Sunday, 4 March 2007

Restaurants in Vilanova: Basque food at El Far

Whenever I go to the Basque country for business, I have a feeling that the pride of their cuisine is in the quality of the beef, while fish only takes a secondary role. At El Far (Passeig Marítim, 107; phone 93 815 42 07), it is the other way around. The menu lists some five meat based main courses, but the focus is on fish cooked and served in styles originating from different Basque provinces. Except for the Basque dishes, El Far also offers a nice selection of rice dishes, paellas and arrossos.

Already before your enter, you will notice a fresh, white interior and marina inspired high class textile tablerunners. El Far has been decorated with some old fishing equipment and the owners have managed to get the balance just right. With more props, the place would start to look tacky, but as it is now it adds to the flavour of the place.

This was one of the first places which people from Barcelona recommended my wife and me to go to when they learnt that we had moved to Vilanova i la Geltrú. Only last Friday, however, did we finally make it, letting the children stay at home. Although prices are moderate (starters around € 10, main courses at € 17 and desserts for € 5), I would place El Far among Vilanova’s up-market restaurants so we did appreciate to be able to enjoy the food together, rather than taking turns either eating or looking after the children. Except for that, this is a small place – less than 10 tables plus a small terrace – so there is not really anywhere but the street outside to escape to if you have to comfort a crying baby.

To be fair to the owners I do not think that they would have objected to us bringing children. Rarely have we met with such a commitment to make us like a place from the very first visit and such an interest in explaining how the different dishes are being prepared - an impressive personal service well on the same level as the quality of the cooking.

You do not go to el Far to see and to be seen. Theirs is a story about good cooking and the relatively small and niched menu makes it a place rather for special occasions than for regular weekend dinners. Some day we will have to try the rice dishes as well, but at least for next visit we look forward to continue to explore the Basque fish variations.

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