASA SUSI,         MASSEROF          609725356

 ★★★★☆ 

Lunch in the vineyard

Over five years have passed by since we last had lunch at Casa Susi and this family run restaurant, located at km5.5 on the road from Jalon to Sierra Bernia, has now achieved an extra star.

There are two menus del día priced at €17 and €19 for three courses and as much Jalon wine as you can drink included in the price.

 

The restaurant is surrounded by vineyards and the mountain scenery is stunning. Being a hot sunny day everyone chose to dine on the shaded terrace rather than inside.

Susi brought us a tapa of a chicken skewer to accompany our first bottle of Jalon wine.

Some of us followed this up with a delicious gazpacho and others with a large fresh salad.

 

We then all chose the house speciality of lamb with almonds and raisins cooked in a Morrocan Tajin.

Whilst we were enjoying this a musician appeared and entertained us for about an hour.

Our host decided to try Susi´s own branded wine, which is not produced by the Jalon Coop but is still very modestly priced at just €2 a bottle!

We completed our lunch with fruit tarts and ice cream and Susi kindly brought us some mistellas with her compliments. Our lovely relaxing lunch in the vineyards cost €23.62 p.p. It was no surprise that Susi has now moved up to four star status.

RM 79

 

 

May 252018
 
EVEREST SPICE,                  JAVEA        965770230

 ★★★★☆ 

Spice up your taste buds…

You could smell the spices as we were parking the cars and for those of us love Indian or Nepali food we knew we were in for a good feast…

Everest Spice is located at Ctra. la Guardia 127  on the way towards Cabo la Nao and to the south of Arenal, where its sister restaurant, Gurkha Palace operates. The owner and staff  are all from Nepal as is the cuisine.

The menu is extensive and there are two menus del día priced at €8.95 and a three course lunch for  €12.95 which was what we opted for. We were presented with wonderful freshly baked naan bread accompanied by four sauces whilst we decided on our selection of dishes.

There was a choice of five starters and we went for delicious Onion Bhajis as well as Chicken Chhoila.

 

 

 

 

For main course we opted for a substantial Goan King Prawn curry which was offered at different levels of spice – all good.

 

Others in our party had Tandoori mixed grill and Chicken Amilo and were not disappointed. For desserts we enjoyed ice cream.

For wines our host decided to trade up from the house offering and very generously selected Davila Albariño (€21.99) and a 2014 crianza from Ribero del Duero called  Romántica (€23.49). Some our group opted for draft beers.

As it was a warm sunny day we lunched outside in the spacious garden and it was very relaxing. Inspection of the restaurant itself revealed a comfortable atmospheric interior to return to in the future.

The service by the Nepali staff was attentive and friendly.  A lovely afternoon which cost €27.80) p.p.

 

JB 75

 

 

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

Feb 092018
 
LA FONDA,         BENISSA     966394502

 ★★★★☆ 

That fonder feeling

 

La Fonda is a long established traditional Spanish bar/restaurant and B&B that is located at Orxelles 36, which is a side street at the top of the hill in Benissa, just off the Avenida Pais de Valencia, close by a small filling station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently La Fonda was subjected to a make-over and the result is a modern façade and once inside the bar and restaurant,  there is a good mix of dark wood furniture and clean white walls with large framed mirrors.

Although it was a chilly February day our group were welcomed by a warm and friendly ambience.

The menus del dí are priced according to the main course selected and ranged across €11 for chicken, €14 for rice and prawns and €20 for a large entrecote;  for starters we enjoyed large oblong cocas, pilotas and salads.

The house wines were a Rueda called La Casa by Menude and a Monastrell from Alicante called DNA Murviedro, both very acceptable. We completed our lunch with copas of brandy (€1.50) each having enjoyed the friendly ambience and agreeable staff who served well cooked dishes. The cost p.p. was just  €14.71.

JS 79                                                 

Feb 022018
 
RESTAURANTE DEL HIERRO,         JALON       692738016

 ★★★★☆ 

Good lunch in an empty venue

 

The town of Jalon lies almost exactly on the Greenwich meridian and the Calle Mayor runs due north from the Plaza Mayor. It is a narrow street with a few shops and bars and at number 11 is the restaurant Del Hierro. It is not clear how it acquired this name “Of Iron” as it has traded as Indonesian, Chinese and rice restaurants over the past twenty years or so.

On entering the restaurant there is an intimate setting with table linen service, an attractive bar and interesting Spanish tiles on the walls.

 

In the back there is a larger room with the same decor but which was closed as we were the only customers for lunch.

The menu del día costs €16 including pan and alioli but not any drinks. Two of our party went for the menu and the others opted for à la carte. The menu lunchers chose a substantial dish of canelones and a pate with strawberries  and figs.

The others had gambas al ajillo (€5.50) that were in need of some extra salt for flavour.

For main course the choices were medallions of solomillo of pork (€13.50 when not on the menu del día),  magret de pato (€14) and stone grilled entrecote (€16.80).  All well presented and tasty although one the solomillos was a little chewy.

On the wine front our host selected a Rueda Verdejo called Vega Mascan (€13) and a Vegamar Merlot (€12). Both pleasant. Together with coffees and brandies our pleasant lunch in the heart of Jalon cost €29.62 p.p.

