Masca gets all the visitors but drive further into the Teno Mountains and there are more valleys with vistas that has your camera screaming ‘let me out, let me out.’
El Palmar is one of our favourites and life here flows at a gentle pace (you can translate that as not much happens). It’s beautiful and tranquil and driving through the valley reinforces my belief that getting about Tenerife under your own steam beats excursions hand down. You see an inviting restaurant and you stop.
That’s how we came to be sitting on the terrace of Mesón del Norte. It was an impulse stop.
Mesón del Norte sits overlooking the El Palmar Valley, on a level with where buzzards soar. I know this as there was one eye-balling me as we parked the car.
With views of the valley on tap there was no contest between grabbing a table inside or on the outside terrace. The menu is very typical of Canarian hill town with all the local favourites on show – conejo (rabbit), cabra (goat), cherne (wreckfish), puchero (Canarian stew) – as well as Argentinian steaks.
After a long morning researching towns and villages and walking along goat trails we had a bigger appetite at lunchtime than normal so decided to opt for the Menú del Dia at €10 per person.
Typically Tenerife Cuisine: The Food at Mesón del Norte
Tenerife cuisine isn’t sophisticated fare but how it’s cooked and presented can vary enormously across the island. There are some places where the food is plonked on your plate with as much care as if it were being put in a dog’s bowl. The two sweet, small bowls of creamy alioli (garlic mayonnaise) and almogrote (cheese paté from La Gomera) that accompanied the bread to kick off lunch suggested Mesón del Norte took as much care over presentation as they did with their cooking.
Andy’s starter was a typically chunky Canarian salad with a mountain of tomato, onion, carrot, sweet corn, olives and lettuce. Canarian salads usually lack finesse and this was no different although the light dressing had more imagination than the usual ‘drizzled with olive oil and wine vinegar’ affairs. I thought I got the better deal with a peppery rancho Canario; a soup like stew with noodles, potatoes, chickpeas, ham and chorizo icebergs.
For her main course Andy had opted for the cherne; three decent fillets with a grilled golden surface drizzled with a light cilantro dressing. It’s a dish you’ll find in every Canarian restaurant (minus the dressing) but Mesón del Norte’s version was of a higher standard than many. My pork fillet was a generous size, tasty and tender. In the end a pork fillet is a pork fillet but, like the cherne, this one was better than average.
As you’d expect of a Canarian restaurant, the food came with papas arrugadas and mojos; although the pork also came with a sneaky pile of French fries. These were better than the norm as well – home made, golden and crispy.
Although the first and second courses were shining examples of Canarian cuisine, the postre (dessert) was the stand out dish and as good a postre as I’ve tasted in Tenerife. Crema de limón, a lemon mousse, doesn’t sound overly exciting but the one at Mesón del Norte works magic, it was creamy, light and with a flavour that just knocks you back in your chair. When it comes to a choice between starters or puds, I’ll opt for starters every time (Andy’s the opposite) but that crema de limón was a game changer.
Lunch at Mesón del Norte was an impromptu stop; and it was one that had us questioning why we didn’t do it more often.
Good food, great views, a relaxing and friendly ambience… and sunshine. It’s what lunchtimes should be all about.
Mesón del Norte; CarreterGeneral de Masca, 1, Las Portelas; Buenavista del Norte; (+34) 922 128 049; Main courses are around €10-12. Our menú del dia with wine included came to just under €25
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites plus lots of other things. Follow Jack on Google+