We ‘stumbled’ across La Cuadra de San Diego whilst researching La Matanza in north Tenerife. We’d spotted an interesting looking building down a side street and went to investigate what turned out to be a hacienda dating from the 16th century. Its cobbled courtyard with huge wine barrels and tea wood balconies looked as though all they were missing were flamboyantly dressed adventurers and buxom wenches serving flagons of frothy beer.
By contrast, an upper courtyard was filled with stylish tables populated by equally stylish people. At this point the penny dropped that La Cuadra de San Diego was a restaurant. A look at a menu revealed that, as well as looking irresistibly inviting, La Cuadra de San Diego served food that was different from the norm. We vowed to return to eat there.
Six years later we kept our vow.
The sun was shining so we opted for a courtyard table under a drago tree rather than one in the fern-filled rustic interior.
A first perusal of the menu had me wondering if the food wasn’t quite as imaginative as it had been 6 years previously. After a re-read it became clear that although tapas dishes sounded familiar, they had been given an off-the-wall twist; papas bonitas (speciality local potatoes) didn’t come with mojos (Canarian pepper and coriander sauces) they came with almond sauce. Almogrote (cheese pate) wasn’t orange, it was green; flavoured by coriander, not red chillies.
We chose a selection of tapas and a half litre of cherry coloured home-grown wine (La Cuadra has its own vineyard and finca) and sat back, enjoying having the courtyard nearly all to ourselves.
First to arrive was the almogrote verde which looked great and, if anything, tasted better than the pungent and spicy traditional version; coriander adding a calming contrast to the strong cheese. It was accompanied by a mountainous salad of spinach, leek and bacon that was quickly reduced to a rubble. Churros de pescado (battered goujons of fish) didn’t stray from the norm except the pieces were bigger than usual and the chunky white fish was clearly good quality.
Best was a fondue of Canarian cheeses in a huge roll. Devouring it was part unusual dining experience and part game as we each had to break off a part of the outer roll in order to scoop out the rich savoury sauce inside. The more the roll was reduced, the greater the risk of a collapse and a messy cheesy eruption.
It’s rare you get a dish that gives the taste-buds a treat and is good fun to eat.
La Cuadra de San Diego had lived up to our expectations. We won’t be waiting another six years before we return.
Lunch for four with wine, water and two desserts came to €52; excellent value considering the creativity of the cuisine combined with historic surroundings that had us lingering over a lovely, long lunch.
Calle Botella,2; (+34) 922 578 385; open Thursday 1pm- 4pm and 7.30pm to 11pm, Sunday 1pm to 4pm
Category : food and drink
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