Archive for Meson Cervantes

Málaga – Eating in the Centro

Posted in Andalusia, Centro, Malaga, Malaga Province, Spain with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2017 by gannet39

I’ve put my favourites first and a few to avoid at the end. Old bodegas and rooftop bars have been given their own posts. You’ll find everything on this Google map.

El Pimpi (Intermediate A), 62 Calle Grande,

A local institution, centrally located near the amphitheatre on Calle Alcazabilla. It’s a big place with two entrances, a sizable terrace out front and a couple of seating areas inside. It was very busy when I went, mainly with tourists.

The building is very intriguing; attractively decorated inside with ceramic tiles, old bodega barrels and climbing plants.

The name comes from the colourful characters who would help disembarking ship passengers get what they wanted, although whether they were tour guides or flesh-peddlers seems a little unclear.

In 2013, wanting a healthy lunch, I had the ‘Ensalada Malaguena con Salmorejo, Naranja y Bacalao Asado’; a Malagan salad of cold tomato and bread soup, oranges and grilled salt cod, which was excellent (A).

With a bottle of water the bill was €8.80. The food was beautifully presented and everything looked and tasted great.

Meson Cervantes (Intermediate B+), 11 Calle Álamos,

The original and largest member of the small Cervantes chain (three locations all nearby) which feature highly in the TripAdvisor rankings. Although only at #8 at the time of writing in 2016, it easily has the most reviews, which is what I tend to look for on the rare occasions I use TripAdvisor.

My friend Terry and I ran up a bill of only €41 between us (I know, I wasn’t very hungry). We shared three tapas (salmon, jamon iberico, piquillo peppers), a half portion of seared tuna…

…four medium beers and two glasses of Legaris Crianza, the latter quite expensive at €6 a pop. I was too busy chatting to take notes but everything was good.

El Tapeo de Cervantes (Low Intermediate B+), 8 Calle Carcer,

This is the much smaller, and more cramped, sister bar of Meson Cervantes above, just around the corner. It was at #6 in 2016, it easily and had the second most reviews. Again, it’s very popular so reservations are recommended.

In 2016 I came here on my first night with a hunger for Spanish food and wine that took a bit of sating. After a beer to quench my thirst I had glasses of three different Riberas and six tapas, all of which was very good (A/B).

The grilled Atun Rojo with cauliflower puree (see pic above) was a winner and these Mollejas (sweetbreads) from the specials board were also a favourite.

Despite my gluttony, the bill came to a reasonable €31.50.

El Marisquero (Elementary B+), 7 Calle Olozaga

This marisqueria, out the back door of the market on Calle Atarazanas, was recommended by a local food blog. It’s a down-to-earth, basic kind of tapas place with standing areas both inside and out so you can catch the shade or the sun as you like. The grilled prawns I had were very good (B+) and it was bliss to slake my thirst with a couple of ice cold canas.

La Cosmopolita Malagueña (Intermediate B), 3 Calle Jose Denis Belgrano

Recommended by the Guia Repsol, this is a tapas bar and restaurant located in the busy part of town but with surprisingly few customers, despite having a terrace on a quiet side street. I’m sure the items on the main restaurant menu are excellent but there seems to be a limited choice of tapas.

I had tapas of the Albondigas and Croquetas de Puchero which, along with three canas, brought the bill to €12. The quality was good so I would go back to try their mains.

El Jardín (Intermediate B+), 1 Calle Cañón,

I come to this beautiful old café just for the décor (Belle Epoque fittings, lots of cut glass lampshades and lace tablecloths).

According to the barman the building dates from 1927 and it’s called ‘The Garden’ because it’s right next to the lovely garden behind the cathedral.

I haven’t eaten but I know G&T made with Beefeater (they didn’t have Bombay) costs a mere €5, much cheaper than the rooftop bars I review elsewhere. Although I love the interior, I wouldn’t mind sitting on the big pavement terrace outside. There’s Tango dancing on Thursdays for more energetic people.

La Esquinita del Chupa y Tira (Elementary B), 31 Calle Victoria

This is an old grocery shop that has had its storeroom converted into a tapas bar. They sell wine, cheese and ham, both Spanish and Italian, and the prices are very cheap. The friendly young waitress was Italian by birth so perhaps there are some family connections. It’s nothing out of this world but makes a nice stop on the way to this next place.

Montana (Intermediate B+), 5 Compas de la Victoria

This is a very nice spot as at the back as they have a covered courtyard terrace and a garden with palm trees and a pond with carp and terrapins.

