Thursday 24 May 2018

Benalmádena Palace Hotel & Spa Restaurant: a Review

As the last bog-post, part of this one has appeared on Tripadvisor. However, for some reason they failed to explain, only part of the following was published. The square brackets indicate the missing text. A few additional comments and photos are also added for thoroughness.

This is the second time I have stayed at Benalmádena Palace. As a disabled person, this hotel is very accommodating. On my first visit I did not sample the cuisine in the hotel restaurant only in the snack-bar. On this occasion I have now tried the buffet on two occasions. Obviously, if I have returned, the offering must be at least fair. I should prefer to have rated the buffet as good rather than very good; but average does not do the main dining area justice.

On this occasion the amiable and helpful Miriam, who also serves in the snack-bar on occasion, advised me & took my order for a bottle of house cava. I did not think I should finish it; but after two hours of gobbling I did actually up-end the bottle.

On both occasions I have sampled soups. The first soup was a cream soup and quite tasty. The latest was based on tripe (image above). It looked extremely ugly, but tasted fabulous.

My second course on each occasion was fish. The first time was deep-fried whitebait and this time the most delicious, tender and juicy sword-fish (image above), I think. Perfectly cooked and so tasty. Full marks to the chef! (My regular readers know I adore my fish & seafood.)

On the first occasion I sampled mago, which was fine, but nothing special. I have sampled much better at La Huerta in Arroyo de la Miel. On this occasion I plumbed for roast turkey with stuffing and selected Asian salad as an accompaniment as I could find no potatoes (except chips). The turkey was dry - I sampled pieces from three parts of the slice I had selected - all without any real flavour and all I wished I could have spat out. I suspect the flesh had been under the heat lamps far too long. The stuffing could stand on its own: a sort of plastic pork concoction. It needed more breadcrumb & herbs or spices. The Asian salad on the other hand was a veritable delight: vinegary & sweet and crisp and overflowing with textures, colours & flavours. Full marks!

After my Asian salad, I went for the Japanese-style prawn dim sum, described in Spanish as empanadillas. This were crisp, non-greasy and soooo tasty. I consumed half-a-dozen of them with soy sauce swiped from the sushi counter. I could quite happily have just taken a huge bowl of these and returned to my room to gobble them in front of the TV-set (don't do it, the hotel will surcharge you!).

Next I decided upon a vegetarian noodle dish. The fine noodles were neither too soggy nor too crispy, but just right. Goldilocks would have scoffed the lot! The Chinese [mushrooms were neither soggy nor too firm. Again spot on. (Mushrooms are not that easy to source in Andalusia, so I should dearly love to know where the chef sourced these tasty morsels!) The roast red-peppers had a wonderful fruit-like texture and a concentrated sweet flavour. Oh yes. The only issue with the dish was an over-abundance of crudely chopped onion - hardly an authentic Oriental dish.

For dessert I opted for Stracciatella & vanilla ice-creams. Hardly artisanal; but refreshing and quite acceptable. I followed this with a selection of fresh fruit, melon & pineapple, which were perfectly fine, and a small selection of pâtisserie. The latter were very disappointing. I doubt the cook really knew how to make choux-pastry, as the concoctions were crunchy rather than satisfyingly chewy. The other confections were just sugary overdoses with no real distinct flavours. However, one ought to take account that Spanish pâtisserie is not up to Italian or Viennese standards anywhere I have visited. Nonetheless, I keep sampling cakes wherever I go, hoping to encounter a better offering. The best widely-available Spanish confection in my opinion is their tarta de manzana (apple tart - but nothing like those found in UK or Germanic countries), which wherever I go seems to be of a fairly high standard.

As a final comment, Nouu, a French student on work-experience, was premiering his shushi skills. He was most entertaining, and many folk stopped to watch him in process and his results were sampled and scoffed. As a regular sushi-eater the rice for me was overdone and too starchy. It had lost its integrity. I later spoke to the main chef, and he is going to offer sweet sushi next week - so I shall be back!

At €14.50, the buffet is extremely good value for money. Whilst for this money one might consider that rejecting the not so good dishes as acceptable, I personally hate to see food go to waste. There is far more that is good, occasionally really good, about the buffet than is below par. So I personally recommend giving it a try. My fish dish alone would have been €10-12 elsewhere, and I ate far more. And if you have kiddies, they seem to love it, especially all the desserts! ;) ]

Over several visits, I was pleased to discover this Portuguese naturally carbonated mineral water,  Pedras Salgadas.

The above images are from various repasts I also took in the dining-room (from top to bottom): another Asian mini-feast; mixed grilled fish with salad; fresh fruit platter with a bowl of three different ice-creams.

During my stay I heard several (loud and rather rude really) Brits whinge about the quality and variety of the food on offer. However, not a one was deterred from keep on returning for more. One lady "hated" the desserts, yet she made three separate visits to the postres and scoffed the lot. Hypocrites each and every one. The food is definitely not haute cuisine or cordon bleu. Yes, there were disastrous dishes on offer. And I turned up one Thursday evening when I could not find anything of quality that had been cooked - so salad and fresh fruit it was. Given how expensive restaurant prices are by the sea-front, the hotel's offering represents good value for money.

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