Islandmomma

Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age

Fine Dining in Tenerife, or Why Should the Tourists Get All the Good Stuff?

11 Comments

I often ramble on about the great eateries on my island home, we have a huge variety of international restaurants and bars, and an abundance of excellent bars and cafés serving local food of one kind or another, but I don’t, in these difficult times, often have the opportunity to eat in a restaurant which would come under the “fine dining” heading.

How can I put this?  I love food!  I don’t consider myself to be “a foodie,” but I might come  close, and I’ve missed the subtleties and innovations of dining somewhere special, so when gfhoteles offered me dinner in their restaurant La Laja in the Costa Adeje Gran Hotel I jumped at the chance.

First, a word of explanation; I’ve stubbornly and intentionally kept this blog fairly low-key because I am very jealous my independence and integrity (long story for another time), and I wasn’t totally sure how accepting invitations fitted into that vision. After spending the past year observing how bloggers for whom I have a lot of respect deal with invitations, links, advertising,  etc I think I’ve worked out the way to go.

Invitations which are worded like this from gfhotels are okay: “You can write about your opinion, you can Tweet it, Facebook it or whatever, and you can say whatever you want.  If there are things you don’t like we will find your feedback useful, and we encourage you to write as you find, or to write nothing at all if you don’t want to.”  That sold me, plus there was also the opportunity to meet fellow blogger, Cailin O’Neil, who was here to write about the variety of Tenerife.

The Costa Adeje Gran is one of those very posh-looking establishments in the up-market Costa Adeje area, not somewhere with which I am especially familiar. Living here, many of us tend to ignore the tourist resorts, which is almost certainly our loss.  We tend to lump everything together as a “concrete jungle,” as do many writers and travel pundits. Generalizing is always a mistake.  Sure, there is a tacky side to Tenerife, there is a tacky side to Monte Carlo, and it doesn’t mean that there is nothing of quality to be enjoyed.  Certainly Adeje Town Hall has been pulling out the stops to present the municipality as the classier face of the island’s tourism, and it’s obvious that in the Costa Adeje Gran, as in some of the other finer hotels in the neighbourhood, they’ve found willing collaborators.

Calin and I arrived at the hotel’s main foyer, but there is a separate entrance to the restaurant. Still, it was interesting to observe the quality of the surroundings and the  well-dressed clientele. The lobby is huge and very impressive, and you can actually see the bottom of the swimming pool from beneath – very innovative but unfortunately it was evening, of course, so we didn’t get to see swimmers!  We had a warm welcome from Kathrin Jansen, and she gave us a peek at the main hotel dining room before going over to the restaurant, and the aroma made my mouth water. My anticipation mounted – if that was the ordinary dining room, what was La Laja going to be like?

What we entered was an elegant restaurant, with a strong Canarian connection, not minimalist, but something along those lines, and warmer and chic in the modern way.  This hotel belongs to a local group, gfhoteles, which has three more hotels on the island, and the walls of the restaurant’s reception area are lined with old, sepia photographs of Canarian life, including some of the family who began the venture. Fascinating for me – I would have gone just to see those!

We were shown to a stylishly-set corner table, and greeted by waiters who all had that knack of being both friendly but deferential, which is a sign of good training.  I have no complaints about the very friendly service in any of the places I like (I won’t go if service is bad), but it goes without saying that a restaurant of this quality needs something more, and that was the first box ticked. The area is divided into what I can only describe as nooks, with two or three table in each, and a longer section, all fashionably decorated.

Chef Pablo Aznar came out to have a word and talk us through the menu, my mouth watering at every syllable!  Pablo is from Zaragoza but has worked inTenerifefor eleven years now. Something life has taught me is that if you can get chance to talk with a chef or cook before you eat you get a sense of how good the meal is going to be, because when they talk with love and passion, as Pablo did, then all of that love and passion goes into their cooking. The anticipation mounted.

He explained about sourcing the best ingredients, and when he talked about receiving phone calls directly from the fishermen, telling of their latest catch and asking if he was in the market for whatever it was, there was no question in my mind that my choice was going to be fish, and then I spied the word “cinnamon” on a fish course, which clinched it! He recommended his  lasagne de pulpo for a local touch and a very Canarian desert of bananas and gofio ice cream.  Phew, decisions made I could concentrate on the enjoyment!

