Malaga Tapas – Tener Cosas Buenas Y Malas

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malagaAfter seeing a favourable review of Malaga Tapas I decided to give it a try. I was a bit disappointed when I looked at the restaurant’s web site to see that it was still advertising their Valentine’s Menu, almost seven weeks after the event! There was no information as to what was on the present menu, apart from Tapas, of course. Maybe the reviews would give a hint but, sadly, the hyperlink to the recent Sunday Herald review didn’t work. Not a good start. However it was the restaurant and its food and atmosphere that I was wanting to try, not their website.

We managed to book a table for two for 8:30 on Saturday evening and, as hoped, the place was bustling when we arrived. The friendly staff left us standing just inside the door as they searched for a table. We didn’t mind having to wait a few minutes for a taxi to arrive for those currently at our reserved table. However it would have been good if someone had offered to take our coats, offer us menus to browse, or even provide us with an apéritif.

Our hard working, enthusiastic and friendly half Spanish/half Scottish waitress showed us to our small table by the window allowed us to soak in the atmosphere of the place and it was clear that most of our fellow diners, including a number of families, were regulars to this little corner of Andalucia in Pollokshields.

We quickly decided to try the set meal for two (£26:95), accompanied with a bottle of Rioja (£18:95) and some iced tap water (gratis). The restaurante pequeño is owned by the Chef Guillermo and his business partner Cristobal, who runs the front of the house. Cristobal took our order and explained in some detail as to what ingredients were in the various salads included in our Set Menu. We chose a Ensalada de Garbanzos, a refreshing Chickpeas salad with coriander, mint, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.

The arrival of an unexpected, delicious amuse-bouche was a nice touch, although three bite-size portions, for a table of two, may lack a little attention to detail.

Various waitresses filled our small table with our dishes served in the small, traditional, terracotta Cazuelas. As well as the salad, which surprisingly was served half way through our meal, as was the waitress’s enquiry as to whether we wanted some bread with our meal, the meal included: Patates Bravas; Champi Ajillos; Pollo a Ajillo; Cordero en Salsa; Croquettes de Pollo and Gambes Gamberdine. The fried potatoes in hot salsa were fine; the mushrooms sauteed in olive oil with garlic and chillies were delicious; unfortunately the chicken hadn’t been sauteed in roasted garlic oil as described in the menu but placed in a dish containing the oil, the chicken portions on the top of the dish being bland , whilst those covered in the oil were much more flavoursome; the simmered lamb in white wine sauce with onions, ginger and mango fruit, although sounding superb was in fact very disappointing with the lamb being very dry and obviously not cooked in the sauce; the traditional chicken croquettes made of a light béchamel with large chicken bits and minced onions, golden deep fried also failed to live up to expectations with their being devoid of the promised ‘large chicken bits’ and the croquettes being slightly burnt rather than golden; the King Prawns lightly coated with beer batter were not served with the Chef’s special recipe: cumin seeds and lemon garlic mayonnaise as promised but with a dip resembling sweet and sour. The chickpea salad, exceeded expectations, its freshness and flavours indicating that it had been freshly prepared.

Our café con leches (£2.25) could have been served a little hotter but by this time the service had deteriorated, as the majority of staff now concentrated in clearing out the restaurant in preparation for the next day’s business. I finally managed to catch a waitress on her way to the kitchen and to get la cuenta but she then disappeared and it took a while before another one appeared and I could finally pay the £50.40 bill.

The evening was to end on a high though when the head waitress presented us with a voucher to receive, no less than, 20% off on our next visit, as long as it’s within 8 weeks. Given that we had already decided to return to see their resident Friday night Spanish singer this was a pleasant surprise but they do need to get some other things right as well if it is to become my Andalucian local. In the meantime, I’ll brush up on my Spanish.

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