Puerto de la Cruz boasts many attractions for visitors to Tenerife, from the must-see Loro Parque to the ultra chic swimming pools of Lago Martiánez and from traditional restaurants in cobbled streets to the cultivated jungle of the Botanical Gardens, or in this case, the traditional restaurant right opposite the Botanical Gardens ““ La Bellotina Tasca.

Ensconced in a covered courtyard fronted by ornate wrought iron gates that emulate the imposing entrance to the gardens across the road, La Bellotina is a romantic little restaurant tucked away behind the main road at the edge of the La Paz district. A handful of tables for two sit out front on the little terrace with views over the towering palms of the Botanical Gardens.

Inside the gates, a small covered courtyard is softly lit by wall lanterns which create an orange glow over the exquisite terracotta tiled floor and the wrought iron tables and chairs. Set into a wall recess, a beautiful mosaic fountain adds a touch of feng shui to the mirrors, trompe l’oeil flower murals and wall pots brimming with blooms to create an intimate and romantic hidden garden.

The Main attraction, The Menu at La Bellotina Tasca
One glance at the menu and you know the chef has travelled beyond these shores. Originally from La Palma and honing his craft in Madrid, the chef combines Spanish speciality ingredients with traditional Canarian dishes and adds his own touches to come up with a menu that is both varied and fresh.

As if the menu wasn’t already difficult enough to chose from, a long list of the day’s specials threw a dessert spoonful of indecision to the dithering that was already on the table. Finally we plumped for starters of Croquetas Caseras de Jamón Ibérico (home made Iberan ham croquettes) and Crujientes de Morcilla de Burgos (crunchy black pudding from Burgos) followed by Ración de Cochinillo Asado la Horno ““ estilo Segovia (baked leg of pork cooked Segovian style) and Solomillo Bellotina (the house special fillet steak).

There was just enough time to uncork the red and take in our surroundings before the starters arrived, nicely presented on white dishes with a small side serving of thin strips of fried potatoes. The croquetas de Jamón Ibérico were delicious; a light, crispy coating giving way to succulent cured ham in creamy potato. The crujientes de morcilla de Burgos were a little too ‘crujiente‘ for my liking and had lost some of the taste of the black pudding as a result. Ironically the fried potatoes were less crispy than they could have been.

Starters despatched, the main courses arrived. The fillet steak was tender, juicy and flavoursome, topped with oyster mushrooms and set in a bed of rich gravy with a selection of vegetables and a handful of chips. The crispy outer skin of the cochinillo asado concealed a succulent leg of tender pork, flavoursome and cooked to perfection so the meat melted in the mouth. Accompanied by a selection of vegetables and scallop potatoes, it took some time to finish every last scrap.

For dessert we ordered the Milhoja de Crema Pastelera y Nata (flaky pastry with vanilla custard and cream). The lightest of flaky pastry slices layered with smooth custard cream and a ball of fresh cream and sprinkled with icing, lay on a bed of chocolate sauce like a pastry butterfly on a chocolate petal. We cracked the pastry with our spoons, gathered it up with some vanilla and cream and made silly mmmmm noises as it melted in our mouths.

La Bellotina Tasca Summary
With so many traditional Canarian restaurants in Puerto, it’s good to experience a menu that incorporates some of the best of Spanish mainland specialities and La Bellotina does that beautifully. It’s a wonderful location and a friendly little spot for a casual lunch, an everyday dinner or a special occasion. At the end of the meal it was very difficult to pull ourselves away and we could easily have lingered longer over coffee listening to the tinkle of the fountain and watching the silhouettes of the palm trees wafting against the night sky.

Tenerife Magazine’s five star rating for La Bellotina Tasca
Décor ““ 4 stars. A romantic courtyard setting with rustic décor and trompe l’oeil murals which bring the gardens of Puerto to traditional tasca style.
Menu ““ 4 stars. A wide choice of starters includes lots of speciality tapas, a good selection of substantial salads and tasty tostas. Main courses are geared more towards meat eaters with emphasis on Spanish pork and lamb specialities. There are menus del día and daily specials to make life even more difficult for decision phobes.
Food ““ 3.5 stars. A half star dropped in the starters was regained in the main courses and the dessert. Cuts of meat are tender, portions are generous and flavours are intense.
Service ““ 3.5 stars. This is a friendly little restaurant where you’re not hurried between courses and can relax and enjoy the ambience, so much so that we eventually had to ask for the dessert menu.

Where, when and how
Calle Retama, 3, Edificio Retama, La Paz (opposite Botanico Gardens), Puerto de la Cruz; +34 922 38 63 95; open Tues ““ Sat 11.30am to 11.30pm, Sunday 11.30 ““ 3.30pm, closed Monday; www.tascalabellotina.com
Starters average €8-€9, tapas average €4, main courses average €14-€15 and desserts average €3.90

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