La Trave: Cheese and Chalk

Coming from a country where we men are used to being pushed around by the likes of Maggie, Camilla and Bridget, and where it is the lot of men to slouch around looking dishevelled, hands in pockets; it came as no surprise that when we were peering into La Trave wondering why there was no menu outside, that a busty waitress should appear and order us in, which we did so rather sharpishly.

The menu does exist; it’s chalked behind the shutters of the door that leads to the toilets. It looked a bit pricey until we were told that the prices were for three people, something which, although it turned out to be accurate, did make us wonder what they say to couples and foursomes.

This is the kind of restaurant where you could sit around just admiring the decoration. One of two things is true; either it used to be a chapel or the proprietors ransacked one in order to come up with all the paintings and artefacts that give the restaurant its feel of ramshackle glory. The dim lighting and the stone walls also contributed to an atmosphere that can only be described as medieval; unless, that is, you have imagination.

La TraveThe waitress was happy, laughing and smiling and spoke pretty good English. The cook, Tonino, was Italian and had some mean things to say about the residents of Turin, where I used to live but was starting to regret it.

There is a casual, giggling atmosphere about the place that put me in mind of one or two opium dens I have never visited.

The menu was brief; a plate of grilled vegetables, a massive house salad, carpaccio and eggplant, roast pork, ox steak. There were two or three other things on the menu but I had to turn around and order.

The ox steak was thick and bloody and turned out to be for four, judging by how much we left.

The wine list is chalked upon the wine rack next to the bar, so next time I’ll take my own piece of chalk and try my luck. The wines themselves were all ones I had never heard of and must therefore cost more than 2 euros in the supermarket.

As you blend into the scenery you begin to notice a few incongruities; like the photos of aggressive looking Italian troops making ready to invade Abyssinia no doubt, or the poster of Clint Eastwood from an old spaghetti western. The accordion lying on a chair completes this attempt at ‘Italiania’, although the best thing there was the other waitress, the beautiful Rumanian one. Are there no beautiful women left in Rumania?

La Trave is fairly well hidden away in the Carmen district of Valencia in C/ Juan de Juanes 2. Telephone 96 3923116.

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