[Costa Adeje, Tenerife] La Cupula

Not been for a couple of years, so worth another review:-

La Cupula is the “fine dining” restaurant at the Jardines de Nivaria and is open to the public, as well as hotel guests. When we ate here in 2018, we reckoned it was the best food we’d ever eaten in Tenerife in some 25+ years visiting. Nothing has happened since then to change our minds. The food is modern, creative and executed perfectly. Service is “proper” but relaxed and delivered with a smile.

There’s three food offerings. First, a standard “a la carte”. Second, a tasting menu of eight courses taken from the carte. And, third, a five course tasting menu. This menu is interesting in that it’s been developed jointly by Cupula’s chef, Ruben Cabrera, and Benoit Neusy, a Michelin starred chef in Belgium. They call it “cuisine a quatre mains”. It’s what we picked last time and, whilst the dishes have completely changed since then, it’s what we picked this time.

Bread came quickly. A fantastic sourdough with a really crisp crust. And two olive oils, butter, mojo piquante and a flavoured mayo to slather on to it. The first course was “Scallop Tiradito” – sliced raw scallops sat on a bed of cauliflower puree and thin slices and radish for crunch. It’s a great start.

Then a very clever dish with cuttlefish. We’ve eaten a similar idea at a Michelin starred restaurant in Mallorca. What they do is cut the cuttlefish into strips, so that it resembles pasta. It’s then cooked and dressed in their take on a classic carbonara sauce. In the bottom of the bowl, a little finely diced ham. Then the cuttlefish. That was topped with a confit egg yolk and, finely, grated Parmesan cheese. It’s as richly flavoured as a traditional carbonara.

A small fillet of turbot came next. The only criticism here is that the skin wasn’t crisp, and who wants to eat flabby fish skin. It was a bit of a faff to get it off (better if the kitchen had done it before serving). The fish itself is perfect – both in flavour and texture. The accompaniments – carrots prepared several ways – were interesting if not entirely to our taste. There were two purees, one heavily flavoured with orange which, we felt, overpowered the delicate fish. There’s a few bits of lightly cooked carrot and a very thin slice, rolled up into a cylinder, - all of which gave some texture contrast.

Beef loin comes from a Friesen cow – they don’t mention it comes from a Spanish farm or is imported from the Netherlands. It’s been cooked in Robatayaki style – Japanese barbeque – and was served thinly sliced in a very savoury sauce. A chunk of roast yucca acts as the carb and was heavily coated in a cheese sauce, made from sheep’s milk from Guia in Gran Canaria.

Dessert was outstanding. Its centrepiece was a lightly flavoured banana ice cream. Accompanying it, a pineapple jelly and a very caramelly praline, made using miso, which gave it a hint of savoury in an otherwise very sweet caramel. Also in there was the flavour of honey rum but we couldn’t quite work out where it was. The petit fours which came with coffee, was another example of the pastry chef’s skill. The plate looked very pretty even if some of the flavours were muted. But I’m sure the point was to have a fun ending to the meal and, in that, it completely worked.

As I mentioned earlier, this is the best food I know in Tenerife. The sort of quality that wouldn’t surprise you if Michelin awarded the restaurant a star. But it also wouldn’t surprise you if they continued not to.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold