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Triana Bar & Restaurant, Valle del Este, Vera

26 Aug

Last weekend we went up to the pool at Valle del Este, 10 minutes from here.  We used to go here a lot at weekends before we had our own swimming pool as they have a beautiful one and as long as it is not too busy, they let you use the pool, I guess because you will have drinks and lunch etc.

 

Next door to the pool area is a commercial centre albeit a small one.   There are a couple of restaurants and bars here and our favourite is one called Triana.

It has recently been refurbished and extended and has lovely views over the hills beyond the golf course.  It is a family run business, and the very charming son speaks English very well.  Mum cooks the most delicious food – there is an extensive tapas menu which we normally choose from, dishes ranging from 1.50 euros for a small tapa to 5/8 euros or so for a racion (a larger portion suitable for 3 or 4 to share).  Our favourite is the aubergine deep fried and drizzled with honey – it is divine and no matter how I plead, they won’t give me the recipe!  There is something for every taste (including children, who don’t normally go for tapas in a big way!), from prawns to chicken “tears” (a little like tiny chicken nuggets), and clams, chorizo – the list just goes on.

If you do want a more substantial meal and you like fish, order the cod – it is fantastic. They are also famous for their rice dishes on a Sunday, but you have to pre-order these. The meat dishes are delicious too and there really is something for everyone.

Do try it for a lovely relaxed early evening drink, or a linger over a selection of really fantastic dishes – as it is only 10 minutes from here, it is lovely to go there when I feel like a night off!

Triana Bar & Restuarant, Valle del Este, Vera telephone number: 950 461 182

 

 

 

 

 

 

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El Canadas Bar & Restaurant, Cuevas del Almanzora

19 Aug

My cousin April is with us at the moment, with her partner James and part of their fantastic brood.  James has triplet boys and April has one of her daughters here too.  They arrived a few days ago in an absolutely brilliant motor home, taking their time and stopping nearLeonto stay with some friends.  We all decided we needed a night off from cooking and cleaning up and we also wanted to go somewhere low key and away from the crowds.

So, what better place than the “brasa” opposite the castle in Cuevas.  April and James have been here before, and like us, they love it.  Ok, you don’t get a sea breeze ( neither the cocktail, nor the literal one) but what you do get is the most fantastic array of grilled meat – racks of pork ribs, spicy pork kebabs, quail, chorizo and morcilla (black pudding) to name a few things on offer here every night of the week, every month of the year.  Add a huge salad and some fries and all the kids are happy as well as all of us too.  In August when everyone else is at the beach, they are delighted to serve us.

Not a word of English is spoken here but lots of great and friendly service.  It is a family affair, with mama doing all the cooking over a roasting open brasa – no mean feat in 90 degrees!  Whatever you order here, including drinks, always seems to come out at around 15 euros including a tip.  They also seem to have cottoned on that us “visitors” like reasonably decent wine with their food, and now serve very good white and red rioja, previously the wine, it has to be said, was undrinkable and only came in the house red variety!  There are some fabulous photographs of Cuevas del Almanzora in days gone by (when there was a proper river flowing through it!) so take a moment to look at these wonderful momentos.

This really is an experience not to be missed and we go there all year round – in the winter it is lovely and cosy and we sit inside, being toasted by the wood burning grill, and in the summer, we enjoy eating outside and staying late until it gets cool, and mingling with the locals.  Do give it a try the next time you just fancy some great barbeque and salad and a lovely glass of vino.

 

Mi Casa Bar and Restaurant, Antas

9 Aug

We are spoilt for places to eat and drink in and around Cuevas – we have everything from a funny Spanish “pub” in Cuevas (it is the nearest thing we have to a proper Irish pub, but it is very Spanish!) to beach bars and restaurants, which you know I feature regularly, but both in and out of season. Mi Casa is a gorgeous bar near us which is part of a small hotel on one side of the road, and a restaurant/bar on the other!  It has recently been refurbished and now the interior could actually be a bar in any big city so chicly has it been done.  In the summer there is a long terrace facing the road but still lovely as it is shady and is surrounded by plants and trees and you can watch the world go by.

