Restaurant El Molino Blanco, New Management Focus on Food

Fronted by its eponymous, landmark windmill, El Molino Blanco has been one of Costa Adeje’s favourite restaurants for many years but in recent times, its reputation for food hasn’t been keeping par with its popularity as a live music venue. Now under new management, we popped along to see if fresh hands at the helm were steering an improved gastronomic course.

El Molino Blanco

Tucked away in a beautiful, mature garden with outside terrace, a covered dining room festooned with traditional Canarian agricultural implements and a stage and dance floor, El Molino Blanco is a taste of rustic Tenerife in the heart of Costa Adeje, with an ample side order of entertainment. For the thousands of people who come back year after year, this isn’t just a restaurant, it’s a dining night out.

After dark, soft lighting illuminates El Molino Blanco’s leafy courtyard setting to create a romantic ambience in which to enjoy live music and dancing along with the restaurant’s burgeoning culinary delights. But we opted for an indulgent lunchtime treat at celebrity table 32 housed in its rustic arbour in the garden.

The Main attraction, The Menu at El Molino Blanco

Featuring traditional Canarian and Spanish dishes such as paella, garlic chicken, garlic prawns and carne fiesta (marinated pork) alongside a handful of fish options and a mouthwatering choice of steaks, lamb and pork, the menu doesn’t challenge palates into uncharted territory, choosing instead to give traditional favourites like steaks and strogonoff a cooked-to-perfection makeover. Apart from vegetarian paella and some of the starter dishes, there’s little on the menu for veggies in the family but the restaurant assures us that, within reason, the kitchen is happy to cook meat-free requests.

El Molino Blanco

After our usual dithering over choices that would test the patience of any waiter, the smiling Pedro took our order. To start we chose prawns in garlic, garlic bread with tomato and, flying in the face of our instincts, prawn cocktail, a dish that would never normally make it onto our menu choices. For mains, I ordered Sea Bass with Green Sauce and King Prawns while Jack opted for Breast of Duck with Fruits of the Forest Compote.

El Molino Blanco

It’s fair to say the prices on El Molino Blanco’s menu are not for the faint hearted but when the opening dishes arrived it was clear to see that the new management aren’t scrimping on portion size or on the quality of ingredients. Happily, the beautifully presented prawn cocktail was a long way from the tired, swimming in thousand-island dressing specimens of the ’80s, offering instead a delicately flavoured mêlée of meaty prawns threaded with thin slivers of lettuce, dressed in a light mayonnaise sauce, topped with succulent king prawns and set on a pineapple ring surrounded by fresh mango, kiwi and orange. The prawns in garlic were big, fat and juicy in their sizzling saucer of olive oil flavoured with thin slices of garlic and the bread was a warm garlic ciabatta topped with sweet, diced tomatoes.

El Molino Blanco

Our taste buds now on full alert and the culinary bar set high, the main courses proved to be equally generously sized and creatively presented. My sea bass was cooked to melting perfection with firm flesh that was moist, lightly flavoured in paprika and drizzled in a pesto sauce. Jack’s duck was lean, tender and infused with a rich, gamy flavour which reached new heights with the fruits of the forest compote. Both dishes were served on a bed of boiled potatoes and fresh spring vegetables cooked to optimum, al dente texture. Although we both struggled to clean our plates, we battled on, refusing to leave a single tasty morsel.

El Molino Blanco

There was no question of us still having room for more which is why it was such a surprise when I heard myself agreeing to a ‘small selection” of desserts in the form of a tasty assortment of tiramisu, crêpes Molino, lemon cream cake and crème caramel. It was however no surprise that the dessert defeated us and we waved a white flag over the paltry remains.

El Molino Blanco

El Molino Blanco Summary
If you’ve tried El Molino Blanco and been disappointed by the food, now’s the time to give it another look. The new management have raised the standard of dining to a level that’s more in keeping with the restaurant’s glory days. As a venue for parties, weddings or just a great night out, it now has the culinary muscle to match its reputation for excellent entertainment and will have guests spilling out into the Adeje night air vowing to return before their holiday’s over.

Tenerife Magazine’s five star rating for El Molino Blanco
Décor – 4 stars. A fabulous garden and enclosed courtyard setting with mature trees and plants in the heart of Costa Adeje with a traditional, Canarian rustic feel which raises to sexy when the sun goes down and all the little lights come on.
Menu – 4 stars. A nice combo of traditional Canarian – a rare thing in Costa Adeje – and family favourites with a strong emphasis on quality over quantity of choice. New menus in the pipeline promise better descriptors and some exciting new additions.
Food – 4 stars. Ingredients are fresh, top notch quality, cooked with competence and presented with flair. Meat lovers will struggle to choose between prime cuts of beef, pork and lamb while fish and seafood addicts can look forward to some first rate culinary catches.
Service – 4 stars. We were served by as many different waiting staff as we had courses and each one was smiling and professional. There’s an unhurried atmosphere and no wait between courses but we have yet to test them on a busy Saturday night.

