Restaurante Los Roques, a special place to visit
It may seem unusual to use the word “cherished” when it comes to describing a restaurant but for me, it’s exactly the feeling I get from Los Roques in Los Abrigos.
You don’t have to be a wine and dine aficionado to realise this is a very special place because it is, quite simply, lovely, both in terms of its decor and cuisine.
But to be voted the fifth best restaurant in Spain by followers of the world’s largest travel information site TripAdvisor requires something extra, way above the norm. You discover this when you find Los Roques for the first time, nestled in the bay of this tiny fishing village which is very much the place to head for, whether by bus, taxi or car (it’s five minutes from Las Chafiras).
It’s hardly surprising that at any one time, 50 per cent of the customers in the restaurant are repeat business and all nationalities love it here. Many have been coming back time and time again since Los Roques was opened by owners Peter and Andrew in 2005.
Their loving care transformed what was an empty shell and it has been their meticulous attention to detail ever since which has created today’s success story. As you would expect, the food is fantastic (more of that later!) but it is the desire to please the customer, to make their visit the best possible experience, which comes shining through. After all, when you part with any sum of money, the last thing you want is to feel short-changed as can happen frequently in Tenerife.
Peter and Andrew’s formula for success does not stop here, however. Despite their wish to create perfection, it hasn’t compromised the relaxed atmosphere at Los Roques and that still takes people by surprise. Some think it might be stuffy or austere. Not so! There is no strict dress code and the caring nature of the small team shines through.
There are lots of clever touches and I loved the tartan wraps hung over the chairs on the terrace just in case the ladies feel a shiver or two (though it is sheltered and there are heaters). If you feel very comfortable, that’s not an accident either. Peter and Andrew had the tables made especially to match the height of the chairs and even the railing was custom-made so you can rest your elbow on it. Peter says it always gives him pleasure when he sees a diner do this!
The restaurant also has a policy of allocating you a table for your entire evening or lunch. There is no pressure to leave, no matter how much or little you order, and if you book a table for say 8.30pm, no other customer will be “squeezed in” like a conveyor belt. Of course, you can pop in to see if a table is available but to make absolutely sure, it’s best to book in advance.
A better location you could not hope for. In the day, you can admire the views from the terrace, with the ocean stretching out beyond and the fishing boats and yachts which sail by. In the evening, the lights of Los Abrigos sparkle and you can sit inside or out and admire some stunning sunsets.
This isn’t a huge restaurant; there are two adjoining dining rooms decorated in warm colours and a small terrace but you don’t feel on top of one another and can have a conversation without being over-heard.
Los Roques has an excellent website on www.losroq.com which will give you an indication of the food served here. This isn’t a fish restaurant though there are always two or three fish dishes on the menu, thanks of course to the close proximity of the local fish market. Many customers therefore know exactly what to expect but others can be taken by surprise.
The evening menu, for instance, features seven starters, seven main courses and half a dozen desserts. There is no huge international menu with sections for meat, fish, pasta, pizzas, etc. That’s not the style of Los Roques.
Head chef Sebastian, who has worked in New York, has been with Peter and Andrew since the start and is still passionate about his work and the dishes he creates. All ingredients are fresh and sourced locally from nearly two dozen suppliers and if you have chicken, for instance, it is cooked there and then so it’s fresh and succulent. For some dishes, it means you might have to wait a while but it’s worth it.
A particular favourite of diners is the “Beer-braised Belly Pork” which my dining companion said was wonderful. It came with its own liquor, seasonal vegetables and root vegetable mash (18 euros) Before that, however, we had enjoyed a cocktail from a very long list and nibbled at home-made cheese straws, then home-made bread with spreads, all made each day before the start of service.
All the starters sounded so tempting but we chose “Toasted French Chevre Cheese” with a walnut and raspberry-dressed bitter crisp salad (8.50 euros) and “Chicken Liver Pate” served with toasted brioche, port caramelised onions and pistachios (8.50 euros). Both were delicious and the salad was a work of art, especially with the use of flower petals.
I’m not a vegetarian but I opted for “Gado gado” (17.50 euros) for my main because I loved the sound of this traditional Indonesian vegetable dish which featured crunchy vegetables topped with a thick peanut sauce, served with rice and a boiled egg. Very unusual and very tasty. All the plates are beautifully presented.
Decadence took over for the puddings as we delved into a mouth-watering “Baileys Ice-cream Truffle” (9 euros) and “Palta”, an avocado and lime sorbet on an almond biscuit with a thyme-scented white chocolate sauce (8 euros), a Los Roques classic. “Yummy” is one of the descriptions on TripAdvisor which says it all.
We were lucky enough to return for lunch on another day when the “Cafe Los Roques” menu is very different with salads, breads, cheese, hams, mojo sauces, fish and sea-foods, meat dishes and desserts making up the 20-plus choices. I enjoyed a really excellent “Chargrilled Chicken Breast” in a wrap accompanied by home-made chips and barbecue sauce, both of which were simply divine (12.80 euros). My companion loved her “Hand-made Fillet Steak Burger with chips” (also 12.80 euros). Once again, we over-indulged with home-made ice-cream with a chocolate brownie (seven euros together).
Quite a few people were popping in for a spot of lunch and Peter and Andrew feel there is a different atmosphere in the day than in the evening. I agree but both visits were equally as enjoyable.
It’s the caring nature of the owners that if you turn up and feel the menu isn’t quite for you, they totally understand and will try and point you in the direction of an alternative restaurant. Likewise, they want to hear all about your experience and if something isn’t quite right or if you would like a dish more spicy or with any ingredient left out, just ask.
Los Roques also offers a tasting menu of five courses for 38 euros or seven courses for 59 euros per person. You don’t have to spend this sort of money though. Some people come in and share a starter and then have a main course with a glass of wine ( a meticulously-sourced wide selection is available, including the very affordable Flor de Chasna from Arico at 13 euros). Others have a lovely meal for around 30 euros a head. Others spend more. You can tailor what you have to suit your budget and there are dishes suitable for children.
Los Roques at Calle La Marina, 16, Los Abrigos, is open for dinner at 7pm Tuesday to Saturday and for lunch 1pm to 4pm Tuesday to Sunday. Telephone 922 749 401, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also TripAdvisor for more than 300 reviews.