Sometimes you just need to go out on a food adventure. I have to credit my girlfriend for really pushing to go out on a night where I was headed for a Doner Kebab and bed. Part of the travel experience is getting out to sample some of the best of a city’s restaurants. We were only going to spend two nights in Valencia and our first night’s dinner was a bit odd to say the least. We got into the city late and on a Spanish holiday to boot. As such, our restaurant options were few and far between. We settled on a pre-fixe menu, hoping to be sated by a house selection of foods, easing our choices. The moderately priced menu came with a bottle of house wine as well, so seemed a decent bet. Fried brie with blueberry sauce was nice, but underwhelming.. a selection of croquettes appetizing. Our starter salad was simply confusing, labeled chicken salad but resembling nothing of the sort. All I can do is list ingredients and let you envision the madness. Lettuce, raisins, cheese, carrots, corn, banana chips, onions, gummy fruits with a few chunks of chicken beneath and topped with a ranch-styled dressing.. B-freaking-zarr.
With such a weird first dining experience, part of me just wanted something safe and satisfying on our second night, a gyro sounded divine. Instead we decided to investigate and find a better option than the night prior. Finding the ‘Canovas’ district was our first success, a winding selection of streets teeming with great restaurant options. We choose Don Bernardo and we choose well.
Our best meal of the trip we said in retrospect, but even as we enjoyed it we knew it was something special. Our friendly waiter spoke no English, but we were 4 days into a Spanish adventure and my elementary Spanish was flowing. He seemed to think so as well, heartily slapping me on the shoulder with each encounter. We choose a crianza from Ribuero del Duero and ordered all food to share. Wine served, with a wonderfully fruity nose, our first appetizer was put forth, fried artichokes with manchego shavings and crispy pork. The wine had opened up by the time our second dish arrived, pumpkin ravioli in a gorgonzola cream sauce. And now it’s acidity was a necessity juxtaposed against the rich pasta dish. Our entree was the best though, sirloin medallions atop root vegetable gratin in a cheesy sauce, topped with fresh peas. We almost didn’t have it in us to order dessert, but how can you turn down friend chocolate croquettes? We couldn’t, we didn’t, we finished them all and by now our wine had dwindled. Our waiter to the rescue, dropping to cordials of sweet sherry, gratis, to go with dessert. An amazing dining experience and a recommendation surely if you’re in Valencia.