Can we stop already with the snow now? At first it was fun, and we lived the dream of dog walks in crisp, white, crunchy stuff. Now it’s a pain. And it’s wet, and slushy, and cold. I’m going to remedy the winter blues with another fond foray back to our holiday in Tenerife in December. When we escaped cold Blighty for sunshine, long lazy days on the beach and so much food that I still can’t get rid of the pounds, let alone the extra ones from Christmas.
I’ve already told you about our special treat meal at El Rincon de Juan Carlos but that wasn’t the only great food we had. In fact, I was far more impressed by the food in Tenerife than I thought I’d be. I had kind of assumed it would cater mainly to stereotypical Brits abroad, forcing us to choose between pizza, curry or Chinese each night. And although there were, indeed, all these choices – plus the obligatory fry-up – we managed to find ourselves more than enough Spanish food and local cuisine to keep us busy.
One place we spotted on a few review sites was The Fisherman’s Inn in Puerto de Santiago, a short walk from where we were staying. We scoped it out a few days earlier and realised it has a prime spot with a huge terrace overlooking the pretty little bay. Fairy lights make for that magical, holiday vibe, as well as a slightly ‘off the beaten track’ feel that makes you feel like you’ve found your own special little place.
Unbeknownst to me, when he popped in to book us a table, Mr M had requested the nicest spot, right in the corner overlooking the sea. In style, the Fisherman’s Inn is about as far as you can get from the slick opulence of El Rincon de Juan Carlos, with wicker chairs, simple table settings, and a rustic feel that might seem a bit crap in England but when on holiday just feels authentic. In service, it’s pretty much on a par with its lauded neighbour. The owner is friendly and knowledgeable, jumping at the chance to recommend a local wine and to help the ever-indecisive Ellen with my order.
The menu itself is fairly concise and – as the restaurant name might suggest – fish focused. Jamie opted for garlic prawns for his starter. A rustic, fisherman’s-style dish of fat, juicy prawns in a sauce that had more depth than your average garlic butter and almost a slight curry tinge that worked wonderfully.
I opted for sardines which came on a bed of sweet tomatoes cooked with onions and olives. Literally the taste of the sunshine and the seaside. The perfect light, holiday starter, which is making me salivate as I write these very words.
I had been unable to decide on a main course (nothing new there), so the owner decided for me. I didn’t know until my dish arrived what I would be having but thanks to the menu, was confident that I’d enjoy anything they brought. I ended up with herb-crusted cod – possibly the biggest piece of cod I’ve ever been served. It was perched on top of a bed of mash, with more of the sweet tomatoes I’d enjoyed with my sardines and lashings of olive oil.
This is not fussy food. It’s not precise, it’s not artistic and it’s not experimental. It’s rustic, it’s simple and it’s hearty both in the traditional meaning and in the fact it feels like it’s full of heart. For an owner to be so confident in his dishes that he’ll pick for a diner on their first trip to his restaurant fills me with joy and makes me want to go back and let that same guy choose my dinner again.
Plus, I took a sneak peek at the kitchen where the magic happens on my way to the loo and it was one of the smallest spaces ever. It’s like someone’s opened up their home to guests and is serving up exactly the same food they’d serve to their family. Hospitality at its most simple and most honest.
Despite the fishy focus of the restaurant, Jamie couldn’t be steered away from the rack of lamb. Call us naive or heathens, but I’m sure I’ve been to places before where ‘rack of lamb’ translates into ‘a couple of tiny lamb cutlets’. Not here. He did have the whole rack. An impressive arrangement of juicy, generous lamb chops scattered with crispy onions in a gravy that was as far from a fussy ‘jus’ as you can get. Meaty, rich and in abundance. No mean portions here.
Much to our host’s frustration, we couldn’t face dessert after such a feast, but finished our meal with our new-found favourite – honey rum. In a simple, but winning move, the standard ‘shot after a meal’ you get offered in so many resorts is delivered slightly differently. Two empty glasses and the bottle left on your table for you to partake of as much, or as little as you like. I can’t decide whether it made us feel a bit more grown-up, or a bit more childlike as we debated how many shots of the amber nectar-like liquid we could sup on before it would be considered rude.
In case it hasn’t become clear, The Fisherman’s Inn was one of the highlights of our holiday. Yes, I love a swanky tasting menu, where my tastebuds are challenged and my eyes can feast as much as my mouth. But I also love a simple setting, hearty food packed with flavour, and a place where the owner may not have a Michelin star but has as much passion as the chef who does. Someone who wants to feed people, to make them happy, and to see them go away with a smile. The Fisherman’s Inn is this, and long may it last.
We paid in full at the Fisherman’s Inn and they didn’t know I was a blogger. If you plan on going, they don’t take cards so make sure you’re armed with cash!