Posts Tagged ‘Gibraltar’

Patagőnĭca

Posted: September 19, 2016 in Gibraltar, Restaurant Review
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patagonica-2

Whilst thousands of tourists, off our numerous cruise ships flock to Casemates Square, locals prefer to keep out of the heat and stick to the side-streets and back alleys that branch off Main Street. Recently, Chatham Counterguard and Parliament Lane have gone through a renaissance with new restaurants and eateries taking root, catering for those that work in the centre of town and its surrounding areas.

One such place benefiting from the rejuvenation of this district is Hacienda Patagőnĭca; found at the end of Parliament Lane.

Upon its sign going up, which was visible from Line Wall Road as you drove by; there was a buzz of excitement that a very good Argentinean Grill, of a reputable chain, was coming to Gibraltar. Everyone was looking forward to it, as many had experienced the same product in La Linea at the Patagőnĭa restaurant or either of the Patagőnĭca tapas bars.

Unfortunately, its official opening was somewhat veiled in obscurity and considering it has been open since May or even before, there aren’t many people who seem to have heard of its opening or have eaten there, however, it does seem to have its lunchtime regulars.
patagonica

Hacienda Patagőnĭca can be found behind “The Office” at the end of Parliament Lane. Its terrace, that greets you on arrival, is covered in a green astroturf lawn. There are approximately 10 tables, all with vivid red, yellow or green watering cans holding steak knives and forks, as well as, decorating window sills surrounding the terrace. A redundant staircase that leads nowhere sits on the back wall. There are fewer tables inside with the decor leaning more towards Frida Kahlo’s mexican terracotta, however, the result is friendly, comforting and homely.

The menu, a meat lover’s delight.

I would recommend always starting your meal with a spicy meat empanadilla and a provolone grilled cheese (provoleta) to share, maybe even ordering this with your drinks order to expedite matters should you need to get back to your desk.

For the uninitiated into the world of Argentinean grills, I suggest ordering a Patagonia Grill (Parrillada Patagonia); a mouth-watering, tantalising platter of various cuts of meat including beef tenderloin, veal ribs, skirt, entrecote, black pudding and Creole sausage seasoned to perfection. Order it to be cooked medium rare (a su punto) as you can always have it cooked more should you wish. Please note, this is a feast for four people – 6 could eat comfortably from this portion, especially if you’ve had the empanadilla and provolone.

parrillada-patagonica

Photo taken from Samuel Stocker/Facebook

If you are of a squeamish disposition or vegetarian, turn away now…

…I prefer my meat cooked rare and swimming in bloody meat juices, I then take the baked potato and mash it into this glorious puddle #foodporn.

Once you’ve tried the different cuts of meat the Parrillada has to offer, you can then decide how you wish to proceed the next time you go – because there will be a next time – would you order the same mixed platter or select a specific cut of meat to feast on? I always order the ubiquitous Argentinean empanadilla and grilled cheese followed by specific dishes so as to get a larger portion of my favourite cuts drizzled with chimichurri.


If you are a vegetarian, I doubt that this would have been your first choice of restaurant but there are a few veggie options such as: roasted peppers, stuffed aubergines/mushrooms/courgettes, fried provolone triangles, Swiss potatoes, baked potatoes, as well as, provolone grilled cheese (provoleta) and a mixed salad, which are also delicious – or so I have been told.

watering-cans
Having been there on several occasions, I have found that service always seems to be better at lunchtime. On busier summer evenings, service can sometimes be erratic or slow. I can only put this inconsistency down to the fact that management have been unprepared for events such as Summer Nights. Admittedly, our waiter was very apologetic for not being able to give us a better service and offered us a drink on the house to make up for it.
Frustratingly, even with its redundant staircase, there is no access from Line Wall Road to Hacienda Patagőnĭca. People have to make their way round Chatham Counterguard probably stopping at one of the establishments along the way.