LdD  77    

Jan 192018
 
BAR VARETES,            LLIBER          659243832/640788329

 ★★★★☆ 

Tapas under the False Pepper tree

 

The village of Lliber in the Vall de Pop, otherwise known as the Jalon Valley, must rank as one of the prettiest in the Marina Alta.

Many of the streets have had the tarmac stripped off to reveal to the original stone base and one street has a wonderful display of flowers outside each house.

 

 

 

 

There is a set of steps that is often used for wedding photographs and Lliber´s  imposing church overlooks the Plaza Mayor.

 

In fact when our group of lunchers are not heading to the coast we often meet for a pre-lunch drink in the Plaza Mayor under the False Pepper tree just outside Bar Varetes, one of three bar/restaurants in the village square. The tree has become a bit of a legend for freeing up the tongues of those sitting under it.

Bar Varetes changed hands in late 2017 and the new enthusiastic young team have developed the food offering, with a substantial tapas menu. There are almost 30 tapas dishes to choose from as well as other meat and fish plates but we selected a total of seven different tapas to share between us.

 

Our selection included a wonderful Pate del Hierro, Pelotas, Calamar á la romana, Gambas á la plancha, mini burgers called Figatelles and nicely spicey Patatas bravas.

The only tapa that did not meet with universal approval was the Aspencat, a dish of two grilled vegetables served cold.

The wines accompanying our delicious array of tapas were Dársena, a verdejo from Rueda (€9.50) and Montelciego from Rioja (€8.00).

We completed our lunch under the False Pepper tree with the usual coffees, but the brandies were very generously offered by the casa. The cost of this delightful, relaxed repast in the interior of the Marina Alta was a modest €17.17 p.p.

SL 79

 

 

Dec 082017
 
VOLTA I VOLTA,          JAVEA       96504823

 ★★★★☆ 

Subtle tastes and smiling faces

Our club previously visited this restaurant in 2011 when it was called La Musa and run by a Ukrainian family. It scored four stars then and achieved the same rating on this occasion. Volta i Volta is located in the rabbit warren of streets in the old town district of Javea, at Calle Santa Teresa 5, a lovely stone building. It has been redecorated very tastefully and is now under the ownership of Carlos and Marguerita.

As our lunch fell on a public holiday the menu del día was priced at €18, but the restaurant was full so we were happy to proceed. The starters were shitake (mushroom) soup and tagliatelli with guinea fowl, both subtly tasty.

Our generous host selected a Verdejo from Castilla Leon called CuCu (€19) and a Rioja called Siena de Tolono (€17) to accompany our dishes.

For main course we opted for lamb: part grilled leg, part braised skirt. Both delicious, although in common with many Spanish restaurants, somewhat lacking in vegetables.

Dessert was a homemade cheesecake and tasted as such.

Our fun day out in old town Javea, including the usual coffees and brandies cost €29.91 p.p.

RH 75                                                

AL FORN, DENIA

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Dec 012017
 
AL FORN,                 DENIA         966111555

 ★★★★☆ 

A big hit

Al Forn, or to give the restaurant its full name, Al Forn dels Deveses, is located in Plaza Mariana Pineda which is in the emblematic fishing quarter of Denia.

The restored antique wood burning oven, measuring 4 square metres, was originally used for baking bread and gives the interior of the restaurant a warm and welcoming environment.

Restaurant Al Forn is mainly known for its tapas, Spanish dishes and pizzas all of which are cooked in the huge oven and so there is constant activity around this unique feature.

 

The menu del día is priced at €16 and consists of pan/alioli, followed by five starters: salad, croquetas, pescaditos, mussels, and gambas.

 

 

 

The choices for main course were arroz al horno, arroz meloso, pizzas and cocas. We tried all of the dishes and were not disappointed.

There were six desserts “de la casa”.

Our host chose a Ribero del Duero red called  Hito  (€19) to accompany our excellent and atmospheric lunch. Hito was a big hit with our members and as a consequence the cost of lunch,  including coffees and brandies, edged up to almost €30 p.p.

PM 76                                              

 

Oct 132017
 
THE HOUSE AT TORMOS,      TORMOS      965587136

 ★★★★☆ 

Hidden gem

 

This a boutique hotel that also operates as a restaurant. It is located at 17 Calle San Luis Bertran in the town of Tormos but curiously there is no signage on the building to indicate what lies behind the large door at number 17.

 

On entering there is a delightful hall with a long refectory type table.

 

 

 

Further on there  is a walled garden where we enjoyed pre-lunch drinks.

 

 

The menu was priced at €25 and provided a choice of four dishes for each course. For starters the choice was tandoori chicken, Greek salad, and garlic or chilli prawns. All delicious.

 

 

The main course options were chicken à la king, baked fish, spinach and ricotta pasta or pan fried steak. Again all excellent.

 

Desserts ranged from Eton mess, orange cake with ice cream or cherry fool.

 

Included in the price of the meal was a glass of cava and a carafe of wine between two people. This is a great venue run by British owners and you have to book in advance as the lunches are only served to pre booked clients rather than passing trade.

JS 79