We call the owner Tommy Lee (as he reminds us of the actor!) – he is lovely and usually can be found about the place.  It is about a 6 minute drive from the house (2 of those are on our track!) and is just a great place to have a well earned, end of work, end of the week drink.  They do a mean gin and tonic over loads of ice or a chilled glass of wine or beer.

The restaurant is great too, though I feel a little on the pricey side, but then as said, it is a bit more sophis than usual for around here.  The food is excellent though, they always have a great selection of fish, shellfish or meat, salads  or just have a tapa or two in the bar or on the terrace.

Next time we have a night off I think we will mosey on down there. We especially love this photo of Mi Casa from 1973.

Mi Casa Bar & Restaurant Telephone Number: 950 453 048

Chiringuito D’Maruja, Puerto Rey Playa

5 Aug

Yesterday I managed to drag Mick out of his office to meet up with our lovely friends, David and Graeme, for lunch!  As it is August, London business is quieter for Mick, whilst of course, mine is full on, so it is important to get away for a few hours and take a bit of holiday time ourselves.  David and Graeme have been here for a long time and so know all kinds of out of the way places – they are also very chic and therefore I am always eager to go anywhere that they like!

So off we went at1 o’clock and had a pre-lunch cocktail at their beautiful place near the beach, only 15 minutes drive from us.  David called the restaurant to make sure we could have a table upon arrival – top tip, never leave it until 2 pm in Spain to lunch anywhere on the beach – the Spanish literally take every table in sight during July and August at five to two!  So either book, or arrive at 1.30 pm.

Anyhow, with an assurance that our table would be waiting (David and Graeme are well known here!) off we went.  Well, I have never come across this part of the beach in 7 and a half years of living here.  A little tricky to find, it is situated between Vera beach and Garrucha, D’Maruja is only one of two Chiringuitos on this stretch of beach.  The other thing that should be noted is that the beach itself is simply divine –white sand all the way and the water as calm and blue as anything.  There are beds and umbrellas for hire in front of the restaurant and so it makes a perfect location for a whole day out.

But back to D’Maruja itself – ok get this – they only have to open for around 7 weeks a year and so after the 1st week in September you will have to wait until the middle of July next year to dine here!  It is basically a huge structure covered with canvas – there are lots of kind of portable kitchens at the back, cooking the most amazing array of delicious food and a little different too than the normal fayre.  I guess they have enough tables for 100 people here and puts me in mind of Le Club 55 in St Tropez (the first beach bar there) only about a million euros cheaper!  Go for the berenjena, pimiento y cebollo (Tempura of aubergine, green peppers and onion rings like you have never had in your life).

Next time we go, I am taking a small pot of chilli sauce with me!  Then there is the usual fantastic salad and after that a huge choice of meat or fish – we all had veal escalope just because I had cooked fish for two days running at home and I needed a meat fix!  But you can be sure that everything here is freshly cooked and absolutely delicious because their clientele is clearly very important to them (most of the houses on this stretch are upwards of a million euros and so standards are high).  We didn’t have any room for dessert – I would concentrate on the starters and mains frankly.  We had a few glasses of wine and the boys drank beer and lots of water.  Our bill came to an amazing 20 euros a head with a tip!  You can’t complain at that can you?  Suffice it to say we will be cramming in as many visits as possible before they close during the second week of September!

David and Graeme have come up trumps again!

Chringuito D’Maruja, Puerto Rey Playa Telephone number: 629 614 880

Las Nenas Restaurant, Huercal Overa

1 Aug

Last night we headed off to one of our larger local towns, Huercal Overa, to meet up with friends for dinner.  It was our friend Sue’s birthday and so we were taken to a new discovery by them – we were warned that it was “on the pricey side” but thought, hey, we deserve it!  Anyhow, we love Huercal Overa old town with its pretty squares, arches and old church and don’t really go there often enough, even though it is only 15 minutes drive away, so we parked the car and took a stroll towards where Gordon had directed us.

