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Fan-fantastic at Cabana Bambou! 

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Yet again we bring you news of a really fantastic restaurant, this time in the heart of Playa de las Americas but not in a glaringly obvious location unless you know where you are heading.

Cabana Bambou is run by French chef, Fanfan with the help of Nick who is from Hungary and quite simply, it is a shining jewel waiting to be discovered. Once you do, you will want to return time and time again as customers of all nationalities can testify.

We first met Fanfan a few months ago and sensed straight away that she meant every word of her ethos and restaurant slogan of “food cooked with love”.

Not surprisingly, therefore, we were anticipating great things as we planned to spend a few hours or so getting re-acquainted and of course to taste “the proof of the pudding”. Our expectations were totally surpassed, especially as a professional plancha had recently arrived from France so Fanfan can create sweet and savoury crepes (more of that later!)

Cabana Bambou isn’t a big restaurant, having more of a bistro appeal with a lovely courtyard area outside and arty decor inside should it be cold. It is open every day except Tuesday from 1pm through to midnight and there is live guitar music and singing each evening from 7pm, courtesy of Spanish and Argentinean artists which really adds to the atmosphere. It’s not unheard of for Fanfan or Nick to take to the little stage, though this is as far removed from karaoke as you can imagine. It is quiet, beautiful music to make your evening extra special.

The printed menu on the tables gives details of the “food made with love” which includes omelettes filled with delights such as smoked salmon or prawns with salad and bread (from 4.95 euros to 7.95  euros), unusual salads like French salad with warm goat’s cheese (7.95 euros) or Focaccia Caprese, flat bread with mozzarella cheese, Spanish ham and salad (7.95 euros). There are no bigger plates, so to speak, as Cabana Bambou runs a rather unusual system in that you just have to ring in the day before and order what you want, whether it is for a couple, family or celebration. The night before our review, a party had enjoyed paella and tapas and were thrilled.

Tapas has a constant presence on the menu and blackboard with about 14 choices for 4.50 euros each but a really good deal is to have six different dishes between two for 25 euros total, with free salad and bread.

For the traditionalist, you can find Russian salad and Canary stew but that is where the “ordinary” factor totally ends. Fanfan has a natural flair with food and has devised tapas which fuses modern cuisine with modern ingredients, using only fresh produce and using a different batch of olive oil for each dish.

This isn’t a restaurant where you see all the tapas in a cold counter waiting for you to make your choice. Once you order, Fanfan cooks everything from scratch which means Cabana Bambou isn’t a place to pop in and out of. This is particularly refreshing as there are so many restaurants willing to take your money without putting in the effort your hardearned cash deserves.

What it also means, however, is that you do have to wait for your meal. That could well be between 20 and 30 minutes but life is supposed to be unhurried here in the Canary Islands and sometimes it is good to make yourself slow down, relax and chat, including with Nick as both he and Fanfan are multilingual.

Everyone without fail says the wait is worth it and we totally agree. The aromas coming from the open-plan kitchen heralded the arrival of gorgeous tapas such as garlic prawns cooked in Pernod and white wine, mussels in white wine with fresh vegetables, chorizo in red wine with garlic, hake with courgettes and aubergines in white wine and a mild curry paste, garlic mushroom flambéed in Southern Comfort, clams in brandy with chorizo and a crunchy mountain of salad with strips of Serrano ham hiding underneath goat’s cheese, onions and tomatoes drizzled with home-made balsamic vinegar with a fruity flavour. You can have the tapas all in one go or on a phased basis.

Each and every dish was divine and it really made us feel like coming up to street level and dragging people in to share our praise for Fanfan’s cooking which she obviously adores. She is self-taught but has secrets gained from a Michelin star Palace Hotel in France from years ago when her father was a friend of the chef and has always cooked like this at home. In fact, it is very much as though Fanfan considers each diner as a member of her family and wants to do the very best for them.

We ended our meal by asking Fanfan to cook us a crepe each, one containing flambéed apples and raisins, the other drizzled with honey. A crepe with sugar costs just 2.50 euros and three euro for chocolate, honey and fruit so this might become a habit you don’t want to break. There are many other choices, including Nutella, hot chocolate made with real chocolate, brown sugar, lemon etc or go for a savoury filling of your choice. These pancakes are not tiddlers, either. They might start as circles but end as big folded squares and are great value for money.

Fanfan puts as much effort into some of the drinks as her food and we would certainly recommend the Chupito shots made with fresh coconut and rum and by all accounts, the Sangria is pretty good too! We would have tried all of them had it not been for driving.

So where is Cabana Bambou? As a starting point, it is about two minutes walk from the Safari Centre fountains. Walk across the road towards the blue Mediterranean Palace. Then turn right and go down the smaller road with the side of the hotel on your right. The restaurant is opposite underneath the reception of the Royal Gardens and adjacent to Dr Saffiedine’s eye clinic (ie lower floor below street level). There is a car park at the end of this road but if you can’t find space, it’s worth spending a few euros extra and parking underneath the Safari Centre to save tempers fraying.

If you would like to talk to Nick, please do ring 697 865 871 (you can even have a meal delivered if staying nearby or have a take-away). Remember, you can pre-order a special requirement, whether it be steak or chateaubriand as an example or discuss a meal for a party or celebration. Watch out too for details in the Tenerife News of tapas theme nights coming soon. As Fanfan would say in her native French, “bon appetit!”