A stunning bistro with special secrets: San Juan Creativo
Creative by name, creative by nature. That’s undoubtedly the best way to describe San Juan Creativo, a really inspiring bistro in Plaza de La Iglesia, Playa San Juan.
Run by husband and wife team, Klaus and Eva, the dishes served here turn up surprise after surprise, from the mint sauce made without mint and the toasted marshmallow lollipop which topped our dessert.
This restaurant is a jewel in the crown of Tenerife’s diverse gastronomy and a must for everyone to visit, regardless of whether you live here or are on holiday and no matter what your nationality.
Klaus is from Denmark and Eva is Canarian and both speak a number of languages, including English. If you want to share a special memory, you just have to taste Klaus’s food which epitomises creativity at its very best but naturally so rather than to make an impression.
Our first sight of San Juan Creativo was when we parked the car a stone’s throw away and walked just a matter of paces to the church square. On a Wednesday until 1pm, the plaza is jam-packed because the market takes place and it is known for people to have to queue for a table at the bistro. Eva buys her fresh roses here which we noticed straight away on the inside tables, together with the incredible pieces of colourful abstract act which are produced by an English friend and are available for sale. Just another piece of the creativity you will find.
We chose to sit outside because it was a sunny afternoon and you can do so at night as well if you wish (they even supply ponchos and blankets!) We were immediately impressed by the specials board which offered “prawn cocktail creativo, chicken breast in ginger and pear tart with blueberries” for 20 euros. The other board sounded just as tempting, goat’s cheese from Tejina with honey from Chio, salted almonds and onion marmalade (6.50 euros) which I knew straight away that I wanted to taste.
We had come slightly later in the afternoon so we could chat to Klaus and Eva and were delighted to do so. They are a lovely couple who have been together for 18 years and made us laugh several times with their stories. We quizzed Eva continuously about the secret ingredients in the various dishes and she had to pop back into the kitchen to see what she could reveal, telling us: “The kitchen is Klaus’s place. I stay out of it if he stays out of my bar!”
Klaus has been a chef all his life, having trained in Denmark for five years, working there and here in Tenerife, latterly for 15 years in a big hotel. San Juan Creativo is their first restaurant venture together and has been open now for around 13 months and is building up a very big following with lots of personal recommendations.
Klaus says he has always been creative and the bistro allows him more freedom and flexibility because he is not cooking for the masses. He often spots a new local product and is inspired by this to create a new dish.
The menu isn’t vast because of the ethos of the restaurant ie. to present very special dishes created with love and flair. There is, however, something for all tastes, whether meat, fish, pasta or salads, and if you have a special requirement such as being a vegetarian or have a gluten intolerance, just ask.
We were greeted with a glass of gorgeous home-made sangria with papaya concocted by Eva (drawing on years of experience in the hotel industry) and then enjoyed a succession of taster dishes which Klaus felt we would like. Did we! First, we devoured a plate of unusual tapas which is hugely popular at San Juan Creativo and can be a starter (three to five “small things” for 6.80 euros) or by itself with a drink if you wish. Klaus said even the Spanish come for this dish because the tapas is so different. Everything was of course home-made. Chicken pate, sweet potato chips, “the Klaus kind” of coronation chicken, slices of lightly cooked beef on papaya and green leaves, stew with white beans and chorizo, with home-made bread. Simply mouth-watering.
A prawn cocktail followed, again with a twist. I popped a huge prawn into my mouth and seconds later got the full hit of Klaus’s cooking method, apparently using ginger and other secret ingredients. They were the best prawns I have tasted. The goat’s cheese with onion marmalade followed and then a plate of sliced leg of lamb on a bed of courgettes and mushrooms with that home-made mint sauce. This was so divine that we told Klaus he should market it as “Klaus’s mint sauce without mint” and it would sell like hot cakes. Apparently, he often makes pink mint sauce using another secret ingredient.
For dessert, we shared fabulous brownies with dark chocolate and red wine syrup (6 euros) which came with the marshmallow lollipop. This was the idea of their children so it seems the whole family is creative!
Boredom is not a word Klaus believes in so the menu is always adapting. You will find specials every day with a varying degree of courses and on the main menu, such dishes as pork loin with parmesan cheese (12.50 euros) or entrecote steak (14.50 euros). All dishes come with fresh vegetables and the potato of the day. There is a big selection of wines, either by the glass or bottle, with the house wine at 11 euros and also an organic wine.
Everything is served all day (please note, the restaurant is closed on a Tuesday). The bistro opens at 9am in the morning, with the kitchen open from 11am until 10.30pm and there are a number of extra dishes for light lunches plus specials for children.
Klaus’s cooking is so fantastic that he could easily shine with his own bistro in London’s West End or any city in the world but the family are very happy to be in Playa San Juan and to be making a local name for themselves within a creative enterprise.
Please do visit, it is somewhere so different.
You can of course just turn up but if you wish to book, please ring 650 609 791 or email firstname.lastname@example.org