Thank goodness for Colmado LaLola, a great new tapas and wine bar by the management of Restaurant LaLola just around the corner. Let’s take a look at the venue first, it’s a smallish space up a couple of steps at the foot of El Miguelete, the bell tower of Valencia’s beautiful cathedral. A tall bar and stools are down the left hand side backed by shelves bearing the wines and products they sell (more on this later). To your right is a long, Manises- style ceramic tiled bench with little round tables and low stools along it, and more in the space between.

There’s a chiller cabinet full of cheeses and smoked fish and a small bar leading off to an open kitchen. To the left of the chiller is a table with two hams on stands, ready for cutting, and behind all that, against a lovely, graphics-covered red wall showing today’s specials is another chiller… this one covered in ice and fresh seafood and fish.

We were given a warm welcome by the George Clooney-lookalike waiter who immediately poured us a glass of ‘Las Ocho (8) Bobal’, a D.O. Pago Chozas Carrascal wine from Utiel- Requena. The number 8 refers to the eight grape varieties (Bobal, Monastrell, Garnacha, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot) blended to make this wine. It’s a very nice, fruity wine. This was rapidly followed by some expertly cut (we watched) jamón ham.

Whilst we ate the wonderful ham, ‘George’ prepared a couple of Valencian oysters for us – they also serve Galician oysters (both varieties, 2.90€ each ) – while his colleague prepared a plate of cigalitas (langoustines or cray fish) in the galley kitchen served with fried ajo tierno (young garlic) (10€). The oysters were fresh as fresh as were the langoustines, which were sweet and delicious.

Jesús, LaLola’s owner, arrived at this point and took me on a mini-tour of Colmado. “Everything you eat in here you can buy to take away”, he said – the shelves are lined with bottled and canned vegetables and seafood.

There are jams and conserves, and, of course, the wines: “Where possible, we source from the Comunidad de Valencia, or as close as we can. The wines are priced on the shelves to take away. If you drink them here, we charge a at five euros corkage”. There are beers too, including LaLola’s own label brew. The mini-tour ends at a black & white photo above the bar: “This is my mum and grandma in their ultramarinos shop near Avenida del Puerto. So you see, food runs in the family!”

He left us to eat and promised to return to chat more at the end of our meal and then turned to the bar to make the best-looking sangria I’ve seen outside my own house. Two individual glasses for two ladies at a table of Greek guests, made with great air and a lot of alcohol. We’ll be having one of those next time we go!

Next up was a ‘Tabla de ahumados’ – smoked fish –, a long wooden board with three montaditos of cristal bread (a montadito is a piece of toast or bread with something on top, cristal is bread that has been dried out in a low oven till it is crisp). The three toppings were, smoked herring with tomato creme, smoked salmon with butter and ‘caviar’, and smoked sardine with queso fresco and orange marmalade (the queso fresco was a delicious goat’s cheese from nearby Vall d’Uxó). All three were quite delicious, D reckoned she could spend her days eating the smoked sardine with cheese and marmalade! This tabla is great value at 12€.

Once we’d polished off the montaditos it was on to the Tabla de quesos (cheese board): a Tronchón from Teruel (famous for skiing in the mountains north of Valencia), a hard blue cheese from Vall d’Uxó again (just north of the city and known for its caves), and a manchego from La Mancha, three piles of little wedges all served with sweet conserves(12.50€).

To finish, we had a chocolate buñuelo and leche frita (a buñuelo is a bit like as doughnut ball, and leche frita is a cake made with our dough cooked in milk, cooled, cut into pieces, dipped in our and egg and fried, 2.50€ and 2€) served with a lovely Pedro Ximénez dessert wine. A great finish to a lovely meal.

Jesús’ mum should be very proud of her son, he has a very successful restaurant just around the corner and a great team working with him. His latest venture is already doing really well and deserves to. The menu has a great choice of dishes big and small to choose from and a nice wine list, too. Colmado LaLola is a great place for a drink and tapas or for a great meal.

Tim Birch 

Colmado LaLola 

C/ Bordadores, 10 (in front of Cathedral) Zona Carmen

www.facebook.com/colmadolalola

Open. Monday – Sunday

12:00h – 24.00h

Wines: 2.50€ – 3.00€ (glass), 13€ – 60€ (bottle)

Most dishes: 2.90€ – 12€ (Entrecôte 19€)

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