Nevertheless, as smoke billows up from its wood fired grill, peppering the air with delicious meat smells, its chimney acts as a beacon to hungry stomachs throughout the town, making Hacienda Patagőnĭca a great place for a quick or leisurely lunch and evening meal in the centre of town.

Meat sweats imminent…

as published on www.yourgibraltartv.com on 7th September 2016

“Wagamama, Gibraltar was faring the best across Europe!”  Rumoured the naughty child.

And after shifting 1 month’s worth of duck and beer in 3 days I can see why!

Wagamama_logo (2)

When I first came across Wagamama in London in the late 90’s, I nostalgically remember it as the perfect antidote to a night of student revelling London-style (stylie).  We’d wake up and trundle down to the nearest Wagamamas and cluster around their long tables and immediately get a vitamin boost from their super green, super fresh, body cleansing, high antioxidant smoothies followed by a bowl of something spicy with plenty of carbs – if my mind goes that far back, I think my dish of choice was always a Pad Thai.  It would beat going to Maccy-Ds any day!

Flash-forward over 20 years and in June 2016, after a social media frenzy of freebie tickets, £5 sittings and press evenings, we are treated to our very own Wagamama here in Gibraltar.  With the stunning setting that Ocean Village provides, Wagamama, with its roots in Japanese-inspired cuisine, fits right in amongst the palm trees and ferns that line the promenade.

long tablesUpon arrival everything seems to be at one with nature –chairs are large wooden blocks with simple metal legs, rattan chairs out on the terrace; long wooden-topped tables (ideal for families) presented in a minimalist Japanese canteen style with spotlights aimed along the centre of these.   Fully opening glass doors bringing the sea into the room.  The 3 large mirrors at the back of the room creating  a sense of depth, reflecting images of staff whizzing from station to table.  And last but not least, its vast open kitchen and prep area with its denizen of chefs glancing from screens to chopping boards to woks to plates.

The menu is not organised as ‘starters and mains’ but as: Sides – to order with your main dish or to share; Gyoza – either steamed or fried dumplings filled with goodness; Ramen – a bowl of hot soup filled with noodles; toppings and garnishes; Curry – fresh curries served over rice; Teppanyaki – sizzling soft noodles with crunchy veg/meat/prawns; Omakase – 4 different Chef Specials; Donburi – a big bowl of steamed rice and stir fired meats/veg; Salads -2 stir fry salads and Extras – miso soup, Japanese pickles, ‘century’ egg, kimchee, chillies or rice/noodles.

I found the exemplary waiting staff to be very cheerful and friendly at all times.  Their knowledge of the menu evident as they would translate dish numbers into dish names; scribbling your order onto your placemat.  Before leaving our table, the waiter asked us if we’d been to Wagamama before so as to clarify how our food would arrive.

For the uninitiated: as your dish is created it is served – regardless of whether there are 2, 4 or 6 of you dining; there is no procession of courses.

Fried duck gyoza

fried duck gyoza


Steamed pulled pork gyoza

steamed pulled pork gyoza

We ordered some Gyoza to see how they fared against authentic Japanese gyoza, which are dry-fried on the base and then steamed to perfection.  As the menu advertised either fried or steamed gyoza we tried the fried duck gyoza (99) – delicious, deep decadent duck meat in a deep fried gyoza, however, not what we were expecting.  Preferring a steamed gyoza we ended up stopping the waiter to order some steamed pulled pork gyoza (105) which were much more authentic in flavour and texture and upon reading the menu a second time realising that the steamed gyoza are served grilled!

Omakase – entrust the chefteriyaki lamb

Trying to avoid my Pad Thai Wagamama staple, I decided to let the chef recommend me one of its four Omakase (Japanese for ‘to entrust the chef’).  The grilled Teriyaki lamb served on a bed of soba noodles in a pea and wasabi dressing with grilled asparagus, kale, mushrooms and mangetout – simply scrumptious; grilled teriyaki lamb, grilled veggies, soba noodles.

