22 November 2010
I love Dehesa. I've been here a few times now and it's been excellent each and every time. Having to book in two hour slots is a bit frustrating, but even with a largish group on my last visit, two hours was plenty to eat ourselves silly and to enjoy a huge variety of the menu.
Starting with arrival – once you get in the door past the ever hopeful last minute drop-ins who crowd the doorway, it's cosy, friendly and welcoming. I prefer to sit at the bar or at the back, finding the long tables near the front a bit impersonal and lacking in privacy but have had a couple of good meals there too so can't really complain. Dehesa is particularly welcoming on a cold night – with golden light, warm wooden tables and a bar that shouts, “have a drink, you deserve it”.
Servive is generally good, mostly friendly and very efficient. Which is particularly appreciated if you've been told you have to leave by a certain time.
But it's the food that I love. Even the simple bread and aioli is incredible with the bread fresh, lightly toasted and with just the right amount of olive oil. And it just gets better from there. I always have to order a portion of the courgette flowers, goatscheese and honey for myself as I am simply too selfish to share. On the meat dishes, the pork belly with beans is a classic and while rich, is absolutely delicious and if you like your meat pink ( I do) the onglet is suberb. I've had duck here on previous visits but I think it was a smoked version. Nonetheless, it was fantastic and I have no doubt the roasted duck currently on the menu will be as good.
A salad of aubergine, walnuts, tomato and goats curd went done extremely well on my last visit, as did the squash ravioli.
Of course, the ham is not to be trifled with. I admit to balking slightly at paying £13 for a plate of meat, but it's generous and whether you go for that or the cheaper version, it's delicious. Similarly, the cheeses are fantastic and the quince jelly (or whatever it is) perfectly accompanies it.
And then dessert. I can only swoon. The chocolate and hazlenut cake is simply heavenly while if you like fruit desserts, you can't go wrong with the grilled figs.
Total cost seems to vary a lot depending on amount of alcohol consumed and number of people – I find the large the group, the smaller the bill per person. I've spent as little as £30 a head and as much as £45. But every time I've come away feeling it was money well spent and that it was worth every penny.