El Molino Blanco

Where, when and how
Avenida de Austria, 5, San Eugenio Alta (alongside Aqualand), Costa Adeje; +34 922 79 62 82; open daily 1pm to midnight.
Prices
Tapas average €3.80; starters average €12 – €14; main courses average €20. Our selection of desserts was €18. Lunchtime dining (table must be vacated by 5pm) is discounted by 20% and early evening ((table must be vacated by 7pm) by 15%. Our bill for three courses and drinks came to €103.87 discounted to €83.11.

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La Vendimia Restaurant, Imaginatively Tasteful

The woman waved her hands to attract our attention.

“Are you going to eat at La Vendimia?” She asked.

“Just on our way now,” I replied.

“Wonderful,” she smiled. “I’ve just finished dining there and the food was fabulous. You’ve got to try the mussels…they’re huge.”

La Vendimia’s setting in the Hotel Spa Villalba in Vilaflor on the edge of the pines is perfect for a romantic culinary liaison. As dusk fell and the sky turned velvet, the patio lights on the restaurant’s terrace lit up the enchanting forest outside.

Inside, a soft colour scheme of oatmeal and beige contrasting with dark wood furnishings creates a tasteful, gentle atmosphere. Scenes of traditional country life on the walls and freshly cut flowers on each table serve as reminders of La Vendimia’s rural setting. A few tables were occupied by couples of varying ages, all of whom seemed to be enjoying the romantic ambience.

The seductive scene was set. A hike around the streets of Vilaflor had built up a bit of an appetite and so I was chomping at the bit to see whether the menu had the charm to romance my tastebuds.

The Main Attraction, The Menu at La Vendimia
I get a buzz out of being excited by a menu. Most of the time on Tenerife this doesn’t happen. That’s not to say that the food isn’t good, it’s just that menus often lack the imagination that rings my gastronomic bell.

This wasn’t the case with La Vendimia.

The menu was small, but boy was it select. Although there was a limited choice for each course, the descriptions of each dish had my tastebuds delirious with anticipation.

Tempura of vegetables from the hotel’s garden; creamy vegetables with crusty bread; pork loin in a honey and mustard sauce; garlic tagliatelle with clams

I was glad there weren’t more dishes as I struggled to choose from the short list in front of me.

After a difficult elimination process we finally decided on vegetable tempura and the cheese plate with blueberry jam to kick off this particular culinary journey, followed by Côte d’Azur mussels and the pork loin with honey and mustard sauce. Although it was unlikely that there would be any room left at the stomach inn, the lure of raspberry and mint sorbet and the restaurant’s house cake to finish off sounded too yummy to let pass.

To accompany the feast we ordered a bottle of Pagos Reverón, an ecological red wine from the owner’s vineyard.

Whilst we waited for our food, we were brought a wonderful looking and tasting appetiser of light pastry boats topped with smoked salmon, cream cheese and chives.

The cheese platter when it arrived looked attractively stylish and the blueberry jam added a fruity zing to savoury slices of manchego, semi-curado and queso fresco. However, the tempura was a revelation. I”M a huge fan of tempura and La Vendimia’s was in another class. This was the FC Barcelona of tempuras.

Courgettes, pumpkin, aubergine, artichoke, leek and red and green peppers encased in the crispiest of batters was possibly the best tempura I’ve had the pleasure to meet…and eat. I can’t tell you how good it was…and that was before it was dipped in the soy sauce.

The main courses were artistic in their presentation. Medallions of pork, squaring up to a potato gratin tower, were tender enough to be eaten using chopsticks whilst huge green mussels topped by a chipstick bonfire lay on a vibrant bed of vegetables.

All the dishes were an absolute joy to look at and, more importantly, to devour.

By the time we reached the dessert stage I was ready to wave my napkin in defeat but although the refreshing raspberry mint sorbet was the sensible choice, the cream, moist sponge and white chocolate ‘house’ cake that I’d ordered was worth risking dying from over-eating for.

La Vendimia Summary
The rural setting is wonderful and if you’re looking for a romantic location that would confound many people’s image of Tenerife, this is the place. But dining at La Vendimia isn’t just about romance, even if the food does get in on the act by making love to your senses. La Vendimia is a restaurant for people who love food and who want to be wowed by cuisine that is creative and as fresh as Vilaflor’s mountain air.

Tenerife magazine’s five star rating for La Vendimia
Décor ““ 4 stars. Tasteful and fresh with some nice original touches such as stained glass panels and the depictions of rural life on the walls. Maybe slightly too brightly lit for setting a perfect romantic scene.
Menu ““ 4.5 stars. Small but diverse and appealingly creative. Lovers of good food will want to try everything on it. There are also choices for vegetarians. When we ate there there wasn’t a vegetarian main, but there were two vegetarian starters and the tempura was of main meal proportions.
Food ““ 4.5 stars. Overall the food just looked and tasted sensational. The tempura especially was simply one of those “Wow’ dishes.
Service ““ 4.5 stars. Smiley, friendly and attentive staff who seemed extremely happy in their jobs and that came across in how they interacted with customers.
Where, when and how
Part of the Hotel Spa Villalba in Vilaflor; +34 922 70 99 30; open 7pm to 10pm daily.
Prices
The average prive of a meal is around €25 per person. A bottle of wine costs from €10.

