Saturday, 9 May 2015

La Corona de Arucas, a restaurant review

After being closed for more than two years, El Mesón de Arucas finally opened its doors to the public in late 2014 as La Corona de Arucas. Completely refurbished, at a cost of more than half a million euros, La Corona offers enough capacity for 800 people, and a panoramic view of parts of Gran Canaria from an altitude of 430 metres above sea level. On a clear day, you may even be able to see Fuerteventura, or so it is claimed.

We had no such luck the day we came up here. It was a damp, drizzly, cloudy day which offered us hazy views of the cathedral of Arucas, which isn't really a cathedral, but that's another story.

Arriving at mid afternoon on a Sunday, I was surprised to find the car park almost full. Just as well I'd made a reservation, I thought. Walking through the doors, further surprises were in store, although I wasn't sure which startled me more - the amount of people or the single huge dining room. My jacket stayed on me throughout the time I was there. I imagined that, on a weekday, with fewer guests, the place must be absolutely cold! In more sense than one.

It struck me as a setting that is ideal for large celebrations, such as a wedding reception, but for a normal lunch or dinner, partitioning the hall into several smaller sections would have made it a little cosier.

They also have an open-air chill-out lounge for smoking guests or for those wanting to have a drink or two, while soaking in the views.

The problem with having a huge restaurant is that it isn't easy to provide first-class service unless your business is fairly constant. Somehow, I doubt that this would be the case here. So, even though there was quite a handful of waiting staff, I suspect, the majority of them was there only for busy periods, such as weekends.

We had to wait for a while before the maitre d' came to take our orders. He was friendly, smiley and efficient, but you could see that the staff had their work cut out for them; for the number of guests, they could do with a few more waiters, especially experienced ones.

While waiting, I had time to muse over the general feel of La Corona. For a restaurant that cost more than half a million euros to remodel, the tableware, I suspected, hadn't received too much of a cut of that budget. What I saw was more appropriate of an average sort of restaurant, somewhat lacklustre for a place of this calibre.

For starters, we ordered lamb rolls with orange strands, stuffed mushrooms and a fava bean stew. You can see the official menu (in Spanish) here.

Rollito de cordero con hebra de naranja
The Oriental influence in this dish was unmistakable. Crispy rolls with a slight tang, and no overpowering taste of lamb. Whether this was due to a lack of lamb pieces or because it was good lamb, I couldn't really tell. In any case, they were delicious, leaving me craving for more.

Stuffed mushrooms
Next to arrive was the stuffed mushrooms, which was off-menu and I wasn't sure what they were stuffed with. Might be with mushrooms and pork, so if you're vegetarian and these are offered to you, ask first. The look and taste of this dish was distinctly Mediterranean. Needless to say, they quickly vanished too.

The stew was standard fare, fairly ordinary. I wasn't particularly interested in it, so I just had a spoonful and that was it.

For the main course, we wanted the roasted shoulder of lamb, whose virtue the maitre d' was extolling. This was off-menu, too, I think, or at least, only available at the weekends. Minutes later, he returned, apologised, said they'd sold the last piece. Perhaps, the leg? Oh well, all right, the leg then.

Unfortunately, he returned again, slightly embarrassed because, even the leg had been sold out. So, a word of advice. If you fancy having roast lamb, reserve it at the time of booking for your table.

We, then, opted for rice with mushrooms, apple and foie. It was tasty enough, but not exceptional. We'd ordered two portions to share among three people, but we were left wanting a little more. So, unlike the other restaurants where we'd ordered rice, the quantity was not quite enough for an extra person.

Arroz con boletus, manzana y foie
We had room for some desserts and coffee but, in the end, we decided to head elsewhere. Somewhere warmer and cosier, perhaps.

Type of restaurant: Canarian, Mediterranean
Verdict: Recommended
Average cost: €20-30 per person
Telephone: 649 330 287