Some of the most interesting restaurants in Valencia are found outside of the Old Town in the trendy neighborhood of Ruzafa (Russafa). This is where Ricard Camarena, one of the most well known chefs in Valencia, chose to open his third Michelin-starred restaurant. Ricard Camarena Restaurant opened in July 2012. A few months later that same year, he opened Canalla Bistro just around the corner on Carrer del Mestre Josep Serrano.
Our Catalan friends Miki and Mariangels S’Agaro recently visited us in Valencia. Since they also live in Spain and eat plenty of traditional Spanish food, we seized the opportunity to try something creative and new at Canalla Bistro.
More casual than Camarena’s namesake restaurant, Canalla Bistro is a great place to try the creations of a Michelin-starred chef at mid-level prices. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. The rustic industrial decor includes acoustic egg crate foam on the walls, which we appreciated because the low noise level in the room made for easy conversation despite the restaurant being full and lively. There is also a bar area at the front of the restaurant where you can sit for a cocktail or order from the menu.
The menu is eclectic and fun, featuring cuisine from all over the world including Mediterranean, Asian, American and Mexican. With such a wide variety of options, we decided to go for the Menu Compartir (Sharing Menu) for the whole table, which included seven dishes and two desserts. Here is what we were lucky to enjoy for our lunch that day:
Salmon crunchy cone (Cucurucho crujiente de salmon): crunchy little cones filled with salmon tartare and topped with a spicy avocado puree. I could have eaten all four of these myself, though my companions would have fought for them. I see that they are available on the regular menu for €2.80 each (mental note for the next visit).
Artichoke salad (Ensalada de alcachofas): tender baby artichokes in a creamy Japanese dressing with a nice smokey flavor.
Fried garlic shrimp: this plate was simply listed as fried garlic shrimp on the English menu, so it was a nice surprise when they arrived as chopped shrimp in crispy little empanadillas.
Spicy red tuna tartare (Tartare picante de atun rojo con arroz de sushi template): delicious fresh chunks of bright red tuna that you stirred into the warm sushi rice after it arrived so the tuna stayed cool and the rice warm until ready. The subtle spice left a warm tingling in my mouth while waiting for the next plate.
So, here is where our server really won our hearts. Our next dish was not included on the tasting menu, but the idea of having a New York Katz deli-style pastrami sandwich in Spain was too much for us to resist. We had to have it so we asked for a pastrami sandwich to be sliced into 4 pieces to share. The server thoughtfully considered our request and decided exactly where it should be inserted into the tasting.
Kat’z-style pastrami sandwich (Croqueta de Pastrami estilo “kat’z”): The sandwich arrived perfect cut into quarters for us. The rich housemade pastrami met our expectations and even got the approval of the New Yorker in the group.
The server then arranged for our last three dishes to be reversed in order with the vegetables served last. With the addition of the pastrami, he felt that we might fill up quickly. If we were too full to finish the last dish, we would only be missing out on the vegetables. It was hard to argue with his logic.
Mexican taco with oxtail (Taco Mejicano de rabo de toro): Beautiful tortillas, like dense little corn pancakes, filled with incredibly flavorful shredded oxtail. So glad we didn’t save this for last.
Steam bun with Beijing pork (Bocata al vapor de cerdo Pekin): the chunks of pork in these sandwiches were moist and tender, overflowing from a light springy steamed bun. By now we were starting to fill up, so it was going to take a lot to impress us further.
Vegetable tempura (Tempura de verduras ligeramente picante): an interesting mix of vegetables which included zucchini, broccoli and eggplant were tempura fried and tossed in a flavorful dressing with black sesame seeds. I guess we weren’t too full to finish it after all.
Dessert: Ice cream of Ferrero Rocher and Textures of Chocolate. Okay, that Ferrero Rocher ice cream sandwich thing was darn tasty. Thick ice cream was sandwiched between layers of crispy wafer. The Chocolate Textures was a bowl full of chocolate treats in the forms of creamy pudding, crumbly cake, light airy mousse and cold thick ice cream.
Overall, the food and wine were stellar, but what really left a lasting impression on us was the outstanding service. Our beer and water arrived magically within seconds of asking and the wine wasn’t far behind. All of the food items were well timed. They were able to anticipate our needs without seeming intrusive. Personally, we all felt that €26 was a bargain for the quality of food and service that we received. This is a place that we will return to again and again.
Carrer del Mestre Josep Serrano, 5 46005 València
+34 963 74 05 09
Hours: 1:30PM – 3:30PM, 8:30PM – 11:30PM