A Valencian friend suggested we try out Restaurant La Utielana, if we’re interested in authentic, delicious and affordable Spanish cuisine. Yes, indeed. Very interested.
After today’s mascletà, we made a beeline for Utielana, and found that it definitely lives up to its billing: extremely easy on the pocket book, and the most cozy, fun restaurant we’ve patronized since arriving in the city. It’s extremely popular with locals, which is always a good sign, and tucked away on a side street, so that — as a foreigner — you get that giddy feeling of sharing in a secret tip.
How popular is it? Well, take a number (literally) and be prepared to wait, especially at lunch time. The place is small, and commandeered by a fleet of portly, grandmother types, who are sweet enough to warn you if you accidentally order ’brain’ off the menu.
And the food was fantastic. I started with garbanzo bean soup, followed by garlic-fried chicken, and Juergen had cheese (yup, just cheese), and a schnitzel as his main course. We split a bottle of the dangerously affordable house wine. Our only complaint was the desserts, which we ordered off a menu provided by Nestlé. Over-priced, and they gave the meal its only inauthentic touch.
The atmosphere in the restaurant is best described as bustling. The few waitresses are constantly running to-and-fro with plates and bread, every table is packed full, and the kitchen is open, so that you can watch the over-worked cooks do their thing.
And once you’re done eating, you can relax and take your time to leave. You won’t be rushed out the door by the staff, though the anxious and increasingly angry glares from the people queuing might encourage it. But go ahead, sip your coffee. Smirk at them — you’ve earned it, and there’s nothing they can do.