According to the blog they do a tasting menu but you have to order ahead. I had a half portion of Rabo de Toro Croquetas which were nice (B).

Also,‘Huevos Rotos al Estilo Candido con Ajada y Secreto Iberico Confitado’, basically shreds of good quality sautéed pork artistically placed atop a fried egg and potato. The bloggers raved about this although for me it was fine but nothing special (B).

On the other hand I really enjoyed a couple of glasses of excellent an Ribera del Duero from Lopez Cristobal (B+).

The bill came in at €18.50. Service was pleasant.
This is a good place for a romantic date, especially if you snag a table under the palms.


El Refectorium (Advanced B+), 8 Calle Cervantes,

For some reason I thought this Frommers recommended place would be quite down to earth due to its location by the bullring but it’s actually fairly posh. Apparently it’s very popular with the matadors and their fans, so it’d probably impossible to get in when there’s a bullfight on. I went at a quiet time so I managed to get in without a reservation.

I had some I had some high quality local fare (B/B+) but I wouldn’t go back due to the fairly high prices, although the adjoining tapas bar might be more affordable.
Embarrassingly I forgot my wallet and had to go back to the hotel to get it. When I came back I was treated like a returning hero, with a ponche on the house and lots of cheers from the waiters!

These last few aren’t bad as such, just non-descript…

La Camapana (Elementary B+), 35 Calle Grande

A well-known and very popular tapas bar selling typical seafood dishes. I didn’t really explore the menu on my visit in 2013 but my squid rings, bravas and two large beers for €11.60 filled a hole.

El Chinitas (Intermediate C), 4-6 Calle Moreno Monroy

Another Frommers and Seleccion del Gourmet recommended restaurant.

It’s old school and atmospheric but I wasn’t particularly impressed by their tapas tasting menu (mainly C except for the cured ham).

La Farola de Orellana (Intermediate C), 5 Calle Moreno Monroy,

Over the road from El Chinitas and once owned by the same people although I’m not sure that’s still the case. I had a cana and a tapa of some cheese concoction which I’ve since obliterated from my memory. I didn’t like the food or the atmosphere so I doubt I’ll go back.

Okami (Intermediate C+), 18 Calle Cister,

Entirely edible Japanese food, but nothing special.

The ‘Pollo Teriyaki’ looked great but was a bit too salty for me, and I like lots of soya sauce.

The ‘Uramaki Atun’ and ‘Uramaki Salmon Mango’ were okay but amazing (B-).

For Mediterranean/Japanese fusion you’d be better off going to Ba (see my coming Malagueta post).

Salamanca – meat eating around Plaza Mayor

Posted in Castilla y Leon, Plaza Mayor, Salamanca, Spain with tags , , , , on March 14, 2015 by gannet39

20130628_222339I’ve been to Salamanca three times, this post is the latest one for March 2014. For my July 2006 and June 2013 experiences (architecture shots and reviews of formal restaurants) please click here. For my Google map please click here.

The heart of the city is the impressive and always busy Plaza Mayor. The square was the blueprint for squares all over the Spanish speaking world.

20130627_141251Sculpted heads of famous scholarly Spaniards can be seen beside all the portico arches all around the square and the main gate with its bells and statues is a spectacle in itself (please click to expand the photo).

20130627_234733Meats of many kinds are the things to eat in Salamanca, but in particular the region’s cured ham which is some of the best in Spain.

For tidbits to take home I definitely recommend you visit the carnecerias and charcuterias in the Mercado Central (just over the road from the east exit of the square).

It’s probably cheaper to shop in the market than in the delis on Calle Rua Mayor but the delis do have larger selections that have been vaccuum packed. Look for jamon from Guijuelo, a small town near Salamanca which is the best stuff apparently.

Sorry about this next bleached out photo but I love the facade of the market’s main entrance and wanted you to see it.

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I avoided the restaurants in Plaza Mayor last time as I thought they’d be tourist traps but when a couple of teachers I was working with told me that there were actually some good places for eating meat, I decided to give them a go.

All the following three restaurants were recommended by meat loving locals. The first was my favourite for the quality of the food, the second was good for its atmosphere and the third for a mixture of both.

Bambu (Interemediate A), 4 Calle Prior (next to Burger King, on the street leading from the south west corner of Placa Major), Tel. 923 260 092,

This restaurant and tapas bar is very handy for my colleagues staying just around the corner at the Hotel Catalonia. It’s still a little hard to find due to its unimposing sign and the fact it’s located in a cellar but don’t let these things put you off, the food is very good.