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Tenerife Restaurant Reviews on Tripadvisor

It’s now widely accepted that most UK residents researching a holiday abroad will use predominantly online sources before they book and for many, Tripadvisor is their first port of call.

But checking out Tripadvisor for a restaurant recommendation recently, it was surprising to discover which restaurants were ranked as the top three in each of Tenerife’s most popular resorts. Many of those currently holding these valuable positions were strangers to TenerifeMagazine.com, and indeed to the Tenerife Tripadvisor forum on which restaurant recommendations are frequently requested and given. With so much at stake, whose opinion is it that we’re trusting and how can we be sure that they would know a good restaurant if it walked up to them and introduced itself? It got us thinking…when it comes to restaurant reviews, does Tripadvisor really know its onions?

Success sells
One of the most interesting things that you first notice with the reviews is the number of people whose opening line is something along the lines of “we chose this restaurant because so many people on Tripadvisor had recommended it”. Having a good ranking on this holiday watchdog site is clearly worth its weight in gold and once you’ve managed to get into those ranks, success naturally breeds success.

Rating criteria
Anyone reviewing a restaurant on Tripadvisor is asked to give a rating of one to five stars, one being terrible and five being excellent, in the categories service, food, value, atmosphere. Interestingly, the only star ratings that show up on reviews are the overall average and the Service and Value, not the food, which is the main thing you would have thought most people would want to see.

Who do you trust?
Tripadvisor has come in for a lot of stick about the integrity of its reviews and rightly so, but to be fair to Tripadvisor, it’s a very difficult system to police effectively. Scrolling through the reviews given to restaurants that ranked at numbers one, two and three in the resorts of Costa Adeje, Playa de Las Américas, Los Cristianos and Puerto de la Cruz, a pattern began to emerge.

In the restaurants who’s presence in these lofty positions was a surprise, of those reviewers who had given the restaurant straight five star ratings, the vast majority had only given this one review or at best, this plus one other. In one case, out of 56 reviews giving five stars, 39 had only ever reviewed this restaurant and a further seven had only reviewed one other as well. In another case, a staggering 20 out of 27 five stars came from mainly first time reviewers, and in a third six out of nine.

What was equally interesting was that the majority of those making their first and only review and awarding five stars were in the last three months.

Convenience versus quality
It was intriguing to discover that the currently top ranked restaurant in Costa Adeje is hidden away, a fair walking distance from the coast and with 65 reviews to its name, which makes you wonder how on earth so many people had managed to find it in the first place. It seems that the restaurant is in fact located within a timeshare apartment complex and so is convenient for lots of holidaymakers for whom the walk anywhere else would be lengthy. And why go anywhere else when you’ve got a very good restaurant on the door step? There’s no reason to doubt that the restaurant has good food, but does it warrant best restaurant in Costa Adeje? One reviewer gave it five straight stars having only had two takeaway pizzas from it.

The same pattern emerged for the top ranked restaurants in Puerto de la Cruz, numbers one and two of which are not even in the town. The number one ranking, although clearly a very good restaurant, is in La Paz, in easy distance of Casablanca Apartments for all those who don’t want to do the climb back from town but way off the radar of anyone staying near the coast. The second ranked restaurant is in Punta Brava ““ a considerable trek from Puerto and located directly outside Loro Parque. Interestingly, the seven reviews for this restaurant all gave straight fives, were all first time and only reviews and six of them had been posted in the last eight weeks.

Menus
With one or two notable exceptions such as Coeur de Filet and Méson Castellano, the first twelve ranked restaurants across our four chosen resorts had menus that predictably catered to a British palate. Steaks featured heavily in the reviews with pizza and pasta hot on their heels and Indian and Chinese taking two out of the twelve spots.

Even where restaurants with more varied and creative cuisine crept into the top rankings, some reviewers marked them down because the choices didn’t suit them. At Méson Castellano reviewers who don’t speak Spanish struggled with the ‘no menu’ concept and had a less enjoyable dining experience whilst a reviewer at Coeur de Filet complained that when she asked the waiter if she could have chicken in her spaghetti carbonara, he tutted ““ personally I think he showed remarkable restraint.

The best restaurants in Tenerife ““ Tripadvisor style.
So here, with our ‘look before you book’ warning that all that glistens is not gold, are the current top ranked restaurants in Tenerife’s major resort areas according to Tripadvisor. Are there any surprises there for you?

