In Britain I’d generally avoid food outlets in shopping centres like the plague as most seem to be ‘painting by numbers’ junk food joints and restaurant chains where the name is more important than what’s being served – bland fare for those hungry for labels.
That prejudice still lives on even though time and time again in Spain I find that the food in shopping centres (as it is in petrol stations) is usually pretty damn good. The best and beefiest burger I’ve eaten on Tenerife was in a shopping centre.
Recently in Santa Cruz de Tenerife we met up with a friend and decided to grab a quick bite in the city. The closest place to us was the C.C. Meridiano so we popped in there…and discovered Lizarran.
Lizarran’s method of serving tapas was a first for me – you simply choose from rows of montaditos, or pinchos (small open sandwiches) costing a couple of euros each. Devour them with lip-smacking satisfaction and keep the toothpick that holds the ‘ingredients’ on the slice of crusty bread together. The person at the till then works out your bill based on the number of toothpicks on your plate.
It’s a wonderfully simple system apart from two things. The number of pinchos to choose from are enough to make your head spin. I mean how is it possible to choose from smoked cod on a tomato confit base with black olive vinaigrette, griddled sirloin steak with Padrón peppers, Mallorcan pork and paprika sausage with melted brie and creamy cheese with dates, nuts and raisins in a chocolate sauce (yes, you read that right). Especially when there’s also mint sausage from Girona with garlic mayonaise or tortilla with smoked salmon or…or…
It makes for a lot of chin pulling and plenty of ‘momentito mas’ mumblings.
The second thing that makes lunch life difficult at Lizarran is that even though you’ve gone through agony to make a decision and your Galician cooked jamón in olive oil, salt and paprika was delish they throw a curve ball at you by every so often parading the latest selection of freshly prepared tapas on a tray around the restaurant. It’s a devious and evil plan. There’s no way you can ignore griddled loin sausage topped with a fried quail egg as it wafts past your nose.
And so the toothpicks pile up.
I now know that Lizarran is part of a chain and so my opening comments are probably hypocritical but I liked the fact that it was different and the tapas, having northern Spanish roots, more varied than is normally found on Tenerife. Plus the food just seemed more imaginative and of better quality than the franchise fare I remember in the UK.
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+