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

 Denia  No Responses »  Tagged with:
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

 

Jun 302017
 
RESTAURANTE AZAHAR, BALCÓN AL MAR, JAVEA  965770047

 ★★★★☆ 

Lunch under the rubber tree

Balcón al Mar is a residential district of Javea to the south of Arenal between Cap Negre and Cap de la Nao. At number 3 Calle Cap Negre is to be found Restaurante Azahar, with its huge Ficus or Rubber tree. We chose to have lunch under this tree which provided a relaxing, comfortable ambience.

The menu del día is priced at €12.90 for three courses and includes a half bottle of acceptable house wine, bread and alioli.

The Thai mussels were the popular choice for the first course and the lenguado and lamb dishes were the dominant main courses.

 

 

 

 

Some of the main courses incurred a price surcharge and one of our party chose to go off piste to savour Caesar salad and Cordon Bleu.

 

 

Our host decided to trade up for white wine with a very enjoyable Alberiño called Lagar de Indra (€16).  

The only negative about eating under the Rubber tree were the flies, but this was a small price to pay for such a great outing.

The overall cost p.p. for this lunch including desserts, brandies and coffees amounted to €28.67.

JB 78

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                                                    

 

 

May 122017
 
LA FONTANA,                  JAVEA             965790417

 ★★★★☆ 

Life´s a beach

A first welcome to the Arenal district of Javea for the 2017 season and to La Fontana, a family owned and recently renovated restaurant, in business since 1963.

All but one of our members opted for the €16 menu del día, the odd man out chose the €21 version, the difference being in the price of the main course.

 

The wines selected by our host were a Rueda Verdejo called Cyatho (€13) and a Rioja called Carramimbre (€13.50); judging by consumption, both well appreciated.

 

 

The starters chosen were a combo of three tapas, chiperones (squid) and garlic prawns, all tasty, although the prawns were slightly overcooked.

 

 

The main course was an excellent paella con marisco, lamb and from the premium menu a slightly overcooked beef tenderloin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our desserts were crema catalan and mousse de coco, providing a pleasant conclusion to our enjoyable lunch. Chopitos were graciously offered by the establishment. Cost p.p. €25.22. Good value for a front line Javea restaurant.

RH 75