conTenedor, Seville.

April 2018.

In Seville for a week, we are limited by Robin sadly breaking her foot the day before we arrived, and being here unbeknownst during the week of Feria, a 150-year-old festival full of street celebration, drunkenness, special costumes, etc.

We made a reservation at a Michelin-named restaurant for lunch today, hoping to get poor Robin over there in Uber or a taxi, but in the event neither was available so we hobbled our way down the cobblestones from our old town AirBNB to this restaurant, which happened to be the closest one. It was a pleasant surprise.

Walking in at 1:30 it’s about 30% subscribed, a deep rectangular room with chefs visible on the left, and a kind of rip-rap decor featuring large childish colourful abstract painting by a couple of artists, on one wall mounted against low-density particleboard. The hostess is a young middle-aged lady who speaks English right away that gives us our choice of tables. We sit way at the back and I only have to take out my hearing aids over the last 20% of our hour-and-a-half as the place fills up to 80%.

The wine list arrived first, and it’s long and detailed including a lot of sherry which we haven’t really had a chance to try yet. Hostess recommended a couple of southern Rhône style white blends, but we ended up with a white Rioja, the low point of the lunch because although it smelled inoffensive if faint it was in the mouth the most water-like white I think I’ve ever tasted.

Never mind. We had three dishes to share: a salad, a ceviche, and a sort of bastardized paella, and they were all creative and good.

The salad was spinach dressed with ricotta made a bit more sour and then joined with a grated Reggiano-like salty cheese. Inside were a bunch of salty black olives, a half-piece of small poached pear, and about a 1/8 slice of a roasted onion, all mixed with some sort of obscure grain. Overall impression: terrific flavour and consistency contrast, in what would appeal to every socialized north american as healthy.

Next, ceviche. Again the base wasn’t the traditional oil-and-sour, but more of a yoghurty business which was acid enough to denature the bite-sized white-fish pieces perfectly. Wilted frisee and some onion completed the tasty picture.

Finally, a fat cylinder of short dark rice was topped with soft-fried baby squid rings, with splashes of sauces around to squish the rice down into, especially a competition yellow mayo which I think had been exposed to saffron. The squid was squiddy, but the rice had been possibly partly hard-fried (or had had some other grain added) for a crispy consistency contrast to the prevailing softness. There was just a slight hint of garlic behind the natural rice flavour. Again everything fell together as tasty and satisfying.

It was all seasoned perfectly (I never had to ask for salt), and we had the quite rare experience of three consecutive dishes each really very good. Out the door for about C$110.

Food 9.2, service 9.0, ambience 8.4, value 9.1, peace and quiet 7.3. This place is a sweet minor find and so close to our front door that we will certainly be back at least once in the next three or four days.

Added subsequent: We returned. If you ever go to this place, don’t miss the duck confit with rice. It’s done with soy and exquisitely balanced and rich and flavour. The duck has been broiled to crispy perfection. With that dish, the food would be 9.4.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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2 Responses to conTenedor, Seville.

  1. John… you will have to replace Robin at her flamenco dance lesson… allow your inner gitano to rise from his languor…. get back on your feet soon and spritely Robin… oh and the tale Marilynne and I can summon to the confabulation table when remembering Sevilla!!! Cheers

  2. John Sloan says:

    Lovely. I twirl and stamp with a rose in my teeth.

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