Valencia – Eixample – Gran Via
Gran Via is the subdistrict of the Eixample that lies to the south of Gran Via del Marques de Turia. There are heaps of restaurants around here, particularly along Carrer del Comte d’Altea.
Mercatbar (High Intermediate B), 27 Carrer de Joaquin Costa, www.mercatbar.es
This is the flagship tapas bar of Quique Dacosta, a famous local chef who was the talk of the town when I was there. The idea is to reinvent traditional classics in a modern style. Visually and conceptually the food is wonderful but sadly the flavours just weren’t there for me. A chef I met told me that the food is prepared in a central kitchen and then sent out to the restaurants in the chain (including Vuelva Catalina and El Poblet) where it’s heated up, which can’t be good for how it tastes when it finally reaches your plate.
The famous Souffle de Patata y Yema de Huevo, appears to be an egg ‘yolk’ in little mouth sized parcel. I now know that restaurants in Spain are not allowed to sell dishes made with fresh eggs and instead they use reconstituted powder to simulate egg dishes, which might explain how it’s possible to make this seemingly complex tapa. It was an interesting concept but not much more (B).
The Langostinos Crujientes Fritos were okay (B) but the Romescu sauce it served with was pretty horrible (D). I was intrigued by the Cubalibre de Foie Gras con Escarcha de Limon, or foie coated with a kind of coca cola jelly and lemon sorbet, It was an interesting combo that worked pretty well (B+) but there was too much of it. The potato crisps were fine (B) but the local wine left a bit to be desired (C).
To finish the Milojas Clasico de Crema Pastelera Caramelizada (millefoille) were good (B) and I loved the homemade no label muscatel (A+).
I was served by a very nice lady who if anything was a bit too attentive. The décor is modern and bright with a TV showing how their dishes are made, which makes for addictive viewing. It’s an experience so go by all means but Camarena’s places are better. Arrive early or reserve.
Casa Vela (Intermediate A), Carrer D’Isabel la Catolica, www.restaurantecasavela.com, Closed Sundays
A small but high quality tapas bar and deli, since 1908. They can seat about twenty at tables in the back. I came at lunchtime for a mixed tuna salad which I couldn’t fault (A). Big wine selection available.