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If you are Iooking for a special but typically unique “olde worlde” Spanish restaurant in a fantastic location read on. So many Spanish restaurants have now lost what everyone expects of a typical Spanish country restaurant – but not Verdi Vent.
It took the husband and wife team of Loretta and Stephane (who are German and Belgique respectively) to recognise this some 11 years ago and who turned a 300 year old semi derelict Spanish farmhouse into probably the most successful and memorable dining experience to be found anywhere on the Costa Blanca – and it doesn’t cost a fortune!
So come with me on one of the prettiest journeys of the Valencian Region to the Jalon Valley and the small typically Spanish town of Jalon/Xalo (yes like many towns in the Valencia area the town has 2 names – normal Spanish and the other Valenciano). From here take the scenically stunning twisty road in the direction of the Bernia and its mountain range. The scenery is quite breathtaking and the drop to one side a little scary (if you choose to look over the edge!). After about 7 kilometers we arrive at the small hamlet of Maserof with just a few very old properties – the first of which is now a country museum (whose history is a fascinating story in its own right – perhaps I will tell you about it another day). This area is rural with a capital R. No mains water or electricity. But don’t be put off!
Almost next door you might pass this building by without a second look as apart from a small insignificant sign saying “Verd i Vent” it looks a bit like a very old not very inviting farmhouse. Park in front of the building avoiding the rocks and climb the steep steps with a chain hand rail and enter through a rather flimsy doorway. You are immediately transported back in time. This converted goat farmhouse retains many of its original features. Once your eyes become accustomed to the gloom there are barrels of wine; exposed stone walls; barrels supported on beams sticking out of the wall presumably in time gone by for storing wine and olive oil; hooks in the old walls for tethering animals; an open log fire in the cooler months with a small cauldron of warm potato and herb salad; original hand made terracotta stone floors; a minstrel’s gallery where the farmer and his family slept. It takes you back decades and you wonder how life was then…
Having been warmly welcomed by Loretta and shown to your table in one of the several distinctly individual dining rooms you will find there is no menu as such – just an interesting 5 course meal which follows much the same format every day with slight variations. The only choice is with the main course where you can have local shoulder or leg of lamb usually with herbs and honey from the surrounding mountains cooked in the oven or the choice of one other excellent main course dish which changes regularly. On your table will be a bowel of peanuts in their shell plus large carafe/s of local Jalon red wine which get automatically filled up by the attentive staff as they empties – all included in the set price.
Without wishing to spoil the enjoyment of experiencing this great value meal a typical meal would be warm potato and herb salad with local rustic bread; a large terrine of superb home made vegetable soup for you to serve yourself as many times as you wish; an interesting mixed salad and dressing which changes regularly; roast shoulder of lamb in herbs with vegetables; crepe with a marmalade sauce and of course as much red wine as you want. To finish off there is a complimentary glass of sweet Muscatel dessert wine also local. Coffee and mineral water extra. This excellent meal will cost you just about 17€ a head – really good value by anyone’s standards.
But before we leave another lovely touch that adds to the atmosphere – an excellent Spanish singing guitar duo originating from Colombia who wander the restaurant playing and singing a wide range of Spanish music (and taking requests).
If you are looking for a plush, swish, modern restaurant, then this is not for you. However if what you what is excellent, quality rustic food and wine in surroundings that will take you back a century or two then this is the place of you.
Home made produce is for sale and local artists display their works of art for sale.
Open all year just for lunch times. Closed Tuesdays. This year they are also for the first time opening some evenings in July and August.
Verdi Vent is just inland of Javea, Moraira, Calpe and Denia. The area is excellent for walking or just taking in the views; an interesting donkey sanctuary is nearby with many rare donkey breeds; the Country Museum is almost next door; on Saturdays the famous rastro market is spread along the river bank at nearby Jalon down below.
This restaurant is a must for anyone visiting this part.
Costs for the all inclusive meal around €17. Book early to reserve a table (and only have a small breakfast before going!).
Telephone number (+34) 96 597 3413.
write by Duncan