Costa Adeje
1st Restaurante Sebastián
2nd Coeur de Filet
3rd Torviscas Tandoori

Playa de Las Américas
1st First Love
2nd Méson Castellano
3rd La Martina

Los Cristianos
1st Chill Out
2nd Overseas
3rd Las Velas

Puerto de la Cruz
1st Tucan
2nd Tambo
3rd El Regulo

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La Bellotina Tasca, a Romantic Setting and Spanish Specialities

Puerto de la Cruz boasts many attractions for visitors to Tenerife, from the must-see Loro Parque to the ultra chic swimming pools of Lago Martiánez and from traditional restaurants in cobbled streets to the cultivated jungle of the Botanical Gardens, or in this case, the traditional restaurant right opposite the Botanical Gardens ““ La Bellotina Tasca.

Ensconced in a covered courtyard fronted by ornate wrought iron gates that emulate the imposing entrance to the gardens across the road, La Bellotina is a romantic little restaurant tucked away behind the main road at the edge of the La Paz district. A handful of tables for two sit out front on the little terrace with views over the towering palms of the Botanical Gardens.

Inside the gates, a small covered courtyard is softly lit by wall lanterns which create an orange glow over the exquisite terracotta tiled floor and the wrought iron tables and chairs. Set into a wall recess, a beautiful mosaic fountain adds a touch of feng shui to the mirrors, trompe l’oeil flower murals and wall pots brimming with blooms to create an intimate and romantic hidden garden.

The Main attraction, The Menu at La Bellotina Tasca
One glance at the menu and you know the chef has travelled beyond these shores. Originally from La Palma and honing his craft in Madrid, the chef combines Spanish speciality ingredients with traditional Canarian dishes and adds his own touches to come up with a menu that is both varied and fresh.

As if the menu wasn’t already difficult enough to chose from, a long list of the day’s specials threw a dessert spoonful of indecision to the dithering that was already on the table. Finally we plumped for starters of Croquetas Caseras de Jamón Ibérico (home made Iberan ham croquettes) and Crujientes de Morcilla de Burgos (crunchy black pudding from Burgos) followed by Ración de Cochinillo Asado la Horno ““ estilo Segovia (baked leg of pork cooked Segovian style) and Solomillo Bellotina (the house special fillet steak).

There was just enough time to uncork the red and take in our surroundings before the starters arrived, nicely presented on white dishes with a small side serving of thin strips of fried potatoes. The croquetas de Jamón Ibérico were delicious; a light, crispy coating giving way to succulent cured ham in creamy potato. The crujientes de morcilla de Burgos were a little too ‘crujiente‘ for my liking and had lost some of the taste of the black pudding as a result. Ironically the fried potatoes were less crispy than they could have been.

Starters despatched, the main courses arrived. The fillet steak was tender, juicy and flavoursome, topped with oyster mushrooms and set in a bed of rich gravy with a selection of vegetables and a handful of chips. The crispy outer skin of the cochinillo asado concealed a succulent leg of tender pork, flavoursome and cooked to perfection so the meat melted in the mouth. Accompanied by a selection of vegetables and scallop potatoes, it took some time to finish every last scrap.

For dessert we ordered the Milhoja de Crema Pastelera y Nata (flaky pastry with vanilla custard and cream). The lightest of flaky pastry slices layered with smooth custard cream and a ball of fresh cream and sprinkled with icing, lay on a bed of chocolate sauce like a pastry butterfly on a chocolate petal. We cracked the pastry with our spoons, gathered it up with some vanilla and cream and made silly mmmmm noises as it melted in our mouths.

La Bellotina Tasca Summary
With so many traditional Canarian restaurants in Puerto, it’s good to experience a menu that incorporates some of the best of Spanish mainland specialities and La Bellotina does that beautifully. It’s a wonderful location and a friendly little spot for a casual lunch, an everyday dinner or a special occasion. At the end of the meal it was very difficult to pull ourselves away and we could easily have lingered longer over coffee listening to the tinkle of the fountain and watching the silhouettes of the palm trees wafting against the night sky.

Tenerife Magazine’s five star rating for La Bellotina Tasca
Décor ““ 4 stars. A romantic courtyard setting with rustic décor and trompe l’oeil murals which bring the gardens of Puerto to traditional tasca style.
Menu ““ 4 stars. A wide choice of starters includes lots of speciality tapas, a good selection of substantial salads and tasty tostas. Main courses are geared more towards meat eaters with emphasis on Spanish pork and lamb specialities. There are menus del día and daily specials to make life even more difficult for decision phobes.
Food ““ 3.5 stars. A half star dropped in the starters was regained in the main courses and the dessert. Cuts of meat are tender, portions are generous and flavours are intense.
Service ““ 3.5 stars. This is a friendly little restaurant where you’re not hurried between courses and can relax and enjoy the ambience, so much so that we eventually had to ask for the dessert menu.