Ordering done, and menus handed back, fresh rolls and flavoured butters arrived. It was late by my dining norms, so I forwent those, but have it on good authority from  Cailin that they were delicious. This was a taste of things to come. I had been prompted by curiosity and recommendation (rather than a “Wow, that sounds good” feeling) to try the pulpo lasagne, so it was delightful to find that it easily surpassed expectations, it was tasty, slightly spicy but not too much and very melt-in-the-mouth.  I also had a slight reservation about pasta as a starter, but it wasn’t at all heavy and the portion was perfect, satisfying but not too filling! I began to feel as if I was floating!

For a split second, I regretted my choice of cod in a cinnamon reduction when my companions’ filet steaks arrived.  The presentation was charming, the steak in a little dish to collect the jus, and elegantly flambéed at the table. That reaction passed the moment I popped a morsel of the cod into my mouth though.  It was heavenly.  High expectations this time were quite justified, happily.

When my dessert came, I was pleased that I’d passed on bread and on red meat.  It was quite yummy – though I did covet Kathrin’s chocolate confection too!  My only regret is that I couldn’t try more than a glass of wine to accompany this feast, since  I was driving, so I can’t comment on the wine cellar.

Conversation over dinner turned towards why more locals don’t sample the dining opportunities local hotels offer.  In New York or in London or other European cities it’s quite normal to patronize a restaurant situated in a hotel, but here there is reluctance, and I hold up my hand.  For me I think it was to do with hotels being sited in tourist resorts, and the attendant problems, parking for one, but nearby La Laja there is ample parking.  I think that there is also probably a kind of snobbery (for want of a better word), in not wanting to mix with tourists.  Again that isn’t a problem with La Laja. The hotel’s clientele is clearly not of the beer belly and sunburn brigade, but judging by those I saw, altogether more sophisticated and elegant.  On the other hand, there is no need to be put off by the prices, which, at around €9.50 for a main course of high quality is only a little more than some very average restaurants.

Do I have any critique?  It seems fussy in the face of such scrumptiousness, but I would have like vegetables with my main course.  I’m a big fan of veggies, though no way vegetarian.  I did note on their New Year menu that they have vegetarian options – more about that later!

We, ex-pats, need, I think, to accept that there is a new kind of tourist attracted to the islands now, and why, on earth, should we not avail ourselves of the excellent facilities and opportunities that brings for us too?

Thanks to La Laja for a memorable meal, and apologies all round for the quality of the photos, which is well below the standard I aim for.  I think I was too aware of not using the flash so as not to annoy other diners, but I just hope the pix of the food are enough to whet your appetites if you live in Tenerife!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author: IslandMomma

Loving island life and exploring the freedoms Third Age brings: Challenging myself every day: writing, traveling, snapping pix, running & teaching ESL

11 thoughts on “Fine Dining in Tenerife, or Why Should the Tourists Get All the Good Stuff?

  1. Thank you very much for such a wonderful review .Let me tell you im totally agree with your point of why the heck we are not using the facilities like the tourist do,but i think when you said locals you mean ex-pats and locals from the south of the island,im spanish myself(please forgive my tacky english) from Candelaria and i’ve got lets say a option of 15 places where to eat in my village for example just next to the beach by the main church there is a little place that sells a grill fish and seafood platter for 15€ the platter is so big that you would have to undo your bell so if you ad to that the fact of 40 minutes drive to L.A make me feel a bit like i cant be bother but im 100% with you !We should use the facilities more! But like you said in New York ,London they do but to be fair it is a totally different thing and the aproach from the hotels is much better than here ,i can tell you im sure 90% of the population doesnt know La Laja because they dont advertise themself to the people from Tenerife .
    Anyway once again thank you so much for your wonderful review and looking forward more.
    P.D Being brutally honest with you I cant see the average Joe from Tenerife ordering Pulpo Lasagne but as soon as I can and i have a car i will give it a go because why not I also want to use the hotel dinning.

    • I hope I made your mouth water because the food really is good at La Laja! I wasn’t thinking only of expats (I rarely do, and my close circle of friends isn’t English in the main), but at the end of the day I suppose I expect it’s English-speaking people who will read because I write in English. My command of Spanish is, sadly, nowhere near good enough to blog in your beautiful lanaguage…and your English is far from tacky!!

      Don’t get me wrong! I’m not suggesting we should eat exclusively in these more luxurious places, there are some absolutely wonderful eating places all around the island of many different types, but for a special occasion, it’s nice to “dress up” and go somewhere more sophisticated. I’d love to know where that restaurant is, by the way! Is it in Candelaria? I’ve never found the right place to eat there, though I know places in Punta Large and Puerto de Guimar!