The décor is bright, white and modern with a trendy green wall in one corner of the dining area. The tapas bar side seems to attract a lot of students which might indicate good value for money. However when I went, there was only one other occupied table in the restaurant besides myself which meant the service was very attentive.

To begin with I had the Torrija de Foie con Cebolla Caramelizade y Jamon Iberico which looked terrible but tasted great (A-), although I would regret using up stomach space for it later.

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Torrija is a traditional local dessert made for Lent; bread soaked in a mixture of sugar, spices and wine or milk, then dipped in egg and fried in olive oil, and here topped with pate, caramelized onion and cured ham, a great combo that I’d never experienced before.

For the main, Chuleton Ternera Charra, a large char-grilled veal chop, which was excellent as were the fries it came with, although I could have done with a few more of them (A-). A chuleton chop is a pretty hefty slab of meat, and I struggled to finish it due to my novice error of having a starter.

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The bottle of Ribera ‘Valdeuro’ Crianza (2009) went nicely (B+). The total cost was €46.20 which was good value I thought.

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I moved on to the bar which had an extensive selection of international spirits, including several Spanish cognacs, of which I’m a keen aficionado. I’m always keen to try new ones, in this case the Terry 1900, a solera reserva. The normal Terry is one of my least favourites but this reserva was pretty good (B) and a steal at €3.50.

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The waiter didn’t know how to serve it though. When I asked for a saucer he put it under the hot glass instead of on top. The idea being to trap the delicious fumes so you can savour them before taking a sip.

He did tempt me into trying a new ponche (a brandy based liqueur) called Soto. Although better (C+) than the ubiquitous Caballero (C), I remain unimpressed by this liqueur.

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Bambu is a good place to go, especially if you like meat. The tapas are probably pretty good too. On the list for next time.

Meson Cervantes (Interemediate B), 15 Placa Major (on the east side, up some stairs to the second floor)

In terms of décor and ambience, this busy place with its olde worlde feel, is the exact opposite of Bambu above. It’s all dark wood with shelves and walls heaving with semi-interesting junk like flintlock rifles and old coffee machines. If you’re lucky you can avoid looking at it all by bagging a table with a window looking out over the square which is much more atmospheric.

The service here was better than at Bambu, and I was well taken care of by the friendly old chap waiting on my table.

On the downside the food wasn’t as good. The Chuleton here (essentially a large chop) was one of the biggest hunks of meat I’ve ever been served, it must have weighed a kilo!

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Size was not an indication of quality however and I could only score it a B- due to the lack of flavour. The fries with it were a bit brown  overcooked brown but edible (C) and I got a lot more of them than last time, but still less can be more.

The 2011 ‘Senorio de Nava’ Ribera roble I had to go with it was a good match (B+).

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I should have had one of the homemade (casersas) desserts offered but wanting something to go with the last of my wine, I had the Tarta de Tres Chocolates, which was bog standard out of a packet fare (C).

They know how to serve their brandy here though and the Carlos I (for €6.60) transported me to heaven (A). Total cost €51.60 which was fair enough for the amountI had. The quality wasn’t good enough for me though so I don’t think I’d go back.

Don Mauro (Advanced B+), 19  Placa Major, Tel. 9233 281 487,

I came to this big popular place on the west side of the square on my last night. The spacious tapas bar was heaving with locals and the menu looked very tempting, but I went instead to the formal restaurant at the back to rest my weary bones.

I got good service from the slightly severe waiters although I wasn’t too keen on the crappy table they gave me by the kitchen door.
On the plus side I did get an unordered sample of Jamon Curado, which of course was fantastic (A).

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Wanting a big beef hit I had the stewed oxtail aka Rabo de Toro. It’s one of my most favourite Spanish dishes, and although this one was ok (B), I’ve had more flavoursome and better presented versions. The unattractive chunks of potato (C) strewn across it didn’t do much to help the appearance of this ugly but very tasty dish.

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It’s hard to go wrong with red wine in Spain, and the 2009 Marquis de Caceres Rioja crianza I had here did the business (B+).

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The final glass of Magno cognac finished things nicely. It’s a good third tier brandy I usually get in bars, but at €5 it was a bit pricey here, although it probably would have been cheaper in the tapas bar.

Total cost €36.30, pretty good value again. I’d come back.

I really wanted to go to the art deco museum Casa Lis on this trip but was thwarted by their opening times. The earliest visitors can enter is at 11am every day which sadly was when I had to start work. The pictures I found on the net are beautiful.

It’s always good to leave something for next time…


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