For food lovers, the northern Tenerife resort of Puerto de la Cruz is a culinary paradise. Whilst many of the towns restaurants have traditionally served up Canarian cuisine consisting of fresh, but simply grilled meat and fish dishes, in the last few years a new spate of more contemporary restaurants have opened. These stylish new establishments use fresh local ingredients, but fuse traditional and Mediterranean cuisine with a more innovative style of cooking.
Many of these chic new restaurants are to be found in the narrow pedestrianised streets of La Ranilla, Puerto’s fishing district, a short walk from the heart of the old town at Plaza del Charco. With a mix of modern and traditional Canarian eateries, travel guidebook favourites like El Regulo and even a vegetarian restaurant, standards in the Ranilla district are so high and restaurant interiors so seductively inviting looking that deciding on which one to dine at is a difficult task. However, one restaurant which is guaranteed to come up with the culinary goods is Mil Sabores.
The Menu at Mil Sabores
Mil Sabores’ menu identifies it as offering Mediterranean cooking, but in truth dishes are so diverse and imaginative that they defy being pigeon-holed. It is simply creative cooking at its best.
Located inside an old town house, the restaurant’s décor sets the scene for a memorable meal; subdued lighting, polished wooden mezzanine area, apple coloured walls broken up by quirky framed champagne flutes, saucers and knives and forks creates a warm atmospheric blend of old and new. Tables are arranged around the lower courtyard and on the stepped mezzanine. There are a few tables in the narrow paseo outside which are ideal for people watching and having a nosy at what diners in the other chic restaurants opposite are eating. Needless to say the exterior tables fill up first.
Mil Sabores’ menu is a revelation. The dishes on it sound so taste bud teasing that it’s a nightmare trying to pick what to eat. Starters include sliced sole and prawns with tomatoes and mozarella in a pesto sauce and smoked salmon with fresh vegetables drizzled with honey. It’s almost impossible to choose between main courses such as Atlantic fish in a lobster and pernod sauce with fresh tagliatelle, king prawns in a champagne sauce, or medallions of beef in a Madeira sauce flavoured with black truffles. The menu also features a good range of vegetarian dishes, so non-meat eaters are well catered for; something that isn’t always the case in restaurants in Spain.
The way that dishes are described on the menu raises expectations through the ceiling, thankfully the food in Mil Sabores looks and tastes as divine as it sounds. Meat dishes are melt in the mouth tender and fish, moist and full of flavour.
Desserts are also exceptional and people with poor decision making skills can always opt for a selection of all the restaurant’s desserts. However, serious dessert lovers should ignore everything else and go straight for the chocolate profiteroles. These are simply heaven on a plate.
Everything about Mil Sabores rates highly. Service is friendly and quietly efficient without being overly fussy and diners are left to enjoy their meals at whatever pace they like. Even the bathrooms are impressively stylish. At around €120 for four people including wine, prices are slightly higher than is average in Puerto de la Cruz, but considering the standard, in real terms eating at Mil Sabores represents exceptional value for money.
Mil Sabores opens daily from 6.30-11.30pm, closed Sunday
Quality costs money. Healthy food costs more than highly processed food. Organic vegetables cost more than pesticide-laced products from over worked fields. Grain-fed beef is tastier and healthier than beef fed with by-products and antibiotics.
For restaurants to offer high quality ingredients, owners invest capital in supplies. Made to order restaurants offering fresh and sometimes gourmet foods have higher costs.
Made to Order
Chain restaurants such as Applebee’s and Friendly’s keep a supply of frozen menu items in the kitchen. When ordered, the frozen food is “prepared” sometimes by simply heating in a microwave and adding finishing touches.
In a made to order restaurant, fresh, raw food is cooked and prepared after it has been ordered. Hamburgers to filet mignon can be served rare, and dishes can be prepared with the garlic (for example) because everything was not cooked ahead of time.
