To celebrate the end of our stay in Sant Carles John took me out for dinner to La Rapita.
It is the restaurant we went to on our last night here in October, having not noticed it before then on account of its’ being located at the boring looking end of the big square. Through the window it looked very posh, with black leather chairs and tables set with full cutlery and glasses on crisp, white tablecloths, but had been our last night and we decided to blow the budget. It was only when we went inside that we noticed the fiberglass trees. As we were the only customers, we might have backed out at this point had it not been for the welcome we received. The place was being run by a very attractive young couple, he was in the kitchen and she was front of house. She was bubbly and full of enthusiasm. She had been to England and worked there, but it was over a year ago and her English was now not so good. It did not stop her from chattering away to us, constantly glancing at him when she needed a word. This he smiled about, but did not offer help. He invited us to sit wherever we wanted with a sweep of his arm and headed off into the kitchen. We chose a table for two under the nearest tree. The trees were leafless and painted dark grey and black; they formed irregular columns dividing up the tables. The spreading branches were cut off flat a couple of inches short of the ceiling, metal lanterns dangled from some of them. Our tree sported an electricity socket in a knothole by John. He could have brought his laptop had he known. Aside from the oddity of the trees it was all very smart and prided itself on serving local produce. Our waitress recommended choosing from one of the four set menus, each involved a range of different seafood starters, followed by a rice dish, followed by deserts and coffee. We were pleasantly surprised by the prices, which our new friend assured us included a bottle of local wine, red or white. We chose a mid range option and a white wine, which was so pleasant John took phone photo of the label. We also ordered bottled water.
Our expected sharing platter of the range of different seafood turned out to be a big bowl of steamed mussels accompanied by a warm bread roll. Delicious. Well, never mind about the anticipated prawns and calamari, that was perfect we thought. Then out came a large plate of calamari, this really was a feast. Once we had cleared the delicious plateful, it was followed by a platter of razor clams. Oh dear, we had not realized these had been a possibility and quailed a bit at them. Despite growing concerns about the amount of food in prospect, we accepted more warm bread to ease their passage. They tasted much better than they looked, but it was nevertheless a struggle to get through them. Perhaps we had ordered a five person option and they had been too polite to say. Our waitress did not seem too polite, she eagerly asked as to how our food was, between whisking one plate away and bringing out another, peppering these enquiries with anecdotes about herself and the chef. Her English seemed to be coming back in leaps and bounds. Finally the amounts grew smaller, with a slate of grilled prawns, followed in due course by one of small fried fish. Then came a lull. We breathed again, feeling very full. Just as we were on the point of trying to order coffee our hostess appeared trundling a small wooden trolley with two dinner plates and a paella on board. Nor were to be spared desert, we “have to have the nougat ice cream, it is his specialty, it is wonderful. No, you would not want to share once you have tried it. Best have one each, it is ice cream, will slip down.” It was excellent. A cube of delicious chewy ice cream topped with the merest film of caramelized sugar and chocolate drizzles. Then came coffee. At that point it had to be espresso. When we came to pay it had indeed all been included in the set price, even the water. So was service, they had to be pressed to accept a tip. We staggered out with that post turkey dinner feeling of never wanting to eat again, ever. Nevertheless we had promised to go back on our return to Sant Carles.
So last night was the night. Nine o’clock, early for Spain, so once again we entered an empty restaurant. This time there were three staff, the handsome chef, a fierce looking older lady, who disappeared into the back as we arrived and a nervous looking waiter. No girlfriend. Once again he invited us to sit wherever we wanted and we sat by our tree. The waiter came over with the menus and this time we ordered the cheapest option. John lobbied for the second cheapest, but I was pretty certain this involved razor clams, which decided the matter. The wine was the same, the bread rolls still warm and crusty, out came the bowl of mussels then the calamari. Then hustling through the door came our girl, hurrying into the back as she took off her jacket. Next thing we knew she was at John’s shoulder. She remembered us, she had said to her boyfriend, the chef, that she knew that boy and girl. We were flattered into shyness and did not correct her English. By this time another couple had arrived, so she left us to our waiter and bustled off to serve them, but she returned to plead the case for the nougat ice cream again. This time I had lemon sorbet, which was also good and thankfully small, but John had the nougat and was rewarded by nods and smiles. He let me try some and it was still yummy, but I would not have been able to comfortably manage it. It had been another lovely evening. Despite eating from the smaller set menu we were still very full and marvelled at our previous capacity. We have promised to return in July.