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A la Colthard/ Eslava, Casa Robles, Flamenco Show

At Bob Tickler’s suggestion I flew out for a couple of days. I have always been a fan of Spanish cuisine in general and Andalusian in particular. They have exported the concept of tapas to the shared platter and at its best and Eslava is the best it’s as imaginative a cuisine as you will find and eat anywhere.

Bob had spoken highly of Eslava. We arrived there yesterday at 12-20 to find it closed but a queue of 20, mainly Orientals, outside. By 12-45 every table had gone and the bar area was overcrowded. We ordered the cigarro, cod and algae wrap with an aoli sauce, not unlike a spring roll in texture and simply delicious as well as the egg on a caramalised mushroom shortbread which had won justifiably a Sevilla food award.

When Valerie ordered sardines, the helpful waiter explained that these were not fresh enough and suggested red mullet instead. With a plate of Iberian ham and the Sanmorejo creamy gazpacho, a glass of Sangria and two of iced few wine, Tintos  de Verrano, the cost was 25 euros per head.

When it comes to award-winning restaurants the critics tend to admire the colossally expensive but Eslava  is every bit as good as any of them that charge 15 times the price. The waiter explained the owner started next door with a more formal menu and has never been ambitious to expand in the city or even globally. It made me think of another restaurant, 64 Degrees, which was imaginative but whose larger London operation failed quickly. Though the service was prompt we did not feel we were being rushed through the meal to free up the table. My only reservation was the orientals occupying 90% of the tables were all on their mobiles. A lack of discourse between diners creates less atmosphere, you need the buzz of conversation. The food at Langans does not compare but there you have an atmosphere generated by tables of noisy footballers, B-list celebrities and the odd lothario going about his business!!!. To be fair, I should say there were many Spaniards in Eslava too.

After this and with the sun sizzling at 34 degrees we all needed a siesta. We regrouped at 6-30. Our flamenco show began at 9.00 and Bob had already reserved Casa Robles near the cathedral.

The food here, Iberian Ham and fried anchovies was also excellent.

Bob sighed when the dreadful singer he had encountered a few days at a cafe near the Alcazar place resurfaced.

He clapped his hands and broke into loud tuneless song making any conversation impossible.

Although the Flamenco venue was just 5 minutes by foot Bob did not want to pit himself against Sevilla’s labyranthine streets and suggested a taxi. We soon realized that having been ahead of the queue the taxi driver was disapointed by a small fare and took us down to the river and a most circuitous route costing 8 euros. Bob needed some calming down but it’s scarcely just Sevilla taxi drivers that use this trick.

The show comprised 2 singers and a guitarist dressed in black and a female and male dancer. The male singer clearly never ordered media ration (half portions) as he had a significant spare tyre to go with his mournful voice.

The lady dancer had a pained anguished expression as she made her move and looked a dead ringer of Lorraine Chase.

The sound of clacking shoes on the wooden floor created a right old din. I enjoyed the show but flamenco can get monotonous quickly and an hour was enough. We all enjoyed a late night drink when the air is cooler. Because of the late hours they keep Sevilla buzzes and you feel secure as the streets are full. It’s just the place for a naughty weekend with a matador!!!

Daphne Colthard
About Daphne Colthard

After graduating at RADA but finding no roles Daphne went into magazine journalism with Good Housekeeping. Widely recognised as one of the country's leading restaurant and hotel reviewers, particularly by herself, Daphne is the author of "Bedded and Breakfasted", a light hearted chick novel and Grand Hotels DC: the Daffers Dictionary. Daphne lives in West London and is married to an investment banker Oliver. They have 2 boys Humphrey and Tarquin. More Posts