TBN – The hidden gem of San Agustin

Travelling all around the world I was always amazed about how bad the majority of the restaurants are in touristic areas. From Cuba to Cote d’Azur or Naples, from Malaga or Greek Islands to Caribbean, the ghost of a waiter clutching a laminated menu with horrible photos translated in 5 languages and beckoning you in from the doorway, inviting you to discover a hell of local cuisine was haunting my worst holiday nightmare. And Gran Canaria has its own place on the list; despite of the fact that Canary Island cuisine is famous for its unique blend of flavours influenced by the cuisines of Africa, Europe and America – a one-of-a-kind combination of freshness and flavour, the all-inclusive ghetto in Playa del Ingles attracted the invasion restaurants with laminated photo descriptive menus where the freshness, variety, simplicity, and the richness of local food is substituted by couple of drops of Mojo picón lost on a bunch of distant relatives of the real Papas arrugadas.

 

Restaurants, in Yumbo Center for example, which welcome many tourists each day are bound to take many short-cuts including with the quality of the produce they serve. In their defence, they’re trying to appeal to guests who are coming from all-inclusive resorts and may not have an adventurous palate looking for a cheap meal, as a “one off treat” during their holiday. During my recent trip to San Agustin I got, once again, the confirmation for my “tourist trap” theory: flashy menu and neon signs are always warning signs. The larger the sign, the further away you want to be from these places. Great restaurants serving great cuisine do not need a lot of advertising. Their story is shared through word of mouth.

 

Despite the fact that the food in Melia Tamarindos was great for every meal, one night I decided to try something different. Jiske Jager, the Guest Experience Manager of the hotel, suggested a local a la carte restaurant “TARA BY NIGHT”. And I said YES! Normally I don’t fall for this type of suggestions, looking for places where the locals eat and avoiding hotel’s restaurant. This time I had 100% trust in Jiske, just because after 5 days in Melia Tamarindos I realised that the hotel rejects the approach of large resort chains that don’t treat their settings as unique, but rather as a sort of generic tropical paradise that thru sun, sand and a sense of abundance amid poverty can convey a feeling of entitlement and luxury to their clientele.

 

And the evening spent in “Tara By Night” was one of the best experience of this holiday.

First of all the location is fantastic and the entire business model is great. The venue is located at the end of the hotel’s grounds, with excellent view of the ocean. Interesting is that, the location is extremely and intelligent versatile: in the morning the breakfast for the top end accommodation (“The Level”) is provided here in a quiet and peaceful manner, during the day the place is an excellent spot for light lunch or a snack close to your sunbed and in the late at night a charming cocktail bar with live music takes control. In the evening the space changes with 180 degrees creating a elegant intimate venue, perfect place for a romantic sophisticated dinner – “TARA BY NIGHT”

 

From the very first moment we were guided by the knowledgeable and friendly  Suanel, who helped navigate us through the plethora of dishes on offer and provided some excellent recommendations that would best be suited to our individual tastes. Just seconds after we were accompanied to our table and the menus started to be under our scrutiny, a delicious “amuse bouche” landed elegant on our table, whilst from somewhere close a warm live jazz music was invading the restaurant.

 

The menu offered a decent selection of Mediterranean and Canarian fusion cuisine, large enough to satisfy any taste, but small enough to guaranty the high quality of the food. From detailed descriptions to authentic-sounding foreign names, restaurateurs have many ways to persuade diners into ordering high-profit meals. At “Tara by Night” they have let the ingredients speak for themselves, in a simple list, with evocative descriptions, subliminal labels directing guest’s attention towards a feature in the dish, and hence helps bring out certain flavours and textures.

 

First choice: the wine. The list? A quite decent one, with local and international options but not in a number which will direct you to a cheap wholesale source. Our choice was Manto Malvasia Volcanica Seco, a wine from Lanzarote, very bright, clean and unctuous with attractive pale-yellow colour. The charming waitress assist us to notice the aromas of abundant fresh and ripe tropical, among which the hints of pineapple and passion fruit mix with very nice notes of peach and citrus.  Served by the book, the wine, on cork and when it opens up, displayed an intense floral aromas.IMG_1319

For the starters we decided to go on both land and sea.

