On Calle Santander, just one street back from Benidorm’s Poniente Beach, there’s a real gem of a restaurant that you may have passed without noticing, but I’m sure you’ll want to seek it out once you read this review. Spain Life Exclusive headed to Benidorm recently to talk to La Falua’s owner, Jose, and review some of the menu items, so our readers can make an informed dining choice when visiting Benidorm.
Contrary to what you may have heard, Benidorm isn’t just about fast food and tapas – there are some excellent restaurants around, and La Falua is one of the best. I asked Jose why people should come there, and he said:
At La Falua, we have made a place where people can relax and enjoy good food, in a peaceful environment. That’s very important to us.
La Falua is certainly an oasis of tranquility amid the bustle of Benidorm. It’s set at the quiet end of the Old Town, yet not too far from the night life. The thoughtful design ensures maximum peaceful ambience for the lucky diners. The main restaurant and terrace is below street level, and accessible by steps, and the café bar and terrace, which is accessible from the restaurant and the street, enjoys some great vistas across the town and the beach.
As soon as you enter La Falua, to a warm welcome from Jose, you know you are somewhere special. The décor is tasteful and luxurious, without being distracting, and there’s always something good to look at as you wait for the chefs to prepare your food. There are some interesting works of art on the walls, and the background music is unobtrusive. La Falua is designed for relaxation and enjoyment, down to the last detail.
The service is attentive but not intrusive. We were very impressed by the small details, such as the way the Front of House manager mixed olive oil and balsamic vinegar in individual dishes, rather than just serving up little disposable pots, as most restaurants are doing in a bid to avoid cross infection during the Covid-19 outbreak. It’s a small but significant touch, as was the way any crumbs on the table were brushed away as they cleared between courses.
The bread was hot and crusty, and the ali oli was quite honestly the best I’ve ever tasted. It was fluffy, with a good balance of flavours, and it was worth the trip just for that!
My dining partner and myself were literally spoiled for choice, so we asked Jose to recommend dishes for us to try. We also elected to share all the dishes. It is a food review after all, and two heads are better than one, when it comes to tasting!
The first recommendation was Carapaccio de Solomio – a dish with Italian influences, and a real flavour of the Mediterranean. The dish consists of finely sliced beef tenderloin, and sliced Italian hard cheese with oil and seasoning. It looked inviting, it was attractively presented, and we both felt we really wanted to eat it, although it had been chosen for us. The beef melted in the mouth, and had an excellent mouth feel, which is important when using raw or almost raw ingredients.
Next came Ensalada de Foie – an interesting combination of salad ingredients, topped with two slices of home-made pate. This wasn’t just a smooth pate – the texture was really creamy, meaning there was minimum chew time for maximum flavour, as my dining partner so eloquently put it. The sweet/savoury sauce provided an interesting contrast and blend of flavours – so much so it was difficult to pick out individual ingredients. It was literally a symphony for the senses – it looked good, tasted even better, and left you feeling you’d eaten so much more than a salad.
Our third entrée was Tuna Tartare. This is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to Steak Tartare for non-meat eaters, or those who prefer something lighter, but still flavoursome. Again, it was beautifully presented, with a base of avocado, garnished with trout roe for colour, texture and flavour. Perfectly prepared, it made us happy that we’d chosen to go with Jose’s recommendations, because everything was a true treat for the taste buds.
Jose asked if we preferred meat or fish for our main course, so in the interests of doing justice to the tasting session, we opted for a fish dish and a meat dish. The recommended fish plate was Tuna Tataki, seared tuna steak with a Japanese style dressing. Often served as a starter, at La Falua it’s a main plate, imaginatively presented, with broccoli, tomato and courgette on the side. The rock salt seasoning and lumpfish roe garnish brought out the real flavour of the fish without overpowering it. I love fresh tuna, and this was a new way of presenting it which I’ll happily try again.
Our meat dish was beef entrecote grilled over oak, served with mushrooms, courgette, tomato, potato and padron pepper. It was nice to have a selection of vegetables alongside the main course – so many Spanish restaurants are light on vegetables, but La Falua is more balanced in its flavours and textures. The presentation was very interesting – the steak was sliced into bite-sized pieces, ready to eat, and you get three levels of steak flavour in a single mouthful. It’s nicely crisped on the outside, medium in the next layer and rare in the centre. This may not work if you like your steak cooked more, so mention that when ordering.
The portions at La Falua are so generous, we didn’t really have room for dessert, but we felt we really should, so we shared a blackcurrant cheesecake. It slid down easily, thanks to the thin biscuit base and light, fluffy filling with a generous topping of fruit. A perfect end to a perfect meal.
Spain Life Exlcusive is happy to recommend La Falua to discerning diners in Benidorm. If the full menu sounds like too much for you, you can order snacks or light meals in the upstairs café bar. La Falua also boasts an excellent cellar, with a good choice of wines and spirits. It’s the perfect place for a special evening of fine food and wine and relaxation in this perfect little pocket of Benidorm, where all is calm and the surroundings are special. We’ll be back very soon.
Image credit: All photos courtesy of Rai Woods, Torrevieja.
Calle Santander, 22, Benidorm – 03502
Telephone: 965 85 31 05; 609 14 28 21