Find a happy ending at Café Biblioteca
Why this restaurant at La Camella is a best-seller.
They say you should “never judge a book by its cover” because what you see on the outside does not necessarily reflect what you find inside.
Fortunately, the unique restaurant Café Biblioteca in La Camella does not disappoint on either account. What you will find is a beautiful interior which has obviously been a great labour of love for owners Hossain and his wife Dorothea.
The restaurant has been open for five years but they still run it with total enthusiasm and are passionate about what they do and delivering the best possible experience for their customers of all nationalities.
One evening, Hossain told us, there were ten different nationalities enjoying a meal and many of his loyal clients have been coming since Café Biblioteca opened and do so on a very regular occasion.
You can understand why. Although elements of the cuisine reflect the couple’s roots in Germany and Persia (now modern Iran), most of the dishes are original, having been created by Hossain with a European slant. Even though the restaurant is run by a very small team, the menu is extensive so you can come back time after time to try the latest dish you may have spotted and just need to taste.
Hopefully, many readers will have discovered Café Biblioteca, courtesy of the special offers which Hossain and Dorothea have been offering in recent editions.
We went along to sample what was on offer and can highly recommend a meal here as it is somewhere very different, away from the tourist area but offering the highest of standards in the most exquisite setting.
Hossain is an experienced businessman and has been in the restaurant trade all his life but he says Café Biblioteca is the best place he has opened and the one to which he has given the most love and attention.
The obvious question to ask is why the name? “Because my wife loves books,” he replies.
The restaurant reflects the look of a library but not the stereo-type of an old drafty building with row after row of shelves. Neither is it a stuffy place where everyone has to keep quiet. The interior is very cleverly designed. You do feel like you are in someone’s elegant living room with a large book display case from wall to wall at the far side of the restaurant but it is neither austere or uncomfortable. It just exudes a lovely atmosphere.
The predominant theme is wood, with beautiful tables, chairs and fixtures, shipped over from Iran especially. There are various seating areas, both on the level and on raised tiers and a glass-topped curving bar with little snug areas on which to perch before or after your meal.
We went in the evening when the lighting was dimmed but in the day, the sun floods in (though there are plenty of shady tables) and you get a panoramic view of the ocean way beyond. La Camella is the little village just past Chayofa so it is not very far away from Los Cristianos, probably ten minutes by car or taxi. You go past Chayofa on your left, past the garage on your right and Café Biblioteca is on the right just on the bend. There is always a parking space to be found in close walking distance
If you want to get a really good idea of what you might like to eat, the restaurant has an excellent website on www.cafebiblioteca.es which is available in a number of languages, including English. It is divided into various sections and you just click on them, such as starters or salads, and an explanation comes up, together with some pictures. It really makes your mouth water!
You might expect food with a Persian influence to be very hot or heavy or too spicy but this is not the case. I used the word “exquisite” on several occasions because I found this the best way to describe our dishes which came from the four-course menu which is usually the subject of Hossain’s special offers. Otherwise, choose from the main menu where the options are endless.
Both Hossain and Dorothea are in the kitchen as well as front-of-house and whilst Hossain takes charge of the main courses, his wife’s speciality are the desserts. More of that later!
I was intrigued to try the “Pan Irani” which is made by Hossain and is topped with sesame seeds and some other secret ingredients, dipped in what is described as “fire sauce” and hummus. We didn’t find the fire sauce too burning but if you want it hotter, just ask!
This was a delicious starter and opened the way to the next course of a Shirazi salad, a summer favourite in Iran because it features finely chopped ingredients such as cucumbers, tomatoes , onions etc with olive oil, herbs and topped with yoghurt and mint. It’s very refreshing and light and there are numerous variations served at Café Biblioteca with the addition of ham, tuna, feta cheese, Cous-Cous, King prawns etc. It also means there are plenty of options for vegetarians here.
Of course, Hossain uses the freshest of ingredients – they grow many of her herbs at their finca – and for some of the very popular dishes on the “specials” menu, you might have to wait 45 minutes because they are prepared then and there. Generally, however, the service between courses is exactly as you would expect.
For our main course, we enjoyed an original Iranian dish, succulent lamb fillet in a red wine sauce with fresh herbs and tomatoes sautéed with turmeric and served on a fragrant bed of basmati rice. It was delicious. You can get all sorts of Oriental rices here, either served as part of your main or as a main course in itself.
On my next visit, I will be intrigued to try a “Nanpich”, an Iranian filled bread with meat and a variety of sauces and salad vegetables and then covered with cheese and toasted under the grill. Sounds delicious! These are more of Hossain’s creations or, as he puts it, “part of my book”.
We finished with the most gorgeous, mouth-watering chocolate and mint mousse in a heart-shape with Dorothea’s signature palm tree on the plate and could have easily devoured another portion each. We already have her apple strudel lined up for next time.
Café Biblioteca keeps the same menu for lunch and evenings so you can adapt to suit both your appetite, taste-buds and budget. I would be quite happy, for instance, with one of their lovely salads and some bread but the sky here really is the limit.
Hossain and Dorothea are very happy to cater for groups and for special occasions, whether in the main restaurant or a smaller adjacent room. If you have any special requirements, just ask.
We didn’t go home feeling uncomfortably full; in fact, we felt quite righteous as this style of cooking is quite healthy with the use of fresh vegetables, rice, fruits, herbs, nuts, meat, lamb, chicken and fish. A very different experience you should definitely try.
Café Biblioteca is closed on a Tuesday but otherwise open every day of the week from noon to 11pm. You can make a reservation if you wish on 922728270 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can see the offer of the month for eating at Cafe Biblioteca on page 18.
(see also the social network sites and Tripadvisor where it is highly rated).