EL ARENAL DEL CARMEN
Set in an attractive and very spacious 19th century listed building, the newish ‘El Arenal del Carmen’ restaurant is now starting to slowly but surely take off as the holiday season seeps into view. Set on a mellow street in the historic centre, it’s just a stone’s throw from the La Lonja and near Plaza Negrito so not difficult to find…
The interior is an attractive and original mix of ancient and modern, with very Mediterranean ceramic tiled floors giving a warm and rustic feel to the place. Combine this with the British Red Telephone box displaying classic Gins to go with your Tonics and you know you are in a restaurant that is welcome for English and Spanish speakers alike…
For somewhere that can seat about 100 customers, there are still some interesting nooks and crannies and a sultry terrace out the back too. There is a fisherman cove vibe near the kitchen, with distressed brickwork and plenty of paintings of fishing boats and nets, including one reminiscent of Valencia’s most famous painter, Sorolla.
So, to the food. Our charming maître‘d was David, a young & genial host who really knows his cuisine and very much someone who knows how to put the customers at ease. We decided to let him choose some representative dishes for us to taste. We opted for a ‘Las Campanas de Navarro’ rosé wine on the terraza of this very warm Friday night. It was a superb recommendation, lots of body and character for a a Rosado and it lasted us the whole evening.
For starters, we savoured some very fresh, chopped tomatoes known as ‘Tomate Valenciano’ to go with our artisanal ‘integral’ bread. This was a gentle introduction for the first proper dish of the night, which was a ‘Pulpo Gallega’. This was a very well-cooked Galician Octopus that was filling , crunchy and distinctive. It was prepared ‘Al Sarten’ (By Saucepan), which gives it a fluffy texture. We may add that one of the ‘24/7 Valencia’ team present has a Galician grandmother, so she was qualified to give this one a full thumbs up!
Fresh from the Mercado Central, we savoured some very evenly-cooked anchovies, which are known in Spain as ‘Boquerones’. This was pleasant interlude to the following dish to share, which were fresh mussels famously known as ‘Cloxinas Valencianas’. With a white wine, garlic and lemon sauce this was a surprisingly understated and subtle experience, a very well prepared dish and very agreeable.
The grande finale was a ‘Dorado Al Horno’, which was a Gilthead Bream and David rightly labelled “La Envidia” of the house. Indeed, so attractive was the dish on view that the table opposite immediately inquired with the waiter and ordered the same! It was beautifully tender and tastily combined with the potatoes & tomatoes that accompanied this gentle and wonderfully presented dish. Our overall impression of the restaurant was of cuisine that is tasty but never over-powering.
To finish off the evening, we shared a sexy and filling ‘Tiramisu’ as well as a delightful cheesecake with queso ricotta, almonds and ice cream. It was a refreshing way to end a memorable night. We promised ourselves to invite any visiting relatives to ‘El Arenal del Carmen’ as somewhere authentic and enjoyable to dine out in Valencia. You can’t get a better recommendation than that. This is a restaurant run by people who care about their food and drink, in fine presentation, in quality ingredients and also the joy of savouring authentic Mediterranean cuisine in historic surroundings.
24/7 Valencia team
El Arenal del Carmen
C/ Calatrava, 4
Tel: 96 091657 / 675 674 968
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