Since then I’ve been again and had the chilli squid (107) crispy fried squid dusted with shichimi, served with a chilli/coriander dipping sauce – tongue tantalisingly tingly and the pork ramen (30) which even though I slurped my way through, could have been hotter – both in temp and spice, and saltier; however, I suppose that’s why there is soy sauce and chilli oil on every table!

banana katsuAs part of the ‘harmony, balance and chilli’ mantra that Wagamama is legendary for, ending your spicy meal with Banana Katsu (142) – banana covered in panko bread crumbs and deep fried with salted caramel ice-cream equals perfection.  I’ve asked for the mochi balls (124) and the sweet onigiri (135) but unfortunately they still haven’t received them from the Uk.

I suppose that if we are dependent on Uk deliveries for the food to be franchise-exact we will, on occasion, have this wait-time on certain dishes when items expire.  Next time I go I know I’m going to try the prawn itame curry (39) and here’s hoping that they’ve got the pork ribs (97) in stock!

But all is good with the world when you end your meal with jasmine flower tea…

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Little Bay5

Whilst the refurbishment took place through the long drawn out winter months, the team at Little Bay made sure to keep tantalising people with morsels of information about their warming exotic food menu, enticing cocktails and ultra modern decor.  When they finally opened in April 2016 people were intrigued and couldn’t wait to sample Little Bay’s alluring Eastern delights as presented to us through social media.

“Cumin, cardamon and clove.”

I eventually made it down there one Thursday evening in mid-May and the place was buzzing: groups of friends, individuals, couples – of all ages.  I think we may have even been the second or even third sitting that evening!

“Comfortable decadence.”

Little Bay1

Dominating the centre of the restaurant is the heart of Little Bay – its circular bar.  The bar staff shimmering between the glinting glassware and beaten copper water jugs, mixing enticing cocktails.  Guests are encouraged to sit at the bar on plush stone coloured velvet bar stools studded with metal rings hanging off the backs whilst waiting for their tables to be set.  Masala Mules being everyone’s cocktail of choice.

The menu is varied but not extensive; 14 starters and 16 main dishes – a good balance of chicken, lamb, seafood and vegetarian options, as well as the ubiquitous rice dishes, naans and sides.

My menu choices were as follows:

Little Bay2Starter – Chicken 65 (Chilli Chicken)
Marinated pieces of chicken breast, stir fried and tossed in spring onions, chillies and coriander.  This was a very generous starter.  Succulent chicken pieces, fresh zingy ginger coming through the heat of the chillies.  Like popcorn chicken – but grown up; delicious.  With some rice or a naan this could have been a very decent lunch.  I would have liked to have been encouraged by the waiter to have perhaps ordered some raita to go with, not because it needed to be tempered but just as another texture/sensation on the tongue; hot chicken pieces, fridge cold raita.

Main – Keema MattarLittle Bay4
On the menu there is a “Little Bay recommends” next to this dish and I was not disappointed.  Spiced, minced lamb cooked in a tomato and spice infused sauce, freshened up with vibrant green peas. Rich and full of body, this dish was perfectly accompanied by a plain naan and steamed basmati rice.  Any other flavours would have conflicted with the musty-heavy scent of cumin, cardamom and clove.

We decided to forgo dessert as I didn’t really want chocolate cake, carrot cake or pecan pie after a delicious Indian meal.  What happened to the Indian desserts normally served in Indian restaurants?  Mango kulfi? Mango Lassi? Kheer (milky rice pudding)?

Gibraltar desperately needed a proper Indian Restaurant in the leisure areas.  Since Masai Grill, Viceroy and then Laziz shut down, we’ve had to succumb to the Indian takeaway.  Little Bay, which I can’t help but feel, should be called, The Bay Leaf, is a high end Indian Restaurant with high quality food.  A restaurant that wouldn’t be out of place next to London’s The Cinnamon Club or The Red Fort.  Its Directors have worked hard to create an image of comfortable decadence.   Their dynamic team of managers, exciting bar staff and committed waiters making the place buzz with youthful exuberance.