Romantic Restaurants and Ambience
Eating out is more than basic sustenance; it is an experience. Men who wish to impress a special woman take her to a fine restaurant, not to McDonald’s.
Successful, fine dining restaurants have thought of everything. One I visited recently even used slate as plates, which made very unique, unusual restaurant plates. They also have guides on their website on what to consider when choosing restaurant dinnerware: slateplate. The comfort of the chairs in the dining room, the quiet level of instrumental music, and the low lights making the candles on each individual table seem that much brighter.
Time, care, and professionalism go into making everything about a good restaurant just right. The experience itself make the higher price tag worthwhile.
Fresh Foods are Healthy Foods
Fresh foods retain more of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that keep eaters healthy. As fruits and vegetables sit in the refrigerator, they slowly lose their food value. A well-run restaurant is challenged to buy just enough food to sell until the next order.
Foods that are overcooked and/or cooked-then-frozen retain less food value than fresh foods. Fresh foods also taste so much better than their processed counterparts.
Hidden Costs of Fresh Foods
Fresh foods cost more money, and fresh foods can spoil. Spoilage is, unfortunately, a hidden cost of running a good restaurant. If an owner purchases 5 pounds of beef but only sells 4 pounds, and throws away 1 pound of beef because everybody ordered chicken that week, the restaurant does have to recoup the cost.
Chefs, Cooks, and Restaurant Staff Need to be Paid
It takes skill, care, and a high level of organization to start with raw ingredients and create a gourmet meal every time. It also takes more time to cook a meal and prepare food well than to defrost frozen appetizers and entrees. Chefs and cooks in good restaurants do this in a high pressure environment with orders coming in much faster than the food can realistically cook. These restaurant kitchen employees must remain calm and as deftly as possible turn out a fresh, made to order meal with perfection every time.
The professional chefs and well-trained cooks in fine dining establishments deserve to be paid for the labor and attention to detail. It is reasonable for their wages and salaries to reflect their knowledge and skill level.
Fine dining and gourmet restaurants train their waitstaff to provide exceptional service to customers. On average (in the 50 states) restaurant servers earn about $3 per hour. They depend upon tips and gratuities to make a living.
Tips are usually calculated as a percentage of the bill. In a good restaurant, the server is giving more of her time and effort to the customers than the server in a greasy spoon or diner is required to do. For fine service in a fine restaurant, it is unthinkable to tip less than 20%. The meal, the experience, and the ambience make the cost of the bill and the tip worth it. Expensive restaurants are definitely worth their price tags.
I have been darkening the doorway at Papa’s Pier 17 for nearly a decade, beginning in the autumn of 2015 when I began my undergraduate studies here in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Since then I have been using Papa’s Pier 17 (and more recently, Get Stuffed on Duckworth) as my go-to first date restaurant.
Atmosphere, Ambiance, and Character Set Papa’s Pier 17 Apart – Christmas Cheer at Papa’s Pier!
Papa’s Pier 17 in Churchill Square is a quaint little restaurant that’s large on character. The dining room walls are lined with full length mirrors as well as hanging lights that, seen in the mirrors, seem to stretch on forever. The lighting is generally dim during the evening hours, with candles placed on the crisp white tablecloths. A new dining room addition has been added on to the immediate right of the entrance, however I strongly recommend a seating arrangement in the original dining area.
During the Christmas holidays – for most of December – Papa’s decorates the store with aplomb, placing Santa Clause in the window box as well as many wintertime scenes. A train set is places on either end of the ceiling running along the dining room walls, and the mechanical conductor runs along the lines all evening long. The decorations and soft music bring a great deal of peace and cheer to both the staff as well as the patrons who flock to the restaurant during the Christmas season. The management of the restaurant seem to have remembered the secret to success in the hospitality – always make your guests feel cheerful and at home.