Where, when and how
Calle Retama, 3, Edificio Retama, La Paz (opposite Botanico Gardens), Puerto de la Cruz; +34 922 38 63 95; open Tues ““ Sat 11.30am to 11.30pm, Sunday 11.30 ““ 3.30pm, closed Monday; www.tascalabellotina.com
Prices
Starters average €8-€9, tapas average €4, main courses average €14-€15 and desserts average €3.90

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La Terrazza del Mare, a Taste of the Mediterranean on Tenerife

Restaurants by the sea on Tenerife are nearly as numerous as the grains of sand on the playas they overlook. Restaurants by the sea that have a stylish pizazz about them and offer a sophisticated setting for a long leisurely lunch, or romantic sunset dinner are as rare as a rainy day in July.

Apart from occupying an envious position with views that sweep from both Troya beaches to the south west coast and La Gomera on the horizon, La Terrazza del Mare in Costa Adeje possesses the sort of chic good looks that demand your company for a cooling, pre-dinner cocktail whilst enjoying the warmth of the sun’s final rays of the day.

The first thing that struck me about La Terrazza del Mare was the choice of unique corners in which to eat and chill out with friends. Canvas teepees are a fun place for a soiree with mates whilst Balinese-style raised cabins create a wonderfully intimate dining space and tables for two with prime views overlooking the beach fit many people’s idea of what the setting for a romantic meal should look like. Leafy plants, tumbling floral displays and sunflower bright flowers in smoked glass add the finishing touches to La Terrazza del Mare’s tasteful good looks.

We’ve established the décor looks the part, but does the food at La Terrazza del Mare live up to the dressing? There was only one way to find out.

The Main attraction, The Menu at La Terrazza del Mare

The Mediterranean menu appealed right away; the Mediterranean style of utilising fresh ingredients to create dishes that aren’t too heavy in their delivery are ideal for hot climates in my view. Additionally a menu that features pastas, pizzas, fish and meat choices has something to appeal to most culinary tastes.

After a lot of humming and hawing we opted for a mixed starter of Caprese salad with buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil; Andalusian prawns with sweet chilli and alioli dips; Andalusian squid and Catalunian tomato bread with cured ham. The prawns were succulent and coated in a beautifully crisp, light tempura batter and the squid, also coated in a light batter was nicely tender. I’d become a big fan of the Catalunian bread (pan tumaca) having just been presented with it at nearly every meal in Costa Brava recently so was intrigued to taste Terrazza del Mare’s version of making it more like toasted garlic bread with a tomato and olive oil topping. It was a variation that worked well for me, especially combined with a cured ham topping.

For main course we went along with the recommendations from manager, Pepe; grilled sea bass and as pizzas are one of the restaurant’s specialities, pizza parmigiani accompanied by a bottle of Tajinaste – an appropriately light, fruity red wine from Tacoronte.

The presentation of the sea bass, two fillets sandwiching a layer of al dente asparagus, carrots and cucumber, was as immaculate as the Terrazza’s décor and the fish was crispy skinned with moist, flaky flesh. The pizza parmigiani was equally attractive with a thin, crispy base, lots of parmesan shavings and flavours that were unlocked by a drizzle of spicy olive oil that delivered a taste-bud wakening kick.

A generous slice of tiramisu, that was thankfully lovely and light, and an equally generous slice (their version of ‘a small piece please’) of tangy lemon meringue pie finished off what was an enjoyable meal in relaxing and extremely ambient surroundings.

La Terrazza del Mare Summary
It doesn’t take a fashionista to see that La Terrazza del Mare prides itself on appearance. Apart from the fact it adds good looks to the area, I like the restaurant’s approach to making eating a more interesting experience with the likes of hosting cocktail competitions, introducing brunch menus and the great sounding chill house Sunday which involves enjoying cocktails and paella as the sun goes down. At La Terraza del Mare they’re attempting to inject innovation into dining and that should be applauded.

Tenerife magazine’s five star rating for La Terraza del Mare

Décor ““ 4 stars. La Terrazza del Mare looks the part of an upmarket, stylish restaurant with superb views. As inviting a venue for cocktails as it is for dining.
Menu ““ 4 stars. A relatively select Mediterranean menu that shows some imagination and has choices to suit many tastes.
Food ““ 3.5 stars. The presentation of the food was as tasteful as the surroundings and there was no faulting its freshness or how it was cooked, but overall the flavours in the main courses were pleasing rather than sensational.
Service ““ 4 stars. Very professional and attentive service and the advice from Pepe, the manager, was extremely helpful.
Where, when and how
Paseo Marítimo behind Playa Troya, Costa Adeje; +34 922 79 64 28; open 11am to 2am daily, last food order – 11.30pm, last cockatil order – 1.30am; www.laterrazzadelmare.com
Prices
Prices vary as the restaurant also serves snacks and breakfast. The cost of a meal at La Terrazza del Mare is about average for the area, which makes it quite good value considering its individualistic style. Starters begin from €5.50, main courses from €7.50. There is a great value 3 course lunch option for €9.90.

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El Cine Restaurant Review, Los Cristianos” Worst Kept Secret

If you haven’t heard of El Cine in Los Cristianos then you haven’t been talking to the right people; it’s Los Cristianos” worst kept gastronomic secret. Ask nearly anyone who knows Los Cristianos to recommend a good, traditional fish restaurant and the name that’s probably most likely to form on their lips is El Cine’s.

