It’s not often that I’m compelled to find out what the background music is in restaurants on Tenerife, but the jazzy riffs with a hint of Andalusian rhythms providing the audio backdrop to the Sabor Español Tasca & Restaurant at the Barcélo Santiago Hotel were really rather cool.

“It’s a mix of modern Flamenco and Chill Out,” Elvi (Elvis without the ‘s” as she described her name), our delightful and knowledgeable waitress, told us. That explained the hint of Andalusian rhythms then.

Sabor Español’s stylishly subdued lighting, dark wooden tables and chairs with blood red cushions combined with music I’d happily chill out to at home exuded sleek sophistication. The ingredients ticked all the right boxes in creating an ambience that promised an enjoyable dining experience. The restaurant looked and felt sensuous, intimate and a good choice for a romantic dinner for two, a group of friends”¦or even the local taxi drivers’ Christmas shindig for that matter; all of whom made up the other diners on the evening we were there.

The Flavours of Sabor Español
The menu, a fusion of Spanish and international cuisine, was concise; usually a good sign. With around half a dozen starters, half a dozen meat and fish dishes and a few rice dishes, including a couple of vegetarian options, there was sufficient variety of choice to keep most palates satisfied. The prices were also incredibly good value with main courses being around €12.
As soon as I opened the menu my eyes locked onto one of main courses like a heat-seeking missile. I had only eaten presa Iberian (wild boar) in chorizo form previously, so the opportunity to try something different really got my juices flowing.

To whet our appetites we nibbled on warm bread accompanied by mojo verde and mojo rojo followed by crunchy chicken and goats’ cheese salad for Andy and marinated smoked salmon salad for me.

Elvi had advised that the presa Iberian was best cooked medium rare and she was right on the mark. The juicy wild boar fillets, looking more like steak than pork, were seared on the outside, pink on the inside and beautifully tender. The flavour was also closer to steak than pork, except stronger with a far more pleasurably unique taste that was exactly to my liking.

To accompany the meal Elvi recommended a bottle of Viñatigo Tinto from Tenerife’s La Guancha area, explaining that, as a full bodied red, it was a suitable partner for the boar. Again she was spot on; the wine’s fruity, peppery flavours were a worthy match for the presa Iberian’s strong personality and a sip of wine after a mouthful of boar intensified the flavours of both.

Whilst I was enjoying my taste-buds’ new found friendship with wild boar, Andy was discovering that her choice, fillet of sole with salted baby squid in a mango and fennel sauce, was equally palate pleasing. The intriguing partnership of mango and fennel created a surprisingly subtle and light sauce which combined wonderfully with the crunchy squid and moist flaky sole.

With main course plates wiped as clean as though they’d never been graced by food and with stomach space rapidly running out, we completed our meal with a selection of small, light postres including white and dark chocolate mousse, coconut sponge and our favourite, strawberry cream in a white chocolate cup.

Just when we thought we couldn’t manage anything else Elvi came up with one final suggestion. As her advice had been faultless all evening, her recommendation of a chilled concoction to aid digestion, specially made from a mix of herbs and spices, seemed reasonable. It was only when I asked afterwards I discovered the concoction was that acquired taste known as Jägermeister.

It was my second “˜first’ of the evening. I’ll definitely be trying the wild boar again; however, the Jägermeister I can live without”¦even if Elvi was actually right about it aiding digestion.

Tenerife magazine’s five star rating for Sabor Español
Décor ““ 4 stars. Sensuous, stylish and sophisticated with a relaxing ambience that is ideal for a romantic liaison.
Menu ““ 4 stars. A small but varied menu which combines crowd pleasers with some original creations.
Food ““ 3.5 stars. Main courses were inventive and cooked perfectly. Starters weren’t quite as imaginative.
Service ““ 5 stars. The staff were professional and friendly, especially Elvi who was simply delightful. It felt as though we were being served by a friend, albeit a very knowledgeable and professional one.

Where, when and how
Inside the Hotel Barceló Santiago , La Hondura 8, Puerto Santiago; open 19.00-23.00; reservations (0034) 922 86 09 12.
Starters average €6, main courses average €12. There is also a discount for hotel guests.