Service at Papa’s Pier 17 is typically pleasant, professional, and brisk – though there may be some wait during the beginning and end of the school year. Waiters and waitresses wear white collared shirts or blouses as well as matching pants and skirts. Complimentary garlic bread with Parmesan is offered to the dining party previous to the appetizers and entrees. In my experience, the decor and ambiance offer a perfect hybrid between comfortable casual and fine dining.
Greek Food and Desserts, Seafood, and More at an Inexpensive Price
Papa’s Pier 17 has been known for some time as having a reputation for having excellent Greek dishes including popular options such as souvlaki, kebabs, and the extremely impressive baklava. Other delicious and popular choices include their specially spiced ribs and seafood menu.
Portions are typically quite generous, and inexpensive in comparison to truly formal affairs. Papa’s caters to a loyal customer base and generates much of its patronage from repeat visitors – the cost is kept affordable accordingly.
In over a dozen visits to Papa’s Pier 17 in the past few years, I have always enjoyed a relaxing and enjoyable environment over a delicious meal and a crisp glass of white wine. The experience comes highly recommended – particularly during the holiday season!
Like many of Tenerife’s most alluring restaurants, El Monasterio doesn’t lie within the boundaries of a tourist resort, it’s located on La Montañeta del Fraile in the municipality of Los Releajos. Luckily it’s only a short taxi ride from the north of Tenerife’s most popular holiday resort, Puerto de la Cruz.
The History of El Monasterio
Not actually a monastery at all, the volcanic cone on which the restaurant sits got its name thanks to a Dominican monk named Fray Antonio.
In 1788 Antonio wanted to build a shrine on La Montañeta de la Luz. To raise the money to do so he travelled around valley on a mule asking parishioners for donations of wine and goats, building up a well stocked bodega and a decent goat herd in the process. Over time he sold the wine for a healthy profit and was able to build a finca and a small chapel.
When he died in 1811, the volcanic cone was re-named La Montañeta del Fraile in his honour.
Nowadays, the finca has been transformed into a series of five restaurants based around a monastic theme and set in 100,000 square metres of gardens. But the religious association hasn’t totally been given over to simply pleasing the stomach. A small ermita still sits on the cone’s summit and every 3rd May locals make the steep walk to its little plaza to celebrate the Fiesta of the Cross.
El Monasterio Restaurants
Much more than a dining experience, any visit to El Monasterio (mesonelmonasterio.es) should include a thorough exploration of its grounds and intriguing nooks and crannies
The first sight that greets diners as they enter the grounds is the Hacienda San Pedro, a grandiose building that looks straight out of a Zorro movie and is a restaurant serving traditional Canarian cuisine of grilled meat and fish dishes.
From there the path gently winds upwards through the gardens passing wine barrels, a wine press and rustic and religious artifacts to the fondue restaurant, a low whitewashed building whose eaves are decorated with strings of dried chillies and corn on the cob. All around shocking pink bougainvillea tumbles across terracotta coloured Arabic tiles. Paths lead beyond tables covered in huge bright yellow gourds to two more restaurants serving traditional Spanish cuisine and a vaulted convent used for functions and weddings. El Monasterio bakes its own bread, which is sold in outlets in Puerto de la Cruz on the coast below, and the aroma of freshly baked bread combined with sheer beauty of this immaculately renovated setting is a pleasurable assault on the senses.
The last building on the path is the Mirador restaurant whose floor to ceiling glass windows may prove too much for vertigo sufferers as it sits right on the edge of the hill. This is the place to come for the most decadent item on any of El Monasterio’s menus; the champagne breakfast. For less than €15 diners can indulge themselves with a feast of fresh breads, pastries, bacon and eggs or salmon, accompanied by aromatic fresh coffees, gland tingling fruit juices and of course cava.
After such an indulgence the gardens provide a romantic setting to walk off the calories and paths weave through cacti, palm fronds geraniums and hanging ferns to duck ponds a small paddock with horses and peacocks.
It seems quite appropriate that an ermita built two centuries ago from earnings made from selling wine and goat meat should still be a shrine dedicated to good food and fine wine.