Let me say, upfront, that in over 25 years of visiting Tenerife, this is the best food we’ve eaten on the island. Best, by far. It’s modern, it’s creative, it’s very well executed. La Cupula is the “gourmet” restaurant at the Hotel Jardines de Nivaria (where we were staying) and is open to the general public as well as hotel guests.
There’s a very short carte – I think three choices at each course. And two tasting menus. One seemed quite fusiony, European and East Asian. The other designed by the chef, Ruben Cabrera, in collaboration with Michelin starred Belgian chef, Gilles Joye, seemed more fixed in European traditions, We ordered the latter.
Bread came first. Two sorts. Both excellent with crisp crust and one of them tasting of lovely olive oil. There’s lots to go with them – two sorts of olive oil, including one from Tenerife, ordinary butter and one whipped with herring roe and, of course, a fairly poky red mojo sauce.
The first dish was totally unexpected. Titled on the menu only as “crispy brush shrimps”, we hadn’t a clue what it might actually be and I doubt we’d have ever guessed. Very tiny whole (unpeeled ?) shrimps had been baked into wafer thin slices of crispbread – as thin as an Indian poppadum. There’s such a skill in doing that. A little bowl of tartare sauce was perfect for dunking.
We’d normally choose not to eat foie gras but gave it a go here. Leaving aside the ethics of the force feeding of the geese, it’s a very rich piece of meat, not really to our tastes. There’s an aubergine cream and a scattering of basil, tomato and mozzarella. It was OK but our least enjoyed course.
A soup next. A lovely light crystal-clear consommé, enhanced with a few dice of bacon, chickpeas, slices of mini corn cobs and noodles.
Then Meagre fish – I think part of the bass family – grilled with lime and served on top of a black rice risotto. This was certainly the best looking plate of the evening and maybe the best tasting one as well. The final savoury course was beef, lightly smoked and served with a potato puree and spring onions. Cabbage had been cooked with something that gave it a slight sweetness. It had then been very finely shredded before being compressed into a rectangular block. It all worked so well together. I particularly liked the contrast between the slight smoky flavour of the meat and the sweet of the cabbage.
For the first dessert, there was a “coconut mojito” – actually a coconut and kaffir lime ice-cream, surrounded by a tangy yoghurt. Really refreshing. And, finally, a mandarin sorbet with a citrus dressing. Crispy rice provided a really nice texture contrast. Clever stuff!
This really had been a cracking evening. One of us took the wine flight and reckoned the selection for each course was spot on. La Cupula is mentioned in the Michelin Guide but, as yet, there’s no Michelin star. With food of this quality, it can only be a matter of time before it gets the accolade.