My Micuit of duck was earthy and elegant, melting slowly and invading the palate with an aroma and flavour that’s gracefully soothing, supple and rich, with a lingering and delicate toasted-nut aftertaste. The creamy lentils and the gel of Indian tuna created perfect companions for the rich flavour of the Micuit, while the local touch was added by the strong cured Canary goat cheese Valsequillo

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Micuit of duck, creamy lentils, flowers of Valsequillo cheese and gel of Indian tuna

The other choice for the evening was grilled octopus grunt, caramelised iron pineapple on coconut. The result of this interesting eclectic combination: tons of flavour, great texture and tenderness. The sweet and savoury caramelised iron pineapple compliment perfectly the octopus while the coconut gave this dish a necessary creamy element that brought all the flavours together

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Grilled octopus grunt, caramelised iron pineapple on coconut

For the main course we decided to challenge Manu, the TBN’s chef and ordered: Turbot on May fire roast tomato, green Mojo rock and papaya compote and Roasted retinto sirloin with garden herbs and a red wine reduction.

The fish was cooked to perfection: the large flakes had a really nice medium-firm texture and smooth, sweet taste. The roasted tomato (with a light smoke flavour) and sweet papaya complement in a very elegant way the taste of the fish. Very interesting was the green Mojo rocks added to the dish: the intense colour and strong coriander flavour plus the mild spicy taste was an notable feature on the plate

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Turbot on May fire roast tomato, green Mojo rock and papaya compote

The meat was indeed the “pièce de résistance” of the dinner. The Retinta is one of the three pure breeds of cattle native to Spain and high quality llana (sirloin) was perfect roasted. I always go for a rare option and in “Tara by Night” they know how to make a juicy, tender and delicious rare roasted sirloin. Was a divine gastronomic experience to discover in each piece of meat a light smoky flavour, a bit earthy like a mushroom with a different texture, with a tenderness that melts in your mouth.  The wine reduction was simple and flavourful contrasting nicely with the pieces of crispy Polenta as garden herbs as sides. What a celebration of delicate flavours!

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Roasted retinto sirloin with garden herbs and a red wine reduction.

By the time when we reach the dessert we were overwhelmed by the service style and the high standards of the dinner, so, the final option was initially a Barraquito (served in a slightly large glass and containing coffee, regular milk, condensed milk and a syrupy liqueur called “Cuarenta y Tres”) or a simple Carajillo (a small black coffee, topped up with a dash of brandy). But our waitress persuaded me, quite easily, for the chef’s special: Apple Tatin with Ceylon vanilla ice-cream. A winner, not only because it’s offer of opulent harmony of flavours and the creative plating , but the idea of having a crispy base for the Tatin. How we managed to round off the meal with the incredibly tasty and chilled pudding, is beyond me. But it was definitely worth it.

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Apple Tatin with Ceylon vanilla ice-cream

I thoroughly enjoyed our immense culinary journey at “TBN” which offers exquisite dishes, a wonderful wine selection, a warm ambience and outstanding, friendly service The bespoke menu, the charming ambience and high standards of the service make “Tara by Night” a gastronomic “go to”  destination in the area and anyone needs to make some time to discover one night this hidden gem of San Agustin. And for sure you will come back…I will!

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Manu – TNB’s Chef

Where & How?

Starters range from €8 – €18

Main course range from  €18 – €26

Deserts from €5 – €6.50

To make a reservation at Tara by Night – Telephone: +34 912 76 47 47

Tara by Night is located at Melia Tamarindos Hotel&Resort, Calle las Retamas, 3, 35100 Playa de San Agustín, Las Palmas, Spain and is open seven days a week, from 7pm to 11pm

 

https://www.facebook.com/TBN-Restaurant-614221025399049/

 

 

~ by leonard69 on October 18, 2017.

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