Such is El Cine’s reputation that it’s not uncommon to have to queue with the mix of Canarios, ex-pats and hungry visitors who quite happily wait for anything up to an hour to dine at what has become a culinary institution in the south of Tenerife.

Tenerife Magazine decided it was time that we feasted at this legendary establishment tucked away in a small alley behind Playa de Los Cristianos to discover why El Cine attracts praise that sometimes borders on the fanatical.

In the looks department, El Cine is hardly Hollywood glamorous. The décor is understated to the point of being non-existent; tables and chairs crammed underneath a lemon coloured canopy in a narrow alley – and maybe that’s part of its charm. When so much of Tenerife is being developed and given a ‘nip and tuck’ so that the term ‘upmarket” can be added, El Cine feels like a link to the town’s simple fishing village roots.

The Main attraction, El Cine’s Menu
Like the décor the menu is minimalist and features one salad, chips, papas arrugadas (wrinkled Canarian potatoes) and around ten main courses; all fish and seafood except jamoncitos de pollo (fried chicken wings).


We ordered the merluza (hake), pulpo (octopus), papas arrugadas and a tomato and onion salad and sat back in our chairs, excited at the prospect of sampling food that regularly receives rave reviews.

We didn’t have to wait long before all the dishes were brought to the table at the same time. The merluza (three decent sized fillets) and pulpo (again three good sized specimens) had a promising on-plate chemistry on the silver platter they shared. The portions were generous and with the papas arrugadas to boost them, added up to a substantial amount for not a lot of money. In fact the three of us dining together could have had a fish fillet and one whole octopus each ““ two dishes for the price of one in essence.

The tomato and onion salad on the other hand looked quite unappealing. I subscribe to the view that the best fish is simply prepared and served…but that’s fish. I like salads to have a bit of flair and creativity. Chunky slices of tomatoes and onions drizzled with olive oil just looked like a salad that couldn’t be bothered making an effort and it tasted like it looked…uninspiring.

Thankfully the main dishes lived up more to the reputation that had preceded them. The pulpo was nicely cooked with a taste-bud pleasing smoky flavour and satisfyingly crunchy tentacles whilst the merluza tasted as fresh as the morning tide and was pleasantly moist, although it did border on being very slightly overcooked for my taste.



The Closing Credits

I liked El Cine’s lack of fussiness and simplistic approach. Its lack of pretension means it’s a comfortably casual place in which to dine and although there was the ubiquitous queue by the time we’d finished eating, there was never any pressure to vacate the table. I thoroughly enjoyed the fried octopus, portions were big and extremely good value and I’d happily eat there again. But overall I thought the food was good rather than exceptional.

Tenerife magazine’s five star rating for El Cine
Décor ““ 2 stars. Simple…there’s not a lot else to say.
Menu ““ 3 stars. Very limited, but that’s not necessarily a negative. If it’s fish you’re after then it features the main stars.
Food ““ 3 stars. The food is simply prepared and presented which works fine for fish and seafood, but I really couldn’t see the point of the salad.
Service ““ 3.5 stars. Like the restaurant itself, unfussy. Food was prepared quickly and service was efficient.

Where, when and how
C/Juan Bariajo, 8; +34 609 10 77 58; behind Los Cristianos beach

Price
Excellent value. Main courses are €7 except the chicken which is €6.

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Las Rocas Restaurant Review, Romance & Great Food on the Rocks

If someone was to ask me to list ideal ingredients for a hopelessly romantic setting for a restaurant I’d reply ‘somewhere intimate that served sexily seductive cuisine on a terrace overlooking the ocean where sunsets turned the skies velvet and the soundtrack was provided by the waves crashing passionately against rocks”.
Or, in other words, Las Rocas on Costa Adeje’s coastline. When compiling lists of romantic places to dine on Tenerife, the Hotel Jardín Tropical’s delightful thatched roof restaurant jutting out over the Atlantic is almost always the first place to spring to mind.

Its location, between Puerto Colón and San Eugenio, means that it is perfectly positioned for a romance soaked gastronomic liaison for the millions of holidaymakers who visit Tenerife’s main southern tourist resorts every year.
Everybody who strolls past Las Rocas can clearly see that it’s a special venue in the looks department, but what about the cuisine? Does it also arouse sighs of delicious pleasure? Tenerife Magazine arranged a sunset assignation to find out.

The Main attraction, the Menu at Las Rocas
Deciding on what to order from the selection of sumptuous sounding goodies on the menu wasn’t helped by the fact that the sunset was putting on a distracting ‘hey, look at how gorgeous I am’ display over La Gomera on the horizon.

Around us were a mix of couples and groups of friends (Las Rocas isn’t solely a gastronomic venue for romantic dinners for two) enjoying the experience of watching mother nature do her show-stopping routine. It was a coolish March evening and although Las Rocas” interior dining area is stylishly inviting we, like most other diners, opted to eat al fresco on the restaurant’s wonderful terrace overlooking the sea.

