If I were a restaurant owner in Santa Cruz de la Palma, I’d be Incredible Hulk coloured at the thought of La Placeta’s location. Enviable just doesn’t cut the mustard.
On the seafront side, La Placeta’s 18th century façade forms part of one of the biggest attractions of La Palma’s capital, Los Balcones; a row of historic buildings whose antique painted balconies, adorned with tumbling plants, are a super magnet for cameras. La Placeta is one of the most colourful of Los Balcones, with a veritable jungle of potted plants hanging from its delightfully rickety looking balcony.
But, if that wasn’t enough, cut through a narrow passage and La Placeta also looks over one of the most picturesque little plazas in Santa Cruz de la Palma; the restaurant’s tables and chairs decorate a cobbled square and trickling fern fountain,
Let’s face it, anyone who sets eyes on La Placeta doesn’t need me to sell it to them.
Inside the charm continues with deeply polished floorboards and staircase and tasteful furnishings that are lifted by contemporary and witty touches. A fashion parade of stylish images accompany me up the staircase to intimate dining rooms whose open, latticed windows offer a light sea-breeze relief from stifling September temperatures whilst a jazzy soundtrack soothes my soul.
Within seconds of entering I’m relaxed and enjoying the ambience – this is exactly my type of restaurant. It’s classy, stylish, historic and cool – but totally unpretentious or fussy. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails or simply just a coffee at La Placeta; they welcome all-comers.
Enticing though a beautifully tasteful wrapping is, it’s nothing if it can’t deliver a culinary present to match.
The Food at La Placeta
The menu is mainly traditional Canarian in personality but with a worldly wise influence; so that beside fried Camembert and local favourites there is hummus and even a selection of vegetarian dishes. The wine list has a distinctly Iberian flavour with a good selection of La Palma varieties.
Exhibit A – Queso del Pais Tricolor
I’m a sucker for grilled cheese drizzled with mojos (Canarian sauces generally made with red peppers or cilantro) and honey but sometime the cheese can border on being rubbery in texture. Not so with La Placeta, the queso fresco is indeed fresh and soft, so that the flavours of the picante chunky mojos and sweet honey blend beautifully. They’re helped along by a cherry red bottle of Vega Norte that is summery light to drink – dangerously so. There’s a real possibility of it disappearing before the main course arrives.
Exhibit B – Crema de Calabaza
The gold and creamy pumpkin soup is light, peppery and full of savoury flavour. I rarely opt for soup when eating out but this one makes me rethink that policy.
Exhibit C – Conejo en Salsa
Rabbit in a rich sauce is a real Canarian speciality. Normally you see it as Conejo en Salmorejo on Canarian menus; La Placeta’s version is slightly different from the norm. Their rabbit sauce consists of red and green peppers, lentils, mushrooms and almonds and came with papas arrugadas (traditional small, salted potatoes in their skins). It’s a rich, hearty and tasty dish and I’m a big rabbit fan. But I don’t do this one justice. The combination of grilled cheese and soup (plus too much bread spread with more-ishly herby butter) beforehand leaves me a bit too stuffed to fully appreciate it.
Exhibit D – Príncipe Alberto
Despite being stuffed I feel it would be rude to say no to a local La Palma postre. With ingredients that include chocolate, fresh cream, sponge biscuits, hazelnuts and almonds, Príncipe Alberto sounds like the sort of concoction that could push me into Monty Python Meaning of Life territory. But in reality it is fluffy white-cloud light – it positively floats into the mouth bypassing the tongue and making straight for the taste buds. It is simply one of those orgasmic puds.
I think it’s fair to say that La Placeta’s ingredients match the promise of its oh so attractive wrapping.
La Placeta; Placeta Borrero, 1; +34 922 415 273; www.laplaceta.es; main courses average €13; open 10am to 11pm daily