[Los Cristianos, Tenerife] Pa'lante

We were looking forward to eating at Pa’lante which opened fairly recently in the premises previously occupied by Casa Tagoro. The Austrian chef/owner of the latter has relocated away from the tourist area to develop his business. The new owners have redecorated and refurnished the space, creating a bright modern room with none of the tired drabness of before

The restaurant name is Spanish slang roughly meaning “go for it”. And it does, with an eclectic menu. Or, on a different spin, you could say it’s a restaurant in search of an identity. Certainly, its menu reaches out across the globe – Belgian croquettes, before going west to American style BBQ ribs, or e ast to a Thai red curry. It’s a family affair. He, a Belgian, is the chef while she, an American does front of house with the help of a couple of Spaniards. Everyone does their thing very well. And it all came together for us with a three course meal that was faultless – something we’d rarely say about meals at any level of cooking. Expectations certainly exceeded.

Croquettes are a common starter in both Belgium and Spain and we’ve enjoyed them in both countries. Here, the thick béchamel sauce was heavily flavoured with Gouda and Parmesan. And there’s a truffle mayo for dunking. Just delicious. Fish goujons may seem like a simple dish but I bet there are actually quite tricky for the chef – you have to get a crisp coating without overcooking the fish. It’s nailed here – the panko breadcrumb coating is mixed with sesame seeds to add flavour and remind you that you’re not eating a fish finger. Homemade tartare sauce was bang-on.

I confess to not being keen on the fairly recent technique of restaurants cooking food sous vide in a plastic bag in a water bath. It reminds me of “boil in the bag” food from decades ago. Also, if not done well, it can leave the food with a pappy texture. Here, they taken de-boned chicken thighs and do most of the cookinjg sous vide but then finish them on the grill to crisp the skin and give it a bit of texture. Puttign my sous vide prejudices aside, this really works. The chicken comes with green beans sautéed with onion. You also get to choose a sauce to be served alongside – BBQ in this case. I also had a portion of rice.

Across the table, my companion had been keen to have something to eat that wasn’t the big lumps of protein of recent days. Aubergine Parmigiana was just the thing. Cooked as the classic Italian dish, slices of aubergine layered up with mozzarella and a really flavoursome tomato sauce, topped with a handful of rocket, drizzled with a balsamic glaze. Bread was a good suggestion as a carb.

We both went the same route with dessert. A take on the Belgian Dame Blanche. Here, crisp profiteroles were split open and stuffed with the ice cream and whipped cream before being topped with a really rich house made chocolate sauce. I would happily eaten a bucket full of these.

We finished with go coffee and it really had been a nice evening. And, as for that issue of the restaurant’s identity, just keep giving people such a nice time and they will return. They won’t remember it as “this sort of restaurant” or “that sort of restaurant! But just as a “good restaurant”.