(9.95€, give or take a few euros depending on area and restaurant)
No doubt we have all come across that enticing menu del día offer with a full 3 course meal on offer plus a drink and sometimes coffee, too. If you’re from big cities like London and New York were the price of life and everything that goes with it is extortionate to say the least, the offer, on the face of it, will leave you gobsmacked. “They cannot be serious, how can it be?” You may ask yourself. Like a moth to a flame, you grab this opportunity with expectations high. “I’m going to try this famed Mediterranean cuisine at a healthy price – oh yes!”
The starter arrives. A cleverly named “ensalada”, which turns out to contain a nonchalant looking bit of lettuce, accompanied by tomato and a bit of tuna, perhaps some olives and onions even get in on the act. If you’re lucky, sometimes paella is on offer. Next; the big guns: The main meal. Maybe spaghetti bolognese, some beef stew with chips, some roast chicken or a fish dish. The easily impressed amongst us have already begun to foam at the mouth and that’s even before dessert has come along. Which, like all standard desserts is usually fruit, a yoghurt pot, ice cream or maybe some flan de huevo; all for 9.95€. Having dined at this distinctly uninspiring platter you may ask yourself: “Was it actually worth my money?
Of course, not all restaurants with a menu del dia are the same. Sometimes you find exceptional food, other times you find food for fuel. Having said that – the harder you search the more likely you are to find an experience worth repeating. To reduce disappointment, it’s important to understand something one person kindly put to me: “What is the deal with the menu del dia?” I had asked. Basically, as people work long hours in Spain and it’s not always possible to go home and eat, and really, food is an important part of being Spanish, the menu del dia therefore, tries to simulate the eating at home experience. So, at the heart of it, it’s as though you’d eaten at home (but with probably better food eating etiquette).
So, how can I get a good deal? Allow me to share a Cuban experience by the name of La Colonial de Huertas and its take on the menu del dia. In my books, this is a place worth a visit by the distinguished dinner that is you. La Colonial de Huertas – C/ de las Huertas, 66, Huertas
La Colonial de Huertas is a Cuban joint with a mix of vibrant heat, super fresh ingredients and a pure, unadulterated passion for the art of filling a plate. This place offers a home-grown, no frills experience with Pura the chef at the heart of all the yummy food.
It’s impressive six day a week menu includes Cuban favourites such as Arroz a la Cubana, Cuban-style spaghetti with a meat packed sauce and green olives amongst other things called picadillo and the house specialty, Ropa Vieja – a shredded beef stew in a delicious tomato sauce; oh so tender and oh so flavourful.
The weekly menu on offer follows the traditional Spanish three course mantra. Although this traditional menu is nice, for the full Cuban experience, why not try it all ‘a la cubana’ which is soft white rice, black beans, gorgeous fried plantain with fresh, meticulously hand-cut fried potatoes and your choice of meat on one huge platter. This is then followed by one of five choices for dessert which include a creamy, thick Arroz con leche or a cheesecake style flan that will seal the deal. La Colonial de Huertas – Menu del Dia A La Cubana
The basic idea behind this post is that, yes you can have a rewarding menu del dia experience that leaves you satisfied and wowed. For sure, none of what you will eat here you’ll be able to make at home with ease. So it is truly an eating out experience that leaves you feeling like money well spent.
Of course, the menu del dia is just a small part of what you can eat at La Colonial de Huertas. These lovely Cubans offer a varied menu that offers you the opportunity to fully experience Cuban cuisine. Alongside this they also have a menu de degustacion should you be unsure what to try. For the evenings, they make cocktails – mojitos included and they offer a tapas menu for you to enjoy at the bar. Rhythmic Cuban beats pulsate in the background compelling you tap your feet and nod your head. This place is more than just a restaurant, it more than just a place to eat and drink – you might say it’s a gateway to Cuban culture.
Give it a try, I’m sure you’ll be impressed.