L’Estartit eats- Don Quijote restaurant

The winters here can still remind you of what it was like back in England, shortened constant rainy days with little to do. It’s late November and colder, we’re on the low side of double digits. 

The recent downpours have left a lot of surface water making navigating pavements trickier. Gutters have become like tributaries, but not for too long.

We’ve decided it’s time to try Don Quijote for the simple reason it’s just around the corner. We’re surrounded by a wilderness of empty tourist apartment blocks. They seem well serviced with cafes and restaurants but understandably shut until people return next season.

Perhaps Don Quijote is the last culinary outpost open in this part of town, stubbornly refusing defeat, or maybe they have nowhere else to go. I’ve walked past its low white unassuming facade a few times, noting their black A-board advertising their weekday set lunch menu, at 13€. 

It’s an uncomplicated run-of-the mill offering, unfussy home-cooked fare, keep your expectations to a minimum. Like I’ve said before, no one’s expecting to be bowled over or wowed at these prices. 

I’m as happy with a paper napkin as the next man, just don’t give me plastic cutlery please. However, we’re still mindful of the other elements that go into a visit. Things like service, the ambience, who knows we may return to try the a la carte options.

Our Thursday visit means paella dominates, as it’s a dish traditionally served on this day. I vow to find out why one day. Variations generally fall into two camps, meat or seafood, rice of course and bulked out with some veg. Quite how much meat or seafood you get is down to the chefs generosity.

For me, I like it not too liquidy and with a crusty base. Truthfully speaking paella nirvana elsewhere will cost you in the region of 30€ + per couple.

We entered and asked if our dogs were welcome, yes no problem, and were led through to their rear. My first reaction was that it felt a bit cold, though enclosed it felt more suitable in warmer times. The interior has a fireplace and I tried asking again, when they gave us a table by the front door. 

No sooner than sitting here we were then ushered to a larger table further inside, which was a bit warmer. The initial indifference had changed to a more friendlier welcome.

Given its location the place was busier than I’d imagined. No paper menu, our waiter reeled off the options, good job we’d already read their board outside. We both went for the fish soup for starters followed by the paella. 

A large bowl of piping hot fish soup duly arrived, with submerged pieces of fish, prawns and mussels. The addition of a tiny bowl of croutons was a nice touch, altogether a perfect antidote to a cold November day.

The elderly man who’d tried to relegate us to their rear cold dining area came by a few times fishing for feedback. 

Our seafood-packed paella appeared and was kindly served onto our plates. There was plenty for us two, flavoursome and filling. What with a small side salad and bread, the need or wish for a dessert became immaterial. Still, in pursuit of research we had a flan and the chocolate cake with the usual squirty cream. Nothing to write home about there.

Verdict. It’s fictional namesake would surely approve.

VFM rating 9/10

Final bill, 30€ we often go over the standard price as we have extra drinks or coffees.