      I’m guessing that in the cities we named life grew up around the hotels (maybe this happens in Santa Cruz too?), whereas in the south of Tenerife the holiday resorts really are a place apart, especially the area from Los Cristianos to Costa Adeje. We don’t tend to think of the area as somewhere to go for anything, except perhaps if we work there.

  2. Totally agree about not always thinking about eating in hotel restaurants, Linda. We were talking about that today…funnily enough at La Laja (unfortunately I was only looking at the old pics rather than eating there).

    There seems to be some excellent and talented chefs in some of the grander hotels, but we always opt for a stand alone restaurant before a hotel restaurant.

    • Aren’t those pictures great? I want to go back just to look at them in more detail!

      I remember going to a demonstration at a Farmers’ Market last year conducted by a chef from one of the luxury hotels in Costa Adeje, and completely lost my note about who he was and at which hotel he worked, because the food he did that day was sublime, and I meant to go to wherever he worked. I’m an awful snob about touristy places, and I must learn to get over it.

  3. as they say ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’ but this is close enough to be worthwhile for you to do! and with the conditions as stipulated you felt you could be honest. a bit like trip advisor, I do try to review the good as well as the bad. so many people only go on to vent their spleen, which doesn’t really help anyone eh?
    all looked yummy and what I find interesting is that you had chosen what I would have, as opposed to the red meat option etc. just love fish and couldn’t not have fish somewhere with a record like that.
    there is a local restaurant who do a pudding called banana butty, which is one of those ‘trio’ type platters, which I have yet to try.

    • I wouldn’t accept anything other than under conditions like those. It’s the reason I haven’t upgraded this blog as yet. Working in both real estate and telecommunications I found that there were so many times I was expected to compromise my integrity that my greatest joy on leaving both was the relief in being able to be totally honest.

      Tripadvisor, however, is a joke. It is fraught with so many opportunities for abuse that I wouldn’t believe a word I read there, and I avoid it like the plague.

      Tenerife is famous for its fish restaurants, although many places serve a pretty mean goat too.

  4. “Tenerife is famous for its fish restaurants, although many places serve a pretty mean goat too.”
    LOL – marvellous sentence IM :-)

    Talking of mean goats (which I could happily do all day long of course) … best goat dish I’ve had on Tenerife was in the Parador hotel dining room (highest hotel in Spain ?). Of course it did help that the backdrop to the goat was the sun gradually setting behind el Teide. Anyway, recommended for good Canarian cuisine in the ultimate romantic setting.

  5. okay – that’s me told!

    • Ooops you mean about Tripadvisor? Sorry, didn’t mean to diss anything you write there. I’m sure your reviews are totally honest and accurate, but it is open to much abuse – as you mention, the whining poms (some of whom seize on the slightest thing to try to reclaim money back from hotels or tour operators – or complain because a bar in Tenerife is “too Spanish”! – see this post from friend and fellow blogger Jack Montgomery http://tenerifevirgins.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/why-you-shouldnt-holiday-in-puerto-de-la-cruz/ . Plus the fact that many of the reviews are accused of being false i.e. done by whatever business is being reviewed or by a competitor wanting to diss someone else……I suppose the same goes for Amazon.com and other online stuff, because there is no control. There are some court cases pending, but I think it’s impossible to control it all. It’s a huge shame because, of course, as in so many cases (just ask the folk in Playa de las Americas!) it’s that the “bad” few spoil it for the “good” majority.

  6. Linda, funny you mention your reluctance to accept ‘freebies’ or do reviews as I too felt the same way. I turned down offers of walking gear for review initially as I wanted the blog to be completely ‘non-commercial’. However, as you know, I do now write occasional gear reviews for free stuff from one national outdoors company, but this is on the understanding that I can write negative as well as positive aspects of the gear. Recently there was a bit of bickering in the outdoors blogshpere about freebies, but the majority of folks felt as I do, that most bloggers are honest and their integrity is not compromised by this. You can easily suss out those who are less than honest.

    Good review of this restaurant. When we’re on holiday we usually try to eat in a fine dining place once during our stay.

  7. It’s been the same in travel blogging, Sheila – although I barely include myself in that because I still want to stay non-commercial too. In travel blogging there has been a lot of discussion about sponsored posts of late, and paid links – I’m guessing that is the same in your sphere too. As you say, though, you do get an instinct about the “suspect” ones – that said, assuming the general public read blogs when they are researching something (outdoor gear, vacations, whatever) do they have those same instincts or is it because we read about our subjects every day that we can spot this stuff?

    End of the day, I suppose it’s all the expansion of the internet and its consequences. I keep reminding myself that Shakespeare was a brilliant writer – but Dan Brown has sold an awful lot of books too!

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