We arrived first and so sat outside for a pre dinner drink in the pedestrian street – the décor inside the bar is very modern and beautifully done. The owners hail from Huercal Overa itself, but the chef, Semi Garcia, previously worked in a two star Michelin restaurant in Alicante called El Girasol (The Sunflower).

The restaurant is set on the first floor of this beautiful old family home, reached by a marble staircase,  and  has been elegantly converted to a series of stunning dining areas, rarely seen, it has to be said, in this region.  There are two private dining rooms and then the main restaurant which is made up of tables for two or four, whereas the private dining rooms are for larger parties of around 10 people.  They can offer tailor made menus for special occasions or dietary requirements at a fixed price.

Gordon and Sue have been here twice before and so knew what a treat we were in for!  Semi Garcia and his partner are clearly passionate about what they do and he explained that although it is a legal requirement to provide a written menu, much of what he was offering us didn’t appear on it!  He is a great salesman and before we knew it we had ordered far too many starters.  His partner has a great command of the English language too and so was able to explain in great detail, what was on offer.  They have an array of salads which are more likely to be seen on menus in foodie regions such as San Sebastian than around here, beautiful leaves, grilled goats cheese, pineapple, top quality pata negra (the jamon from the acorn fed pigs) and served with a complex tasting dressing.  We had the plumpest and softest steamed mussels with a hint of lemon and wine, fried baby squid and boquerones (fresh anchovies, a little like whitebait), pate – more like a home made terrine – so we all dove in and then panicked about leaving room for the main course.

The boys had cod roasted with a little chilli and olive oil served on a bed of finely chopped vegetables – I thought of my father when this arrived – he has a passion for cod, and the size of these pieces were enough to make me remember to take him there when he is here next.  Sue has solomillo de buey – fillet of Ox – just incredible in size and quality, and I had Secreto iberico, literally secret pork – it is a cut which is not pretty to look at, but I have cooked it myself at home and the flavour is sensational. It is a cut from the back of the shoulder and is marbled with fat (hence the taste!).  The portion was so massive it would have been enough for 2 or 3 people.

Unfortunately we just could not manage any of their home made desserts this time – but they look pretty amazing.

With a couple of bottles of wine, drinks and plenty of mineral water plus coffee our bill came to a reasonable 35 euros a head.  This is one of the best restaurants I have eaten in since we moved here 7 years ago.  Please try it and make sure that it keeps going!

Las Nenas Restauarant Huercal Overa Telephone Number: 950 470 185

Lola’s Restaurant and Bar, Mojacar Playa

28 Jun

On Saturday Mick and I had a real day off – unless we leave the Cortijo, we do all kinds of worky things which we just can’t resist!  “Oh I will just do this or that for half an hour” but it never is – it always ends up being half the day or more!  So, I reminded him that ‘we’ had decided to go to the beach for the day.  All we had to do was pick one.  So we chose Mojacar as it is lovely and lively at this time of year, without being unbearable.  We have lots of favourites down there, and the great thing is that you can hire beds and umbrellas for a few euros each (I think it is 7 for 2 beds and a shade right on the water).

Mojacar beach is a mere 20 minute drive from here and it is truly gorgeous.  Seldom in other parts of Spain are you able to drive right along the coast adjacent to the beach without there being at least one line of property all along the front – well you can here and as you drive around the corner from Garrucha, there it is – the beautiful, turquoise Mediterranean and an expanse of sand which stretches for miles and miles.

To reach all the beach bars is around another 5 minute drive, past the little shopping centre and the Parador – and there are the beach bars – lots of them and all good. Mauiis a favourite but on Saturdays it gets incredibly busy in the late afternoon with lots of good looking kids taking a look at each other!  So we park up on the beach (how fabulous is that!) and then walk along the shore to Lola’s, the third or fourth one along.  They have comfy beds both on the beach, and yes, chillout beds in the restaurant itself if you want to lie down with a cocktail in full shade!  It is just fantastic fun and puts you in mind of a Californian beach restaurant, with its bleached driftwood style.

