When a restaurant has a fur-lined tortoise on the end of a stick hanging on its wall, describing it as having eclectic décor doesn’t quite do it justice.
Casa Pache, hidden down a plant pot-lined alley not far from Plaza del Charco, is one of the more curious restaurants in Puerto de la Cruz. Apart from being in a central location that escapes the radar of most visitors to the town, its hours of opening have only the slightest of connections to reality. Many times we’ve taken visitors to it to find it mysteriously closed. We’ve learned to always have a back-up restaurant in mind. The last time we tried, however, it was open for business.
Forget having your decision making skills tested by the menu, they’ll be severely challenged by just choosing where to sit. More like a family home than a restaurant, Casa Pache’s dining areas are pleasingly unconventional – each room has its own personality with bright, colour wash walls, old photos of obscure (to me) Spanish actors, paintings and artefacts that range from instruments to hats to antique washbasins and… yes, a tortoise on a stick.
All rooms are intimate. Normally that can mean small and Casa Pache’s rooms and alcoves are cosily so. It can feel as though you’re the only people in the place which lends it an air of homely exclusivity.
Although, in the past, Casa Pache has produced the most creative tapas we’ve ever had the pleasure of scoffing (space dust ravioli) the menu is surprisingly conventional. A selective range of classic Canarian dishes are presented in much the same way as they’re presented elsewhere which, after the inspirational ravioli sorpresa in the past, is a wee bit disappointing if you eat Canarian cuisine a lot.
If you’re a visitor to Tenerife, it’s a different story. This is a real find of a place to try out good, Canarian home cooking. It’s unsophisticated, peasant fare but it hits the spot nicely.
To start we had queso a la plancha (grilled cheese drizzled with honey and mojos) and huevos al estampido (basically fried eggs with chorizo and herbs on French fries). Huevos al estampido is one of those dishes that I keep forgetting what it is and therefore am constantly surprised when it turns out to be egg and chips with knobs on.
For main course it was cabra (goat) for me and cordero (lamb) for Andy, accompanied by an earthy local red. I’m particularly partial to the way Canarios cook cabra by marinating it in gentle but savoury lip-licking spices. It’s normally served on Tenerife with French fries so I had chips for starters and chips for main, using up my chips quota for the month in one go. It wasn’t the best cabra I’ve had on Tenerife (goat meat can be quite fatty) but it was tasty (ditto Andy’s lamb) and the relaxed, friendly atmosphere in the Casa Pache added a point or two to the enjoyment factor.
All in all Casa Pache is a memorably quirky and friendly family restaurant which dishes up very typical Canarian cuisine at prices that’ll have you questioning the bill to check if you’ve been undercharged.
As to solving the mystery of the fur-lined tortoise, we didn’t. The owners didn’t know what it was, thinking it was an instrument of some sort. Personally I thought it was a rather funky bed warmer. Go along, have a meal in a wonderful old house and if anyone can identify what purpose the ‘tortoise’ has please, please let us know.
Calle La Verdad 6; +34 922 37 25 24, Main courses from around €5