So! What is one of the most asked questions and most talked about aspects of a holiday? One of the things that can potentially make or break a trip?
Don’t know? Well for me it’s the food! if you have good food and good wine it can really influence your feelings on the holiday, like wise if you get a bad meal it will colour the rest of your experience and how you relate this to your family and friends back home.
A good mate and my self have recently returned from Arinsal in Andorra set deep in the Pyrenees between Spain and France where we were skiing for the week. This area of the Pyrenees is quite heavily influenced by the Spanish Catalan culture, especially its food, so Liam and my self decide to try the local dishes and went for a “traditional Catalan meal”
Restaurant “360” from the out side is very unassuming, looking more like a café than a restaurant, inside it looks more like the restaurant its billed as with a classy looking and comfortable interior with way more space than the exterior shows.
|The View from the terrace at Restaurant 360 looking down the resort of Arinsal with the Pyrenees in the distance|
On entering you are greeted by the waiter if though somewhat surly looking is actually quite friendly and informative. You also see the kitchen area directly in front of you on entering a sort of open plan and glass screened area where the chef smartly attired in a black jacket is busy working.
So to the food, the menu – for me at least! was as follows
Toasted French bread topped with roasted peppers
Pan-fried belly pork on a terrine of cabbage mash
Pan fried trout with local vegetables
Apple Tarte-Tatin with cream
For drinks we had a bottle of the house red.
So the Aperitif- this was simply presented with a balsamic reduction that was very complementary to the dish as a whole. The roasted peppers were surprisingly served cold, chilled in fact! Where as I expected them to be warm, slightly oily in texture they were full of flavor and a distinct taste of assorted herbs. With the balsamic reduction – a feature through out the meal- went well with toasted bread which was essentially a toasted slice of baguette.
The starter of pan-fried belly pork and the cabbage mash was simply a strip of pork laid over a round flat “mash potato” I say mash as it was more like crushed potato with a trace of cabbage and a little something extra that I couldn’t quite identify. The pork was tender and full of flavor and not to salty as some lesser quality meats can be for this cut. The cabbage didn’t overwhelm the flavors’ so there was a good even balance to the different tastes.
|Pan Fried Pork Belly with a Cabbage Mash from Restaurant 360|
Main course- the pan-fried rainbow trout served with a selection of vegetables and a new potato! The trout was served headless but on the bone. The vegetables were pretty non descript- a little on the soft side for Al’dente but otherwise OK. A single new potato was served as well- personally I would have liked more potatoes maybe herb roasted new potatoes possible with a hint of garlic!! But that’s a personal preference. The trout was the main part of the meal and was very well cooked, the skin was crispy but not burnt and the meat itself peeled away from the bone with little effort the flesh was a beautiful pink colour and firm but not difficult to separate from the bones. It could have maybe had an additional 30 seconds cooking but certainly no more than that. The earth flavor of the trout with the balsamic reduction- obviously a favourite of the chef’s choice in garnish, again showed that it made a nice contrast to the delicate earthiness of the trout against the sharp contrast of the balsamic vinegar.
|Pan-fried trout with vegetables at Restaurant 360, Arinsal|
Now the desert, I have to say that this was a bit of an anti climax and probably the most disappointing aspect of the meal. The Apple tarte tatin- a French classic and one that separates the men from the boys in the kitchen. Overall the desert was “nice” but not exceptional or amazing in any way, the apples were not sharp but it wasn’t over sweet. The pastry was a little tough- a side effect on puff pastry that is chilled and re heated. A small cone of what was obviously a can squirty cream accompaniment was not enough. I would have expected a Chantilly cream or a creme fraiche and in greater quantities as a companion to this classical desert.
|Apple tarte tatin- a French classic at Restaurant 360, Arinsal|
My overall impression is that this was a good meal and worth the 20€ price per head, especially as it came with glass of house red where the waiter ended up leaving us the bottle. The wine it self of Spanish origin was not to dry and a great accompaniment to the meal. Regretfully I didn’t get the name but being a more local Spanish wine rather than a mainstream export so your much more likely to get a wine of good report than relying on the larger wine producers and staying with the known same old names.
This was our second meal here and was definitely worth the 2nd visit. As a whole the service was quick enough to make you feel that you were not waiting to long but not rushed despite the waiter having 3 other larger tables in at the same time. I would recommend (and did in fact do so to other skiers in our group) a visit to 360, and more importantly would go back again myself.
360 is situated on the main road through Arinsall, less than 100 yards from the gondola to the pistes . Its right next door to the Hotel Ayma where we stayed so not a difficult place to find.