You can have a great lunch at most of the bars it has to be said – Mick and I were good and had salads and mineral water as I am on a bit of a bikini diet!!!  But there are lots of delicious things to choose from if you want a long, lingering lunch.  Be warned, in Spain it is advisable to turn up for lunch at 1.30 or 3.30 – the Spaniards descend at 2 p.m.pretty much on the dot, and you can wait a long time to be served and forever if you don’t have a reservation.  What Mick and I normally do, is arrive at the beach, pick our restaurant and reserve a table anyway.  That way there are no disappointments and if you are new to the area it is fun to mooch along the beach looking at menu’s and maybe stopping for a coffee or a beer before a bit of sunbathing.

No wonder this is my favourite time of year!

La Pequena Taberna Restaurant, Murica

21 Jun

I know I have blogged about Murcia before, but feel it is worth mentioning again and again.  When you live in the countryside/beach, you get a real kick out of going to a city where there are proper shops (I mean like Zara and Aldolfo Dominguez!) Murcia, though a bit further than, say,Almeria, is just a great day out and not just for shopping.  There are plenty of reasons to go – buildings, a river, yes with water in it (those of you who have been here will know what I mean), a new concert hall, and botanical gardens, not to mention the fabulous restaurants here.  One of which is La Pequena Taberno, situated in a small square called Plaza deSan Juan, near the Cathedral.

You know when you have arrived at the right square, as you will see several very classy, understated restaurants, with the most stunning displays of aubergines, tomatoes, kumquats and the like outside each one.  You can sit outside or actually at this time of year it is probably preferable to sit in the coolness of the interior.

The food is, well, classy Spanish – there are lots of different menus at different prices, with a huge range of fabulous Murcian dishes (and costing half that you would pay inLondon!) or you can have raciones (large portions of tapas) which are just as tasty and interesting.  There is something for everyone here, and if you are a fish eating vegetarian, you will also not be disappointed.  I urge you to try it, if only for a drink and rather than talk about the menu in too much detail, take a look at their website.

If you are visiting here on holiday and flying into Murcia, if you have an evening return flight, why not go via Murcia City for lunch (thus avoiding the 13 euro toll!) – you will need an hour to get to the airport of San Javier from there.

La Pequena Taberna Restaurant Telephone: 968 21 98 40

Miramar Restaurant, Bedar

15 Jun

Last night was our friends, Cal and Matt’s last night so we decided to take a little trip up into Bedar.  There are two very good reasons for going there.  The temperature is beautifully cool at night, it is quite high up and usually there is a very light breeze.  Secondly, the restaurant El Miramar (Mirror of the Sea) is just fantastic.  The menu is usual Spanish fare but it is the position and the view which are the main reasons for going there.  Mirror of the sea indeed – on one side of the terrace you are surrounded by mountain views – on the other, miles and miles of countryside, and then the sea.  It is simply gorgeous.

Last night was no exception – we had a table on the busy little terrace and drinks were brought immediately.  (Actually, you can just go for a drink if you wish).  The menu is consistently good with lots of choice.  It is pretty much grilled meat of fish for mains, done very, very well andCalsaid that he hadn’t had chips like this in years!  There are plenty of good starters as well – a few choices of soup (the traditional fish soup is delicious), gazpacho and soup of the day, salads, calamari etc.  It is good value too – expect to pay 25 euros for two courses with wine and coffee – we didn’t have any pud, but again there is plenty to choose from.

One has so much choice around us, that sometimes we forget about Bedar as a possibility – it is only 20 minutes away, and after last night it is definitely back on our top 10 list of restaurants.

 

 

 

 

Miramar Restaurant, Bedar telephone: 950 469 308

La Parranda Restuarant, Murcia

16 Mar

If you follow my blog, you will know we had a trip up to Murcia a couple of Saturdays ago.  We crammed some shopping in, but more important than shopping is of course, eating and drinking!  Murcia for us is pretty much undiscovered, and as Spain’s 10th largest city, there is quite a lot to discover both culturally and cuisine wise.  As we were in one of the familiar parts to us, i.e. around the Cathedral and old town, we went for the third time to our favourite restaurant, La Parranda.