There is an Indian tapas menu which has many dishes from the a la carte menu so that guests may discover the menu, however, I would like to see more “Little Bay recommends” next to different dishes to encourage diners to choose something delicious but unfamiliar.  All tables should be offered a copper pot of poppadums and accompanying chutney whilst diners peruse the menu – we weren’t.

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Masala Mule

I, for one, can’t wait to return.  Promises of exotic spice and Eastern delights did not disappoint.  Next time though, I’d make sure it was in a large group so that I could try lots of different dishes!  And I’d make sure that I tried one of those Masala bad boys!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0010(1)Lunch at The Hendrix was a Purple Haze for me. Psychedelic sweet chilli prawns sat proudly on cubes of cider-marinated pork belly served with a pineapple and lettuce salad followed by a deconstructed banoffee pie with banana parfait, dulce de leche and flambéd banana AND a gorgeous lemongrass and basil infused creamy posset, served with vanilla mascarpone and summer fruits…deliciously dreamy.

At The Hendix, classic combos are given the Ariel Guivi treatment. Under Ariel’s mantra of ‘soul food’ there is plenty to fill your belly and indeed feed the soul. There is a good balance of dishes on the menu to cater for all such as: mushroom linguine served with wild mushrooms collected from the Campo area, homemade burgers; served medium, fire-roasted aubergines drizzled in tahini, beef skirt with chimichurri, warm goats cheese salad, classic fish and chips with homemade tartare sauce served with mushy peas, as well as Ariel’s classic hummus with toasted pine nuts served with warm pitta bread – a dish Ariel created in his days working at a previous local establishment. And for those nights watching the game or those mornings after, there is a plethora of deep fried breaded bar snacks to choose from too.

The food is delicious but there is no mistaking, this is not a restaurant but a pub; a gastropub, with very good food. Ariel is passionate about his menu and the quality of his product which he insists should be fresh such as the wild mushrooms in his linguine (cutting this dish from the menu should he not be able to source these). He is very aware of what he wants to achieve for The Hendrix and is keen to raise the bar of pub grub in Gibraltar. His previous experience under the tutorship of Matt Birtwistle and now as his own boss with his own team are the ingredients to make a successful gastropub of The Hendrix.

The waitresses were very pleasant and provided a very good service with attention to detail. The drinks menu with its cocktails and fancy lemonades sounded as if this might be the sort of place you’d want to sit at on a summer evening, or even after work! Instead of walking past it, pop in. Having read some previous diner reviews, the majority of people would be very happy to return and eat there again. Those that wouldn’t, I’d say give it another go and try something else.

I have to admit, I was originally tempted by Miss Piggy but settled on a Hendrix Purple Haze (same same but different!)

…I guess I’ll just have to visit again!

 

AbdesalemWe all have our memories of The Moroccan Restaurant and its owner, chef, maitre-d, waiter and great Gibraltarian character that was Abdesalam.

Sadly, the surly-comic character that was Abdesalam passed away this week and since hearing of his passing, many turned to social media to pay their respects and proclaim his pinchitos to be “the best in town!”

For those that knew where his establishment was hidden, it was a little jewel tucked away behind the hustle and bustle of Main Street, in humble Turnbull’s Lane.  With only a few tables inside; 6 could sit comfortably, 8 would be a squeeze as no-one wanted to sit infront of the sliding door that unveiled the toilet!

In summer, Abdesalam would set up a couple of tables outside and even though this extended his restaurant he wouldn’t necessarily want the demand.  As Abdesalam’s approach was not that of a multi-tasking chef catering for several tables at a time.  His was a methodical table-by-table approach.  Pre-ordering was an advantage known only to some, otherwise, when you arrived he would take your order and start prepping and cooking especially for you; whoever arrived after you would have to wait until your table’s order was complete!

