Palmones is a small village between Algeciras and La Linea that’s known for its seafood restaurants and it seems a lot of people from neighbouring towns come here for a meal at the weekends. Google map here.
As it was only €10 in a taxi from the Hotel AC in Algeciras (€15 coming back!) I thought I’d give it a try on a Thursday night. I turned out to be the only customer in both the places I went to so perhaps it’s better to go at the weekend for more atmosphere but maybe book ahead as I’m told the restaurants can get very busy.
Both the following places were recommended by two different teachers in Algeciras and La Linea but unfortunately I was a bit disappointed with them. The jury is still out though and I’m willing to give the town a second chance if I’m in the area again.
El Copo (Advanced B+), 2 Almadraba, www.elcopo.es
‘The Cup’ is the most famous restaurant in Palmones and probably the oldest by the look of it. Guia Repsol have awarded them one sun so they should be pretty good. The décor is generally on a nautical theme with lots of fishing nets with glass weights. In the bar there’s some bullfighting memorabilia. There’s hardly any space left on the walls.
There are some murky looking crab and lobster tanks dotted around and some questionable water features. Not quite sure what this is supposed to be.
A soundtrack of dodgy disco and Latin classics is played on tinny speakers which is quite painful when you have no one to converse with.
This restaurant is clearly the whimsical work of a strong personality who was once the man to know according to the pictures on the wall. Nowadays though I get the feeling he is resting on his laurels and has let things slide. I did actually meet Senor Manuel Moreno briefly at the end; a chap the size of Pavarotti who has clearly done some good eating in his time.
The waiters that night were two old boys who were very hard to understand and although not downright unpleasant, obviously hadn’t had many dealings with foreigners and weren’t particularly welcoming.
The old guy who served me couldn’t answer any of the questions I had about the menu and the explanations he ferried back from the kitchen were even harder to comprehend than the written original. Usually I scrape through with my dodgy Spanish grammar and fairly extensive knowledge of food vocabulary, but not here.
And so, on to the food. There is an impressive range of seafood and fish on offer but much of the menu is aimed at groups or couples. The tasting menu (€48 in 2016) and rice dishes are all for a minimum of two people so were unavailable to me as a lone diner.
I decided to try some local classics beginning with the Pate de Atun or Pate Mantecada as it’s sometimes called, that is, large slabs of tuna smothered in lard to preserve it. My half portion was pretty hefty but I polished it off without a problem (B). The presentation was pretty poor though; a slice of orange with a small dollop of fish roe (the waiter didn’t know which fish) and a stalk of parsley stuck in the lard as an afterthought.
After this a half portion of Almejas de Carril al Jerez (Galician clams steamed in sherry) which were too salty even for this salt addict (B-).
Then another half portion of Tortitas de Algas del Mar con Camarones (seaweed pancakes with shrimp) which seem to be inspired by Tortellitas de Camarones; a frittura of tiny shrimp in a batter. In the latter you can actually see the shrimp but here they liquidise the lot before frying them which seems a shame. They were oversalted again but not by as much this time (B-).
To drink I had the Jarra Especial de la Casa, a fizzy local wine made from Palomino grapes and served in terracotta which moved from an A to a B+ as it got tired.
I was tired of the place myself now and decided to finish eating somewhere else. However I went into the tapas bar (where I should have eaten in the first place) and was quite impressed by the number of rare and ageing bottles of spirits on the back bar, including a couple of brandies I’d not come across before. When I asked about the prices the waiter had to go and ask.
Mr Moreno appeared and insisted that I have a complementary glass of the house brandy. This turned out to be a heady mix of Spanish Cardenal Mendoza and French Napoleon brandies which went down very well (A).
I’d give this place a second chance if I was with a group or maybe come for a quick drink and bite as part of a tapeo.
Restaurante Willy (Intermediate C), 79 Avenida Andalucia
After La Copa I came here for a tapa just to check them out. The ubiquitous Tataki (on every menu in every fish restaurant I’ve been to in the area) caught my eye so I decided to try their version of this Japanese classic.
I regretted it as soon as I saw it. The ‘wasabe’ was a scary luminous green that hurt my eyes and it was served with some dry mini-toasts which I left untouched (C-).
So a disappointing trip to Palmones. I would go again to give it another try though.