Calle Joaquin Costa, 27
Tel.: +34 963 748 558
Overall rating: 6/10
Date of visit: July 2012
Mercatbar is owned by Quique Dacosta, and as I had recently been to Quique Dacosta’s wonderful restaurant in Denia I was looking forward to Mercatbar, although I knew it would be nothing like his restaurant in Denia. As far as I know, Dacosta isn’t much involved with the specific dishes here. This is partly a tapas bar, partly a restaurant.
The cooking was capable, and all the food was okay, but it was never really anything special.
We had these four courses to share:
* Octopus with mashed potatoes (€9.18)
* Pork with mashed potatoes, red peppers and a spicy sauce (€10.75)
* Creme Catalana (€4.32). I forgot to take a picture.
* Chocolate soufflé/fondant/muffin (€5.94)
Water was €2.70 for half a litre. All in all this meal came to €17.80 per person
The octopus was chewy rather than tender, and it was simply dusted with way too much paprika.
I was unsure what cut of pork we actually had. The menu in English said shank, but the one in Spanish said solomillo (tenderloin). Nevertheless, the sauce was nice (chilli, thyme and oil) but a bit too spicy for my liking, and unfortunately it drowned out the flavour of the pork.
The creme catalana needed some vanilla if you ask me, but then maybe that’s not part of the original recipe, and then of course you cannot add it (they’re gonna kill you in Spain if you make just the smallest change to any of their traditional food ;-)). The caramelised sugar on top had a smoky taste to it, which was nice in the beginning, but at the end I was a bit sick of it. The apples on top was, as usual in Spain, devoid of flavour. Southern European Golden Delicious, Gala and similar types simply cannot compete with for instance Elstar, Cox Orange or Filippa from Scandinavia when it comes to flavour.
The chocolate dessert said soufflé on the menu, but was nothing of the sort. It was really a muffin that was just a tiny bit runny in the centre, which is the only link to a fondant. It was pleasant enough, and the passion fruit sauce was a nice contrast to heavy and rich chocolate.
All in all, the cooking was capable and a lot better than in most restaurants in Valencia which live off selling poorly fried octopus and floury potatoes with aioli. The food here was definitely better cooked and a lot more interesting, but was never really was better than just okay. That said, I of course didn’t expect to find world-class cooking for less than €10 per dish, and for this price I would think the food is some of the best you can find in Valencia. The only place where I’ve had food of similar quality for this price in Valencia is Raco del Turia and Samsha. The food was better at Samsha, and a lunch menu was €20 + drinks for three courses during the restaurant week (normally €24.20 including drinks). Raco del Turia was also €20 for lunch during the restaurant week, but I believe it is significantly more expensive usually.