After much humming and hawing we finally ordered chicken brochettes marinated in a satay and pineapple sauce and octopus with paprika potatoes followed by Cherne (grouper) in a Bilbao sauce served with papas arrugadas (Canarian wrinkled potatoes) and sirloin of Aberdeen Angus served with dauphinoise potatoes, green beans and a pumpkin tart.
We took the head waiter, Julio’s advice when it came to choosing the wine; Ribero del Duero – a full bodied crianza from Burgos.

The starters got us off to a promising…well, start. The chicken brochettes were smoky and the nuttiness of the satay combined with pineapple created complimentary sweet & savoury flavours. The octopus was satisfyingly crispy in parts and as tender as octopus can be in others. Its white flesh had a flavour and texture that tasted like pork of the sea. Octopus and potatoes are a surprisingly winning combination and spicing them up with paprika upped the yum factor a few notches.

The main courses had a lot to live up to, but they were up for the job. Cherne is usually pleasantly tasting but it doesn’t always have much of a personality. The roasted garlic and olive oil dressing at Las Rocas brought it completely out of its shell, unlocking a vibrantly tasting side to this popular local fish.
The Aberdeen Angus sirloin was exactly as ordered; dark and succulent on the outside and pink inside. It melted beneath the path of my knife and was as tasty a steak as I’ve had for a long time. When introduced to one of the four varieties of mustards that came with it, new flavours were unleashed and the meat and the mustards proved to be exciting and adventurous dance partners in my mouth. With the Aberdeen Angus as an adversary, the wine really came into its own, teasing even more flavours from the beef as though it were a matador taunting a bull.

By this point we were too fat and happy for dessert, but research is research so a slice of huge strawberry cheesecake, topped with lashings of cream and swirls of chocolate sauce and a portion of quesadilla (Canarian variation of cheesecake) finished off the meal and nearly us with it.

Once those were despatched it was a case of sitting back in our chairs to relax, sigh and enjoy the vistas and the rest of the wine as deep tangerine streaks on the horizon gave way to intense midnight blues.

The Sunset Summary
So what’s the overall verdict? Does Las Rocas live up to its promise of a romantic place to dine? The cuisine is top quality and beautifully presented in a stunner of a location. It really does feel like a special place to dine. Eat here and it’s pretty much assured that it”ll be a case of love on the rocks.

Tenerife magazine’s five star rating for Las Rocas
Décor ““ 5 stars. Las Rocas looks exquisite and the scenery provides a perfect, sparkling finishing touch.
Menu ““ 4 stars. One of those menus where you want to try everything…unless you happen to be vegetarian.
Food ““ 4 stars. Looks beautiful, tastes divine. Desserts Didn’t quite live up to the starters and main, but then I”M not a pudding person.
Service ““ 4 stars. Professional and friendly with no stuffiness. Made us feel completely relaxed.
Where, when and how
Hotel Jardín Tropical, C/Gran Bretaña, near Playa Bobo, Costa Adeje; +34 902 25 02 51; open 10am to 11pm daily.
Prices
Considering its location, fabulous good looks and excellent cuisine, Las Rocas isn’t as expensive as you might expect. Main courses average €18.

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Following Tapas Trails on Tenerife

Sitting in the El Marquís de la Noria restaurant in Santa Cruz I didn’t know whether to eat the object of beauty on the plate in front of me, or to put it up for auction at Sotheby’s where I had no doubt it would earn a pretty penny. The finely balanced sculpture of breaded prawn, bacon and caviar on sweet potato resting on an abstract pattern of sauces that Picasso would have been proud of was one of the offerings on the Ruta del Chicharro, and typified why tapas routes are such good fun.

Tapas on Tenerife
Tenerife cuisine doesn’t really boast a history of tapas, but they have become part of the culinary culture over the years. Traditional bars tend to offer four or five different tapas; usually including boquerones (marinated anchovies), tortilla (Spanish omelette), croquetas (fish and potato croquettes), carne y papas (spiced beef with boiled potatoes) and ensaladilla rusa (Russian salad with tuna, potato, boiled egg and vegetables). In restaurants the choice of tapas is greater, but generally they have lacked the imagination of those found in the atmospheric bars of classic tapas cities such as Barcelona and Madrid…until now.

In recent years more contemporary tapas bars have arrived on Tenerife’s restaurant scene. Santa Cruz, the Ranilla district in Puerto de la Cruz and San Telmo in Los Cristianos have all seen the opening of stylish tapas bars that wouldn’t look out of place in Barcelona’s Barrio Gótico.
Whether it’s coincidental or not, during the same period, ruta de tapas (tapas routes) have become more and more popular on the island with many of Tenerife’s municipalities organising them at least once a year.

