Castellon – the long walk to Grao
Ostensibly Castellon is by the sea, however the coast (beach, marina and port) is quite a way from the main town (see separate post) and is best reached by car. This was not an option for me, and besides I really needed the exercise.
It took me just under an hour and a quarter to walk to the sea from the hotel. It was fairly cool on the late March afternoon that I was out but it probably isn’t best done on a hot summer’s day. I found the return leg a bit of a struggle after a multi-course lunch but got back eventually.
It’s virtually a straight line the whole way (Google map here), beginning in the bleak area around the station and the hotel, passing through the Parque Ribalta and the old town, and then along the long newly built Avenida del Mar, past lots of waste ground and allotments and finally to the satellite neighbourhood of Grao (meaning ‘port’).
There seems to be a lane for some type of public transport going down the middle of the avenida, However, I didn’t see anything moving on it so it may have gone the same way as many other infrastructure projects in crisis-ridden Spain. Maybe you could ask the hotel if they have a bike you could borrow.
Off-season Grao was pretty quiet when I was there. There are lots of touristy eateries with plastic tables on the pier but I thought I deserved a treat after the long hike.
I looked at the menu at Tasca del Puerto www.tascadelpuerto.com just out of interest but since it had received such a good slagging for its overpriced food and slow service from a local tourist website, I was glad that it was closed.
Instead I went to this place mentioned in La Seleccion del Gourmet, a guide I’m beginning to trust less and less.
Rafael (Advanced C+), 28 Calle Churraca, Tel. 96 428 2185
This is the kind of place that suits with expense accounts like to schmooze their clients in. I was looked at slightly askance due to my t-shirt, jeans and trainers look but they let me in and gave me good service.
I had the Menu Rafael, five starters and a second course, the starters I’m guessing being whatever they have hanging around in the cupboards as they aren’t listed in the menu.
The first starter was a pile of non-descript ingredients heaped on a cracker and tasting blandly of the fridge (C).
Next some duck live foie grass glistening on a glass plate, which is hard to get wrong when it’s out of a tin (B).
Also a sea-urchin covered in some gloop that I couldn’t make out. It looked okay but its flavour was obscured. (C).
After that some deep-fried Anguillas, or elvers, which were fine in an oily way, but filled me up too much without making much of an impression (C).
Also I think these were imitation elvers made of Surimi (fish powder, also used in crab sticks), as the real ones are really expensive.
Next a very basic paella-like rice dish, with just a few lumps of prawn. It was way too salty for me and I sent back (D).
I was full by this time but the apologetic waiter insisted I have some seared tuna by way of recompense for the rice. The four unattractive lumps I got didn’t seem that fresh (C+) but I ate them so as not to disappoint my chap.
The Verdejo wine was the one redeeming feature (B+).
I felt that the €42 bill was pricey in terms of what I received, and the kitchen seems to have lost its mojo, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. There are other places around here to try.
Finally, a quick stroll along the seafront and then the long walk back to town…