When I made our reservation a few weeks back, I’d read the online menu and thought “Hey up, this place is chasing a Michelin star”, not realising then that it was just about to be awarded one in Michelin’s 2024 announcements for Spain in late November.
Now, it’s fair to say that long tasting menus are not our first choice way of having dinner. But, sometimes, it’s what you have to do, if you want to sample modern, inventive cooking. And, as we were staying in an apartment literally next door to the Hotel Villa Cortes, where the restaurant is located, it was too good an opportunity for a pre-Christmas treat to pass up on.
The menu has a story to tell. It’s the story of the island’s food and food traditions. Apart from your own personalised copy of the menu, you have a map of the island showing where the various dishes relate to. As each is served, they are explained to you and that’s often accompanied by little cards giving more of the history or cultural significance. So, it’s more of an experience than just having dinner. The food is intricate and I couldn’t possible recall of the descriptions but, as best I can, this is what we ate
Several snacks to start. A tuna tartare, a seaweed cracker topped with raw prawns and a couple of others now forgotten.
The Canarian shrimp was only discovered in 1969. It’s become a premium food product and is served raw, along with sea urchin and a crab broth. That’s followed by a bread course – slices from three different crusty loaves, along with a spreadable goats cheese (fashioned to look like one of those wrinkled Canarian potatoes). My companion in life doesn’t like goat in any form so passed on this (apart from scoffing the bread) and would pass on the other goat courses.
Carabinero prawns are local to the Eastern Atlantic and, here, are served raw and chopped up, mixed with rice and sea cucumber. Served separately, a grilled prawn head. Next up, baby squid may have been my favourite dish – cooked through but still with a little chew, it came with an ink sauce and a bit of vegetable puree…
Two fish courses follow. The first had two fillets of fish finished in a rich thermidor sauce. For contast, there’s a couple of cubes of sweet potato, doused with a sharpness from lime . The second dish was cherne which appears on menus all over the tourist area. But they do some culinary wizardry here, curing one small fillet for three days and another for ten days, so the latter has a much firmer texture. They come with three sauces – spinach, mushroom and one made from fish collagen. It all works.
The 1973 in the restaurant name is a reference to when work started to build the Villa Cortes. By then, the Canarian black pig was close to extinction – in 1981, there were only twenty sows and three boars left. It’s now been saved as restaurants and butchers on the island offer it as a premium product. It is a delicious meat – here a small slice is wrapped round an offal filling and truffle is grated over it.
Goat puts in another appearance, in the form of some shoulder meat, chopped bits of sweetbread and a lovely goat sauce. There’s mashed potato and shards of crispy potato skin. I thought this was delicioius and, of course, with my companion’s aversion to goat, meant I got seconds.
At this point, a palate cleansing sorbet is served, made from goats milk yoghurt. Really tangy.
A cheese course was a revelation.They have two trollies loaded with about thirty Canarian sheep and goat cheeses, almost all from small producers. Who knew there was such a variety. The server selects six for you, takes them away to be plated, returning with a little salad and slices of a very thin and crisp slices of toast.
Dessert is listed as “Eat Tenerife” and it is, indeed, a chocolate concoction in the shape of the island. The server suggests eating it from south to north and, as you do, you pick up flavours of cream, pineapple, banana,(of course) and a little chilli at the end. Each mouthful tastes different to the previous one. Clever or what?
Petit fours are served with coffee. You’re invited to select from an array displayed on a boards. All are excellent. The coffee itself was the only duff note of the evening – being thin on flavour and only lukewarm.
And, when you’ve finished eating, you’re invited to do a quick tour of the kitchen, where one of the chefs explains some of the gizmos they have to do some of the wizardry. A dehydrator, for example, to create powders and a centrifuge for separating liquids.
This had been a fascinating and enjoyable evening (if a very lengthy one, taking about four hours) with food that was delicious yet, at times, challenging. Tableware was fantastic. Very thin stems on glasses, craft made crockery with some pieces seemingly made from lumps of volcanic rock. Service was first rate throughout. For some years, I’ve reckoned a meal at a Costa Adeje hotel restaurant was the best food I’d eaten in Tenerife in some 25+ years visiting. But I’d have to say that Taste 1973 has now pushed that meal aside. This really is the most elegant, refined and complex food I have experienced on the island. And very reasonably priced in comparison with many UK Michelins 1* restaurants. But, with their unique story to tell, I suspect it will be quite a while before there are changes to the menu which probably means it’ll be quite a while before we’d want to go back.