When I eat out with friends I don´t normally choose restaurants in the resorts. Not because I have anything against them, in fact quite the opposite. I mostly eat in the resorts at lunchtime but that is a totally different ballgame, on an evening I like to show friends that the island has more to offer than the usual tourist fayre. However on this occasion we were a group of seven and I was left to choose because of the diversity in taste preferences. I therefore erred on the side of caution and chose Carlos in Costa Adeje (Puerto Colon).
I came to this decision because the reviews on Tripadviser while never 100% accurate are usually ‘safe’ and I did think that 210 reviews out of 266 who rated it ‘excellent’ couldn’t all be wrong. Using this as a yardstick had worked well the previous week when we visited Tasca Tierras del Sur in Granadilla. The restaurants pedigree is encouraging after all in this tough climate they couldn´t have survived if they were rubbish. However I do always try to tell it as it is and the phrase “Everybody’s out of step but my Johnny” springs to mind.
I phoned early in the week to book a table. When we arrived as a party of four we found the other three already in the small bar next door having a drink and waiting for us. As we walked up they ordered drinks for us and I said I would just let the restaurant know we had arrived and would be in shortly.
The restaurant has a comfortable and pleasant interior while the outside seating area seemed a little confused as to whether they were a Moroccan-style bar or a Portuguese, Seafood restaurant which is what they say it is on Tripadviser but nevertheless I received a courteous welcome.
At this point I checked my watch and it was 5 minutes before our reservation time, I said we will drink up and be here in 15 minutes and the waitress said fine. But …. Can you hear the alarm bells starting to ring? A man who I assume is Carlos came up and said no not fine. Don´t get me wrong, he was not rude or in the least bit unpleasant but he stressed they were going to be busy and we needed to be seated at once. I was a bit taken aback as there were only two people in the restaurant and I wasn’t planning on delaying our meal by hours. Two of our party have specific times to eat by, so as I walked away I said to the waitress I trust it is OK if we bring our drinks (which 3 of us hadn´t even tasted) with us and she said no problem.
Once we were seated and given the menu we were told we could not drink the drinks we had brought in (1 bottled beer, 1 coke, 1 limon and a tonic). I am not trying to advocate taking cheap drinks from one place to another but we were only finishing off what we had and were in fact in the middle of placing our order for drinks to go with our meal when we were told this. Now to me if you have a relatively large party who you know are going to spend a fair amount of money, you do not quibble over 4 drinks at a maximum cost of €6.
The menu arrived as well as a specials board and the food looked solid and consistent if somewhat short on the inspiration front. But to diss the straightforward cooking because it doesn’t attempt fireworks would be unfair.
We ordered 4 starters to share all either garlic bread with cheese or the addition of tomato. It was fine, nothing out of the ordinary but inoffensive.
The main courses were mostly decent enough, the fruity chicken (think it was mango looked nice) the kebab with couscous looked nice, the boozy chicken looked good despite the fact it was swimming in sauce and Albert said his salmon was nice.
Jim and I both ordered the steak with langoustine and this is where I had a problem because to me langoustines should be similar to high-end Dublin Bay prawns or possibly crayfish and what I got were 3 overcooked, to the point the shells were burnt, gambas reminiscent of the small ones from Mercadona rather than the large succulent one. The mains were all accompanied by nice carrots, broccoli and Lyonnaise Potatoes, unfortunately, it wasn’t until we were all served that we realised all the onions were at the bottom of the dish instead of mixed through, so those served last were left looking for their spuds!
By now the outside eating area had filled up although nobody was ‘inside’ the restaurant despite tables being set that appear to have been earmarked for parties. In fact nobody used the inside of the restaurant all evening which made the refusal of our request to delay by 15 minutes a bit churlish.
Things looked up at the dessert stage, we had a selection, Tiramisu, chocolate sundae, Carlos special (aka Eton Mess) and Banana and caramel something or other. I was looking forward to my pudding but it was bland, the meringue which I had expected to be crispy outside and chewy inside was hard and crumbly it could have been from a packet, the cream a large swirl from an aerosol. In all, I felt totally let-down by my preconceptions.
Try as I might, I couldn’t persuade myself that the overall experience here was anything less than satisfactory. The rest of the party said they enjoyed themselves but we had been to better. We know each other well enough, to be honest, but they would be upset if they thought I felt I had let them down.
Bottom line though: everything was okay, nothing was bad but nothing was great either. If there is a catch – and I think there is – it’s that old chestnut, pricing. I know that costs are higher in the resorts than they are in the back lanes of the villages, but even so… €248 is not a cheap night out and we have had far better for far less. On a positive note, my two dogs enjoyed the steak I couldn’t eat for their breakfast the next day.