Otelo’s location in Adeje overlooking the ruggedly dramatic and shut (possibly soon to be re-opened) Barranco de Infierno has the draw of a Klingon tractor beam for tourists, as does its reputation for serving the local speciality, pollo al ajillo (or pollo picante de Adeje) – garlic chicken.
The restaurant itself is huge with interior and exterior dining areas that could accommodate the entire army of a small country. Nearly every table on the exterior terrace was taken. Having an almost guaranteed high number of diners every day can often result in complacency and a lowering of standards and quality.
Otelo hasn’t fallen into that trap.
The formula is simple. Forget everything else and go for the chicken. Ordering is simple, just tell them how many people and you’ll be rewarded with a plate piled high with crunchy chicken pieces that look finger-licking great.
We ordered the obligatory Canarian salad with bread and mojo rojo to give us something to munch on whilst the chicken was cooked. The salad, like most Canarian salads was the food equivalent of magnolia coloured walls – inoffensive but drearily dull (tomato… blah… lettuce… blah… onion… blah). That’s Canarian salads for you; they lack a certain imagination. Otelo’s salad was no worse or better than most other traditional restaurants. I liked their little touch of putting a bay leaf in the oil dressing though.
The garlic chicken, however, is a different matter. When first-timers, who insist on ordering something else from the menu, catch sight of that plate of pollo al ajillo arriving at the table, their eyes will invariably turn a bright shade of green.
It’s a simple dish with no pretensions; basically Adeje’s version of Kentucky fried chicken. On both times I’ve been there recently, the coating has been crisp and crunchy with a spicy, garlicky zing and with the chicken flesh still deliciously moist. The garlic isn’t overpowering, making the pollo picante de Adeje tag seem more appropriate – the average gambas al ajillo (prawns in garlic) is much more garlicky as is the version of garlic chicken we cook at home (admittedly this mainland Spanish version has you waking in the night feeling as though you’ve been abandoned in the Kalahari without water).
The chicken went down so well with the three of us tucking into the same clay bowl that at one point there was the threat of a The Good, The Bad, The Ugly style garlic chicken stand-off as the mountain of chicken dwindled to the last two pieces. The only thing that prevented the situation from turning ugly was the fact that the portion was so big that we had all passed and ignored the ‘full-up’ sign anyway.
Despite dealing with a never-ending turnover of people, the staff at Otelo’s were relaxed, friendly and super efficient. Being so close to the main southern tourist resorts on Tenerife, Otelo’s is popular with visitors, ex-pats and Canarios. It’s easy to understand why.
The food is good, the portions are large and the price is as friendly as a spaniel who wants its head patted. Throw in an epic backdrop and Otelo Restaurant is somewhat of a Tenerife classic for a long, leisurely lunch.
Restaurant Otelo, Calle Los Molino 44, Adeje; (+34) 922 780 374; open Wed-Mon 11.00am -11pm, closed Tuesday; our meal for three including drinks cost €32