A crescent of restaurants curve downwards around the small harbour at Los Abrigos, their lights casting silver and gold trails across bobbing blue boats. It’s an enchanting scene.
Near the harbour is the sophisticated king of the row of restaurants, Los Roques. Los Roques is generally recognised as one of the best restaurants on Tenerife and Tripadvisor users voted it as one of the 10 best restaurants in Spain; a list that includes gastronomic luminaries such as the Roca Brothers and Martín Berasategui.
Its terrace overlooking the sea occupies one of the most romantic dining spots on Tenerife. Specially designed table lights illuminate what’s on the plate and cast a soft, attractive glow on your face. A wooden rail running the length of the terrace is at the perfect height for casually resting your arm across as you recount witty tales. It’s no random feature. Everything at Los Roques has been carefully designed to create a special dining experience.
Tables are wide enough so you don’t have to play culinary chess to manoeuvre plates and bottles into position so they all fit, yet small enough to feel intimate. The restaurant is cosy but with enough space between tables so it isn’t claustrophobically so. A chill-out soundtrack is at a volume to make eavesdropping difficult but quiet enough so you can hang on your partner’s every word.
A lot of work has gone into creating an attractive restaurant with an easy atmosphere that instantly makes you feel at home.
Savouring the Sublime: The Food at Los Roques
We had a restaurant experience recently where the staff made dining feel awkward and confusing. Owner Peter Borg and dining room manager Silviu live in a very different street. Amiable, passionate and knowledgeable, you feel as though you can ask them anything. Frequent stops as they pass diners’ tables feel natural; they want to know their customers are enjoying themselves.
With their helpful steer we were able to choose from a nice sized menu from which I could have happily eaten any of the items.
I love the tradition of an amuse-bouche to get your juices flowing. Los Roques’ was a slim glass of orange and carrot soup with a light potato mousse. The zesty, creamy flavour with a spicy, ginger flick had me mourning the fact I didn’t have a bowl of it. It was accompanied by home-made breads (including olive ciabatta, cheese and pink crusted beetroot bread) with three dips – almogrote, tapenade and hummus. The almogrote (a creamy cheese pate whose intense flavours screamed ‘WAKE UP’ to any tastebuds still slumbering) and the tapenade (all salty, black olive goodness) bullied the hummus into the background.
With the culinary scene nicely set, Andy started with a tender herb crusted beef carpaccio that melted into the wafer-thin shavings of cured cheese on its surface. I plumped for tod mun pla (Thai fish cakes) on a cucumber salad with chilli jam. I’m a tod mun pla fan and was slightly disappointed with my first taste; there was no explosion of South East Asian flavours.
However, I’d rushed my first bite down my throat before it could unpack its bags. I let the second linger longer and this time the flavours had time to unravel; a hint of lemon grass and ginger (or galangal) followed by a touch of piquancy bringing up the rear. They contrasted beautifully with the fresh cucumber salad and perked up even more with the chilli jam.
Andy’s main course consisted of sea bass and Italian bean stew with green beans, tomato, potatoes and chipotle chili pepper – a light Mediterranean mix with the moist fish flesh protected by a crispy skin topping.
My choice, slow roasted beef rib was a real surprise. The meat had such intense flavours that I checked with Peter it was actually beef. I’ve never eaten short rib beef before and had no idea it packed such a flavour-filled punch. The dish came with confit potato, baked garlic tomato, a bed of aubergine purée and a chimichurri salsa (an Argentinian sauce whose secret ingredients Chef Seba Rodríguez won’t reveal) so different combinations on the fork brought wonderfully varying tastes.
When it came to desserts, there was no messing. When we asked Peter if he had any recommendations, ‘palta’ and ‘Bailey’s ice cream truffle’ were out of his mouth before we’d finished the question.
The Bailey’s truffle is one of those ‘grown up’ puds; all dark and sultry. The cool ice cream, inside a hard shell, sits atop a chocolate sponge platform. Mix them all together and it’s a glorious symphony of tastes and textures.
Mine was good but Andy’s was better.
Palta, avocado and lime sorbet on an almond biscuit afloat in a thyme scented white chocolate sea, sounds exactly what it tastes like – a wild fiesta of summery flavours. Whilst other desserts come and go, this one’s been on the menu forever. One bite and you know why.
The palta illustrates exactly why Los Roques is so popular and stands out from other restaurants. From the gastronomy to the restaurant’s design and staff who make people feel welcome and special, diners at Los Roques are served a winning blend of the most delicious and top quality ingredients.
And Los Abrigos is a dream setting.
Restaurant Los Roques; Calle La Marina, 16; Los Abrigos; (+34) 922 749 401; main courses average €18.50; Tasting menus from €38; there are vegetarian options available.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+