I had watched with interest the arrival of El Lajar de Bello in La Camella from their original location in Las Zocas, a small rural village close to Aldea Blanca, where the restaurant had an excellent reputation. While I had never been, my old hairdresser Liz had strongly recommended it before she returned to the UK, so it was on my list of places to try. Although they moved to their new location last August, it has just been a case of getting around to it, hard to imagine why, particularly now as they are less than five minutes down the road.
I had visited the first restaurant that had been at the La Camella location, (right on the roundabout where one road leads to Arona and the other carries straight on to San Miguel) and not been impressed. I then saw it change hands to Mexican La Taqueria but as I am not a lover of Mexican food, we never ate there. On Tuesday night however, we were due to go out with friends but they contacted us to say one of them had flu. With no meal out of the freezer and nothing in mind to cook, we decided to give LB a try.
Tuesdays are quiet nights in the villages so we didn´t reserve a table even though whenever I have passed LB it has always appeared to be busy, at least going by the number of cars. Based on their former reputation they have brought their established diners with them. We were also planning to eat early another reason why we were confident of getting a table. This is a very Spanish restaurant, and the clientele are mainly local who tend to eat late in the evening so visiting before 9.00pm you are, in general, guaranteed a seat, which proved correct on this occasion.
On entering the restaurant there is a lovely warm feeling a nice bar to have pre drinks if you are waiting and an elegant though traditional dining room where guests can eat comfortably with sufficient privacy between tables. There are also two private dining rooms if you want to bring a party of up to ten people.
To the side of the bar there are two televisions where you can watch your meal being prepared in the kitchen by the proprietor and chef Alejandro Bello.
We ordered our meal and were given a large basket of different breads with a cream and pineapple dip, butter and alioli.
Our starter then arrived. This is where our Spanish let us down. The staff have limited English and after we had ordered baked banana with crispy bacon and Nuestro Ferrero (sweet black pudding coated with almonds) we were asked how many. One each we answered confidently para él, el banano y para mí el morcilla dulce. You can see from the photo why the waitress looked a little askance but we got exactly what we asked for.
Our main course consisted of suckling veal with garlic and solomillo Iberico with apple puree served with tomato and french fries. The meats were delicious and extremely tender. The food is exquisitely presented with visual appeal without being overdone. The portions are not huge, but rely on the taste of the main ingredient enriched by unusual accompaniments that enhance rather than overpower the flavours.
While waiting for our dessert we were given lemon sorbet, served in glasses that stand at an angle – and you thought I had too much vino when taking the photo!
OH had the flaky pastry filled with custard and cream and I had Grandma’s biscuit which turned out to be a delicious coffee and almond cream with a crispy base. After asking for the bill €50 we were given huge glasses of peach schnapps. Not those diddy little things most places serve, but glasses the size of brandy balloons almost half full, so I had both of those !!
I would highly recommend this restaurant if you are looking for something really Spanish. The staff are young, dynamic and very professional. Of course, it should be remembered that this is my personal opinion, while some people base their reviews of restaurants on how cheap it is and how high your plate is piled with food for me that does not enter the equation. Far more important – the surroundings are nice, the service impeccable and the company good. Anyone who is in business is there to make a profit so the quality of the food can only be as good as the price charged nobody is going to give top quality for knock down prices that does not make sense.