Spanish Stories: Lunch at Las Cuevas, San Miguel de Salinas

Las Cuevas is a restaurant like no other. Situated in an ancient subterranesan cave dwelling dating back to the 1500s, the building is an attraction itself. The fact you can share an excellent meal there is a bonus!

On arrival, having only asked to see the menu, we were immediately invited inside to have a look around if we liked. The kind waitress showed us not only the entrance and first couple of tables but led us throughout the entire restaurant. She showed us each unique setting in its own little alcove, and explained how this was originally two caves knocked together. The restaurant is much bigger than I expected but its all very authentic and cosy feeling.

Back in the 1500s the locals struggled to source building materials, discovered they could carve into the soft rocky land and began to craft themselves shelter by digging into the rocks with hammers. The result was 17 caves housing families of as much as 14 people, sharing food, warmth and family life in front of the fire, with nothing but curtains for privacy where doors should be. Only 6 of these caves remain today and Las Cuevas Restaurante are recreating that family atmosphere for all to enjoy.

After a quick squint at the menu we agreed to stay and eat. The warm welcome we received as guests definitely helped us make up our minds! 

Lunch at Las Cuevas is a set menu for €25 and includes a mix of traditional dishes to share as starters, with bread, your choice of main, dessert and any beer, wine, water or coffee. Pretty decent value in my opinion. Intrigued by it being poured straight from tap on the barrel, I shifted quickly from bottled water to red wine! An excellent choice if ever I made one, and I dont usually drink wine.

Our starters included traditional spanish meats, prawns and a carafe of gazpacho - a cold tomato soup of Andalusian origin. Las Cuevas' version was made with melon and packed with flavour. While I enjoyed the taste of the gazpacho, I have to admit I really just wanted to heat it up! 

Our main courses were an absolute delight. Gordon chose the BBQ spare ribs, which were enormous, and served with side salad and home cooked chips. His initial complaint of them being quite fatty was dismissed when he found the mass of meat hidden underneath! 
My baked cod was served on a bed of the loveliest, creamiest mash potato with  perfectly roasted Mediterranean vegetables and spinach, complimented by a sweet tomato jam.

Dessert was thankfully kept light with crêpe, vanilla ice cream and a topping of your choice. Of course we both went with chocolate! It left us comfortably full and feeling rather pleased with ourselves.

We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon lunching in the caves with the sun beaming in. In fact we both agreed it was one of the best experiences of our trip to Spain this time. For 25 euros each I really couldn't fault the food or the service in any way. The evening menu is a similar style with a slightly dearer price (35 euros, I think) but if you're after a lighter bite to eat they have a new tapas bar just around the corner - I'll be hunting this out next time!

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