La Parranda restaurant frontage

We first discovered it about 5 years ago when we stayed overnight on our way to Valencia for a little city break.  We could see La Parranda from our hotel bedroom window in the Plaza San Juan amongst several other rather marvellous looking places.

 

The are about 4 or 5 and I would be happy to go into any one of them – they have tables outside with patio heaters in the winter time and fabulous displays of trugs or glass vases containing  vast amounts of tomatoes or aubergines – they are quite stunning.

Outside eating area - beautiful in Spring and Summer

Anyhow, the thing about La Parranda is that when you order your first drink, you are treated to a bowl of big fat olives along with the biggest potato crisps you have ever seen in your life, and we loved this gem of extravagant bar snacks that we just feel the need to go there on every trip.  I think La Parranda comes from the verb Parrandearse, to go out on the town but I could be wrong!  Cheap it is not, but sophisticated it is, and we are not talking London prices either.

Olives and big crisps

We decided to stay at the bar, on high stools and around tall round tables, and order from the tapas and racion menu (Racion is a more substantial portion than a tapa, and often enough for two or three of you to share).  We had boquerones (anchovies) on toast, peppers stuffed with salt cod, morcilla (black pudding), grilled pork loin in tiny baguettes, meltingly tender, a huge salad of the most delicious green tomatoes that you get here, with hearts of palm – I can’t remember whether we had anything else to eat, but the menu is pretty vast just in the bar area.

One of the tempting salads

With a few drinks the bill came to 50 euros with a tip for three of us – I imagine it would be double the price in London. Each time I eat really authentic and posh Spanish food, it inspires me to get out my Spanish cook books and be a bit more inventive rather than sticking to the things I know and am confident cooking.

 

Next time we are in this area of Murcia, though, I think we have to have a drink and a snack in each of the other restaurants in Plaza Juan – they all look worthy of a peak inside.

La Parranda telephone number: 968 220 675

 

 

 

 

 

 

Osteria Restuarant, Mojacar

2 Mar

Today is Mick’s birthday – and his mum, Sadie’s.  What a birthday present!  Although Sadie always says she couldn’t have wished for a nicer one.  Anyhow, Sadie is with us for a couple of weeks which we planned so that they could spend their birthday’s together which they do every couple of years.  It is lovely, they are very close and it is wonderful to watch them enjoying each other’s company.  So today Mick took a very rare midweek afternoon off so that we could go out for lunch – our friends Mike and Gill came along too.  We have known about Osteria for ages – it is an Italian restaurant on the way up to Mojacar Pueblo and we have heard nothing but good things about it but somehow, we always seem to end up going somewhere else.

 

So we arrived at 1.30 ish and had drinks at the bar.  Immediately, we liked the place – airy, tables not too close to each other and a very bright interior on a sunny day such as today.

Happy Birthday Mum!

The menu was very varied and large but not scarily so.  It does need a bit of concentration though so you need to stop the chit chat and give it a bit of time.  All restaurants here have a menu del dia for around 10 euros for three courses excluding drinks and Osteria is no exception.  There is plenty to choose from and really one could come here a couple of times a week on that basis.  The a la carte is extensive – no pizzas on this menu though, but plenty of fantastic pasta dishes, a huge variety of starters, salads, carpaccio, gnocchi, deep fried goats cheese to name a few.  Then a couple of dozen main courses, mainly veal, steak, chicken or lamb, pasta of course, and today’s fish was a beautifully presented swordfish.  By the time dessert came I was completely full but again, there were plenty of delicious things to choose – profiteroles, tarts, fruit salad – the usual kind of Italian fayre.

 

Today, although a mild high 60’s we ate inside, but in a month or so we will definitely come again and eat on the pretty terrace outside.

 

If you dine a la carte, expect to pay 30 euros per head with wine for two courses, but as said, you could easily get away with 20 per head for the menu del dia three course lunch with drinks and coffee.

 

Absolutely worth a visit.

Osteria telephone number: 950 615 151