Not the sort of place to go to in a rush.

When at The Moroccan Restaurant it was like being stuck in a time machine where everything ran on Abdesalam-time – and everyone was the happier for it.

I remember once pre-ordering several pinchitos for a group of 6 of us (approx 30 pinchitos) and a family arrived off a cruiseHeiniken
ship and ordered chicken tagines and cous-cous.  They were on a tight schedule; we were having a leisurely lunch with the endless supply of green Heineken bottles from the self-service fridge!  The more anxious they became, the more thorough he seemed to stoke the BBQ to get the perfect white-hot charcoals to cook on. Thankfully they had been to Gibraltar before and had done all the tourist sites previously!

Several people have recalled Abdesalam’s mantra, “Para gente de familia, no borrachos!” (A family restaurant not for drunkards) and, “Esto es un restaurante, no un bar.” (This is a restaurant not a bar.)  As one of his pet peeves was people sitting at his tables drinking the cold drinks he was chilling for his clients.

pinchitosAbdesalam took great pride in providing you with his taste of Morocco whether it was a tagine (chicken or lamb), pinchitos (beef or chicken), cous-cous or even a simple tomato and onion salad.  He would tell me that the reason why his beef pinchitos were the best was because he would buy good quality beef (carne de calidad amigo!) and then meticulously trim off the excess fat before marinating in his ‘secret’ spice rub.

Not to everyone’s tastes; the decor with its chintzy relics of Morocco, dusty souvenirs of the red fez, babouche slippers and mint teapot variety adorning the cobwebbed shelves above the bar, the sliding door for the toilet that hung on a hinge and the service that ran on Abdeslam-time but I liked it, as did many.

I am sad to say that I will miss being sat outside on Turnbull’s Lane with a green bottle in my hand, watching Abdeslam stood in the archway to The Moroccan Restaurant,  fanning the flames of his pinchito bbq with his raffia fan, wafting the smoke over in my direction as if sat around a tuareg campfire in the Sahara, salivating at the smell of meat caramelising on hot coals…

Gastrorob

My article as it appeared in Calentita! press.

There is always a buzz of excitement and anticipation at El Capote’s food and wine evenings.  The regulars know the format of the evening, but it is always great to hear Ian remind us all (as if we need validation) that it is an evening of, “Great food, great wine and great company!”

Chef Lede, a very talented chef who uses techniques in molecular gastronomy made famous by chefs such as Ferran Adrià at elBulli and Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck, creates tantalising and imaginative dishes that play with your mind and leave you wanting more.  Each dish a work of gastronomic art – 30 identical looking covers per course is no mean feat when catering for a group of people let alone when presenting a 13 course menú degustación!

13 courses X 30 covers = 390 dishes

But for me it’s not just about the taste; it’s the theatrical performance that Lede with his assistants execute for us as they plate up; it is delicious to watch!

“Great Food, Great Wine, Great Company”

The 13 course taster menu comprised three sections all involving seasonal produce with most of the key ingredients sourced from the Campo Area.

The Menu

  • Ajoblanco de Naranja
  • Naranja-Bacon
  • Esferas de payoyo con tostas de hierbas y polvo de ibérico
  • Bollo de huevo con jamón ibérico de bellota

Snack marino

  • Flash cooking de gamba blanca de huelva con yuzu y sesamo
  • Carabinero con especias en su fondo marino con huevas de su americana
  • Papas con choco: Raviolis de Wonton rellenos de guiso de choco, crema de patata, caviar de guisantes y aire de mar

Snack terrestre

  • Falso tomate de Foie, garrapiñados y reducción de Pedro Ximenez
  • Steak tartare de solomillo de ternera con anguilas ahumadas y nieve de Foie
  • Homenaje al cerdo ibérico (3 dishes): Carrilleras con panceta de cerdo, caldo texturizado de jamón, migas y chicharrones aéreos
  • Sopa fria de chocolate blanco, frutos rojas y granizado de mora

Where I would normally go through the menu and describe each dish, there were far to many to describe in detail – however, I have been informed by Ian that Chef Lede is going to be repeating the menu with one major change: At the Christmas Special we were treated to different Sherrys to match the food.  Not everyone’s favourite tipple!  This meant that we couldn’t quaff throughout the meals but more especially the intermissions.  So wines will be available for those of you interested in going.

