I prefer to eat outside the busy resorts like Costa Adeje and Playa de las Americas, but I make exceptions, and one of them is to eat in any of the restaurants in the Venture Group. Venture has four restaurants in the Safari Center which straddles the border between Playa de Las Americas and Los Cristianos; the chic Bianco, the oriental Imperial Tai-Pan, the delicious Thai Botanico and the new addition Empire, described by owner Rob, as “upmarket pub grub.”
My, but pub grub was never like this when I lived in England. The menu includes starters like Asparagus with Crispy Poached Egg and Vanilla-Spiked Hollandaise Sauce, and Platter of Ham Hock with Cracked Sea Salt & Apple Purée; and main courses like Honey Glazed Roasted Duck Breast with Foie, and Stilton Cheesy Dumplings, as well as grilled steaks, chops, and even pies and Bangers and Mash – staple pub fare maybe, but all with a unique twist.
I went last week, a couple of weeks after it opened. One thing absolutely reliable is the welcome when you arrive at a Venture Restaurant. You feel right away that your custom is valued, the service is always friendly and well-timed. Oh the indecision, as I read the almost poetic description of each dish, the poor waiter had to come back three times before we were ready to order, and every time was more cheerful.
I finally decided on Salmon Fishcakes with Avocado Mousse. Trying new food is my favourite pastime, but I also like to see how a new place handles a familiar dish. These fishcakes were made with chunks of salmon and not the mashed-up stodge which is common in so many places, and the mousse was a perfect complement to the taste, not overwhelming it.
For main course I had Wild Mushroom Wellington. This was definitely a new taste sensation for me. I’m not vegetarian, but often eat veggie dishes and this was simply divine, the pastry light, and the mushrooms, cooked with a goat’s cheese mousse, baby basil and spinach, simply melted on my tongue.
My companion had The Ultimate Fish Pot Pie, which, like my fishcakes, was full of whole chunks of salmon and scallops, and for starters Seared Queen Scallops on Sliced Crispy Belly Pork with Crushed Cream Peas. I had tiny tastes of each (in the interests of research, naturally) and noted both for future visits.
Now for the bad news – no room for dessert! Although we waited a while (without feeling hassled to get the table turned over) we just couldn’t find space, but I found a solution – I returned one afternoon a few days later and had dessert with a cup of tea – perfect mid-afternoon snack and I can report that the Apple Tart with Smashed Almonds is a winner, but that the Ultimate Chocolate Fondant with raspberry sorbet is simply out-of-this-word. No, I didn’t have both, just a taste of my friend’s. Empire are going to do tea and cake soon, so it looks set to be a good bet for gorging all day long. They also do brunches and light bites starting from 12pm.
Hmm – I’m thinking I might need to join a gym before I eat there again.
Category : food and drink
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