The Source of Contentment
Restaurants come and go, but some just seem to linger on despite changes in the economy or fashion. La Estrella (The Star) is one of them, lurking deep in the heart of Russafa in one of the streets that seems to disappear when you are looking for it a second time, like Brigadoon.
For a mere 9.50€ you can sate yourself with the set menu, or go for the tasting menu at 15.50€ and sample some standard Valencian cuisine along with a modern touch or two.
It includes cured ham and cheese, battered squid (the pesky varmits wouldn’t lay still!), Russian salad, goat’s cheese with cranberry confiture, and Iberian sirloin in cider.
The set menu contained four starters and four seconds, plus five desserts (inluding an enticing caramel banana), toasted bread and a caraffe of chilled red wine. A caraffe is a good measure if you have to work afterwards, whereas a glass is just pointless and a bottle tempting fate. As for those half bottles; I think we’d all agree that standards have to be maintained.
The mountain stew didn’t contain mountains, although there appeared to be some mountain inhabitants in there, and the fried fish was accompanied by potatoes, aubergine, onion and pepper. Solid fare, and if you want something more adventurous, they have a warm salad with duck and goat’s cheese and a wide variety of rice dishes.
The decor is interested; as if someone decided to start a beer mirror collection but then chose to open a restaurant instead.
There are also a couple of Welsh dressers, on top of which were wooden devices that were either elaborate corkscrews or basic thumbscrews.
A humble attempt had been made to translate the menu into English, which always makes for entertaining reading. Hence you could, should you be feeling a little bit cruel, order Ruse Salad, eels in spicy tomatoe source, or inlets to share.
There are three parts to the restaurant; one to enjoy all the shouting, one to listen to some rather pleasant music, during which somebody informed me that he had his mojo working, which is commendable in this day and age, and which is not so loud as to make you wanna shout, yeah, yeah, yeah. In other words, blues and soul.
Sitting in this section you can also watch people trying to get in through the wrong entrance, and admire the potted plant adorned with abandoned corks.
The waiters are chunky men dressed in black, serving with a relaxed friendliness that is neither severe nor grovelling; clearly they have seen all there is to see, climbed the mountain and returned exuding serenity.
Some olives were offered as a freebie, which I always resent as I inexplicably can’t stand olives, while adoring olive oil (please tell me I’m not alone in this!)
Calle Sevilla 30.