I had a very brief stay in Xàtiva (Játiva in Castellano), for just two nights, so I didn’t have time to see the sights, like the castle on the hill and the old palaces along Carrer Montcada, due to work and not wanting to go out in the heat. It was also bad timing for restaurants because of the double whammy of being there on a Sunday and Monday in August; the two days that most places close for a day off, in a month when many also close for a longer holiday. Still, I had a couple of experiences worth passing on. You’ll find everywhere I mention on my Google map.
Casa La Abuela (Intermediate B+), 17 Calle de la Reina, www.casalaabuelaxativa.es, open Monday evening
‘Grandma’s House’ is an old school place that I discovered via the Lonely Planet guide. I went on a Monday evening which might explain why it was empty all night except for one other table. The food was simply prepared but generally good. Lonely Planet suggested having the Arroz con Costra, an Alicante-style rice dish baked in the oven, but you needed a party of at least two people to order it.
Paco the waiter (manager/owner?) is a nice chap if a bit strange. He spent ages chatting to me about food before unceremoniously throwing me out at around eleven thirty! Proceedings began with a complimentary tapa of Pisto (a cold stew of peppers and other veg) on, I think, coca bread. I was in the mood for meat so I continued with some Jamon Iberico (B) and followed up with the Entrecot de Ternera a la Parrilla (B) with some thick chips which weren’t all that impressive (C). Next, a few slices of Queso de Oveja Anejo , aged sheep’s cheese, which was wonderful (A). At Paco’s suggestion I had a few glasses of Rafael Cambra ‘Dos’, a red from the comarca La Costera y La Val (in the Valencian DO) which I enjoyed a lot (B+).
I finished off with some Monjavena (Almoixavena), an oven pudding made with a sweet batter of flour, eggs and butter which, as the Valencian name suggests, is of Arabic origin. Paco talked about it (along with the sad death of Roubichon that day) for so long that all the Leche Merengade ice cream had melted before I could eat it! Hence the lace of a grade. With this a glass of sweet Mistela Moscatel Turis, a ‘Vino de Licor’, again from the Valencia DO (B).
I love the bars in old places like this because there’s often a bottle of something interesting hiding at the back of a shelf. This lovely old ridged bottle of Anis comes from Destilería Ayelo in the nearby town of Aielo de Malferit (B+).
A total overspend again, €55, but I enjoyed myself and learned a few new things.
Canela y Clavo (Intermediate B) at 64 Alameda Jaume I, www.canelayclavo.com was recommended by the hotel reception who said it was okay and a local from a nearby village who said it was one of the best places in town. In Auguest 2018, it was TripAdvisor #22 and the second most reviewed. It’s a convenient choice for my colleagues as it’s a stonesthrow from the Hotel Vernisa and open on open Sunday and Monday. For lunch one day I had a decent (B) Menu del Dia (salad, canelones, melon) for a piffling €7.50. I was less impressed with the Croquetas de Gambas on another visit (C).
Avoid Bierwinkel Xàtiva at 10 Baixada del Carme which does the worst Rabo de Toro I’ve ever not eaten. I only went because there was nowhere else nearby open on a Sunday evening. My advice is to hunt further afield if you’re in the same boat.
I stayed at the Hotel Vernisa www.hotelvernisa.com, a decent two star with spacious rooms, friendly staff and nice cornetos for breakfast if little else. It’s just a few blocks away from the train station.
Now for Murcia…