My favourites were: the Bollo de huevo con jamón ibérico de bellota, Carabinero con especias en su fondo marino con huevas de su americana and el Homenaje al cerdo ibérico (3 dishes): Carrilleras con panceta de cerdo, caldo texturizado de jamón, migas y chicharrones aéreos.

In future – if I were to have the Homenaje al cerdo ibérico – I think it would be more effective to have the three constituent parts on the same plate to truly appreciate the deconstructive nature of molecular gastronomy. However I am aware of of kitchen constraints and why this was executed as so.

If anyone is tempted by any of these dishes, or if the thought of having a test tube shot appeals to you, then I recommend you get yourself down to El Capote when they next advertise as they tend to fill up places fast!

When it comes to food, Gibraltar should be very proud of herself.  Not only do we have a celebratory food festival “Calentita” in June where we celebrate food from the different backgrounds that make up our unique heritage but now we can add Rock Chef to our food culture.

“Passion for food, fierce competition, a unique challenge, fun and a race against time: Just some of the ingredients for ROCK CHEF”

Is the Facebook information given about the competition.  The most important fact though is not included and that is that this is a competition for amateur cooks.  So after weaning out those that have had professional experience and then setting a level for the competition the GFSB picked 12 contestants to appear on the TV show produced by GibMedia.

rockchef

taken from the Facebook page “RockChef” GibMedia (c) 2013

Having then to complete several challenges such as working service at local restaurants, three contestants made it through to the semi-final.

Semi-Final

I was present at the Caleta Hotel for the semi-final and all I can say about the three courses without giving anything away is that we were treated to superior home cooking with one dish in particular delivering aspects of fine dining.  When you watch the dishes on TV you will see what I mean by this.  We then had to decide which course we thought was the best created dish based on creativity, technical ability, how it complimented the overall menu as well as flavour.

“superior home cooking”

The person with the least votes would be eliminated.  We were not informed of the outcome of this; even though we all had our suspicions based on the question and answer session that followed.

IMG_2355Final

The final was held at the Mons-Calpe Suite at the Cable Car Top Station.  May I just say that this venue was incredible.  We arrived around 7pm and the sun was still shining with the surroundings being lit up in gold.  The Mediterranean Sea to one side and the Atlantic Ocean to the other.  A truly magical venue for a finals dinner.

I was invited to attend by Gemma Arias, President of the GFSB, to whom I am eternally grateful.  My luck however, didn’t end there, as I was sat at the centre table surrounded by some of the contestants who had been knocked out in the previous rounds.

“sheer passion for food”

Their company was fantastic!  I marvelled at the anecdotes about the competition itself but ultimately it was their sheer passion for food that impressed me the most.  Listening to them tell the rest of us stories about their home cooking (suckling pig, dishes with height and architecture, chocolate fondants) had me salivating before the cameras started rolling!

2 Menus

So with two finalists cooking their winning 3 course meal for us, how were we going to award the title of Rock Chef?  On this occasion we were not responsible for picking a winner.  A famous celebrity chef was given that daunting task.  And no we were not going to eat 2 x 3 course meals either!  Out of the two menus, we were meant to pick which we wanted to try.  At our table we collaborated and thought we’d share all the courses to get the best impression of who we thought should win.

12 contestants, 3 semi-finalists, 2 finalists, 1 winner!

And the winner is….

So as not to give you any clues as to the finalists and dishes that were created I’ve not included food photos but will upload a photo gallery after the TV series has aired.

Think you’ve got what it takes?  

Why not compete next year for the title of Rock Chef!