Plate With A View: Meson Juderia Vejer de la Frontera, Spain
Saturday 09 October 2004
Here's one for the unreconstructed carnivore with a seriously healthy appetite. For the rest of us, a word of warning: skip all meals after breakfast if you intend to spend an evening at Meson Juderia in Vejer de la Frontera, on Spain's Costa de la Luz. This is dining of the heaviest order and you won't make it past the appetiser, let alone get to dessert, if you have eaten in the past eight hours.
Meson Juderia is a traditional Spanish restaurant serving traditional Spanish fare: lots of meat and fish and very few vegetables. And the food is just as fresh as it is hearty in this Andalusian hostelry.
So what's on the menu here? Starters include Iberian ham - choice cuts from premium, acorn-fed porkers - fish pâté, grilled prawns, garlic soup, asparagus salad and, of course, gazpacho. Main dishes include sole, monkfish and bass with clam, cream or saffron sauces; pork, lamb and beef steaks, plain-grilled or served with gravy. For dessert, it's pretty straightforward: chocolate mousse, flan, that sort of thing. My advice: take your time and go for a stroll afterwards.
Who would eat inside Meson Juderia when they could take full advantage of its wonderful terrace? That's no criticism of the restaurant's pleasant, air-conditioned rooms, but there are few better views over this pueblo blanco, or white town, than from the top of the restaurant, especially at night (very romantic). And the generally clement weather means this can be enjoyed from early spring until well into autumn.
At the top of Calle Juderia, an alley in Vejer's ancient Jewish quarter, it's a little off the beaten track, with the silence only broken by the fellow diners and the occasional scooter. Focus on the higgledy-piggledy jumble of multi-terraced Moorish-style buildings across the hillside in front of you. A fortress since Phoenician times, Vejer's position, just inland from Spain's southern Atlantic coast, has made it strategically important for centuries. The effect is like being on a stage, looking out at an amphitheatre, except the stage is above and the audience below. Your eyes can't resist following the miniaturised inhabitants going about their business in the labyrinth of streets.
The menu is a la carte. Expect to pay €2.50 (£1.80) to €15 (£11) for a starter, €4.80 to €15 for an entrée, and up to €3.60 for a dessert. Lunchtime openings are erratic, but dinner is served every day except Tuesday.
5 Calle Juderia, Vejer de la Frontera (00 34 956 44 76 57)
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