Tapas Routes on Tenerife
These tapas competitions always follow a similar format and involve participating restaurants (normally 20-30 establishments) creating a signature tapas (sometimes two) and serving it with a glass of beer, wine or water for a nominal amount (around €2.50) during a set period that lasts from a couple of weeks to a month.
The idea is to follow these tapas routes eating, drinking, generally getting merry (one tapas to one beer and the alcohol soon starts mounting up) and having a tapas “passport” stamped. At the end of the the ruta de tapas period, you vote for your favourite tapas and your passport is put into a prize draw ““ usually a meal at one of the participating restaurants.

For food lovers these tapas routes are wonderful fun. Chefs pull out all the stops to create tapas dishes that are original, look incredible and taste sublime. They don’t always succeed and favourites might not necessarily be the tastiest, but that’s part of the enjoyment. ““ I once had ravioli sorpresa which consisted of home made ravioli filled with space dust. It was quite bizarre, but completely unforgettable.
As well as outrageous ingredients, the themes for tapas routes are becoming more and more adventurous. This year has seen a couple of aphrodisiac ruta de tapas, whilst overlapping with the Ruta del Chicharro in Santa Cruz this month was an erotic tapas route featuring risqué dishes with names including sex machine and Caribbean orgasm. There are some easy Graham Norton type double entendres to be had here, but in the interests of decency I’ll resist.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I didn’t have the details for the erotic tapas route, so never discovered what a sex machine tapas consisted of. Part of the attraction of the routes is in exploring diverse places to eat. On the Dorada beer sponsored Ruta del Chicharro that I was following I went from the ultra chic Musuem bar with its retro rattan seating to the traditional La Hierbita with so many nooks and crannies that I swear I got lost twice. With tapas dishes on offer sporting names which don’t give much away – como la hacia mi abuela (just like grandma made it), or el sabor de mi tierra (flavour of my land) ““ it’s not always clear what’s going to be dished up, but that element of surprise also adds a little spice to tapas routes and I’ve never been disappointed with what’s appeared in front of me.

In the end I only managed three restaurants, lingering too long in the warm and welcoming grasp of each, and ten stamps are required to enter the prize draw. No worries, the Ruta del Chicharro lasts until 30th October, so I’ve plenty of time to notch up another seven. All I have to do is decide what to try next – pularda esxisada at Mojos Y Mojitos maybe, or possibly delicia de plátano con bacon at Bodeguita Canario, or even tempura de chicharro con parchita chutney at the Príncipe Kiosko…decisions, decisions, decisions.

Tapas routes are held throughout the year on Tenerife and another with a theme based on Canarian cheeses starts this Friday in La Laguna. Keep an eye on Tenerife Magazine’s ‘Happenings” page for details of future ones.

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The Monk, the Goats and the Wine.

La Montañeta del Fraile (the monk’s hill) is a volcanic cone on the eastern boundary of Los Realejos overlooking La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz. On the summit, a small white Ermita stands, keeping a lonely vigil over the valley until the 3rd May comes round when locals make the steep walk to its little plaza to celebrate the Fiesta of the Cross.
Only thought to have appeared in the thirteenth century, the little mountain was originally known as La Montañeta de la Luz (the bright hill). But in the eighteenth century one man left his mark on its slopes and his name on its deeds.

La Ermita, El MonasterioThe Parable of the Monk
In 1788, the story goes, a Dominican monk named Fray Antonio el Gomero set off on his mule to raise funds for the Convent of Nuestra Señora de Candelaria. From every bodega he asked if he could fill one of his barrels with grape juice from the recent harvest. From the Guanche tribes he asked for goat kids which he drove back to the north.
Over time, Antonio filled his cellars with good wine and his pastures with healthy goats, all of which he sold for handsome profit to benefit the Convent. For many years, the monk lived on his little mountain and continued to raise funds from his goat and wine business.
When he died in 1811, the locals re-named the hill La Montañeta del Fraile in his honour.

Keeping the Faith
Five generations after Fray Antonio served goat stew and wine to the local parishioners, the finca, walkways, botanical gardens, shrines and courtyards of El Monasterio occupy 100,000 sq metres of La Montañeta del Fraile serving excellent food and wines in its five restaurants.
In deference to its alleged monastic origins, names like “˜El Confesionarío‘ (the confessional) and “˜El Convento‘ (the convent) are carved onto heavy wooden doors leading to cavernous dining halls and intimate sequestered corners.

El Monasterio

All Creatures Great and Small
And it’s not just visitors who enjoy the monastic surroundings.
Peacocks amble along the walkways, displaying their fabulous feathers and putting the flame red bougainvillea temporarily into the shade. Ducks and geese waddle amongst the trees, drinking from the rills or heading back to preen their feathers and float in the duck pond. Hens with long trains of chicks, like ribbons on kites, tic-tac their way through the legs of goats and ponies in the paddocks while cockerels kick up the red, soft earth into a cloud before ushering in another false dawn with their trademark cries.

The monk’s hill is a local landmark and with its Christmas lights sparkling above the valley, it’s a beautifully festive spot to enjoy a glass of wine and drink a toast to Fray Antonio and his goats.

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