So the first thing I had to do when writing this review was to try to remember where I went. Fadó Irish Bar and Grill. In Benalmádena, which is a difficult enough place to remember the name of.
It was a gloriously sunny day. Hey, England, you still reading? All 8 of you? And I don’t mean this version of England:
Someone told me that Benalmádena was beautiful. She wasn’t even English. OK, she’s Scottish and used to punch me at work, back when physical violence was a normal HR procedure. To be fair, I was a nobhead, and it was friendly, if painful.
And Benalmádena, which is almost as difficult to spell as broccoli, does have its beautiful moments. At sunrise. And sunset. But even Slough looks pretty during a sunrise – as John Betjeman once said, come friendly bombs, but not during sunrise or set.
I guess the Spanish once said, come friendly Englishmen/Irishmen, bring your shitty bars and make them look like they fell on BelamamdmenanmemdndmemANNDNMDNAHMMMMMDMAMDMAMDMAMDMAHMMMMMMM. Belanmadean. Benalmoderna. Ballerenamoden. Hmmm Benalmdma. It isn’t fit for Spanish now. There isn’t grass to graze a cow, though it’s 23’C in November so what do you expect. Swarm over, Death! Ouch. Harsh.
Anyway, I’m here.
Yep, near Malaga. If I was in London, this is normally the point where I bang on about how fucking stupid the government is, but I’m in Spain, so I shall moan about the Spanish government.
What? There is no government? You had an election in July, and still there is no government? Puta madre. Lucky puta madres.
Can you tell I had a few beers in the sun? I’m glowing and I’m jealous of Spain’s lack of government. Apparently, old Cruella in the UK has decided that homeless people should stop being homeless.
Yep. Stop choosing to be homeless, just go get a flat because in a country with a shortage of 4-5 million homes, it is really that easy.
How dare anyone be homeless? How dare anyone sleep rough in an area where someone might slip them a fiver to get a can of beer or two? How dare anyone do such a ghastly thing as offer them a tent?
Hang on…I’m homeless. Does she hate me too? Albeit I’m choosing to live in an Airbnb in Spain, instead of a tent. See, if I can do it, then all homeless people can do it. Cruella is possibly onto something.
Speaking of public cruelty, I decided to ask my followers which of the delightful-sounding places I should get a roast dinner from:
Luckily for me, they chose Fadó Irish Bar and Grill, which was were I was intending on going no matter what the vote, as some of the photographs on Google Maps looked half-decent. I stress, half-decent.
Also Google Maps was useful in navigating, as there was no visible sign of where I was going, though the offer of “craic” made me assume I was in the right place. Or at least in one of the 86 Irish pubs in Benanananenenenenwhatever.
Emperor Gravy Is Waiting
I walked in and announced that I needed a “roast dinner”, this after 4 beers in the sunshine, plucking up courage to go to a very different type of venue. Clue – I don’t look like I ever go into Wetherspoons and a FILA t-shirt has been nowhere near where I live, on me or any visitor to my home…at least when I had a home.
I am not a natural customer of an Irish pub in the Costa Del Sol. Some of the customers here would likely refer to me as “woke, remoaner twat”.
I managed to resist ordering the craic, a brusque Irish fellow found me a table, then asked me what pint of bland lager I wanted – to which I asked for the wine list.
“Tempranillo, or rioja”.
“Which is the best?” I asked.
A large glass of rioja, for something silly like €3.50 turned up a few minutes later. It was half-decent wine too…I’ve had worse wine for 5x the price in London. Oh Europe,
we…48% of us love you.
And yes, you read correctly. €9.00 for a roast dinner, or €11.50 for a mixed meat selection, with pork, turkey and lamb. I eschewed the beef, as it seemed like the kind of place that would really overcook it – though I eschew beef in many places in London unless I think they have a really top-notch chef.
London Wants Me Back
“Gotta get it through to you, London wants me back”. This is actually my 4th roast dinner in a foreign country this year. Almost like Roast Dinners Around The World is becoming a thing, and I’ve not even had to get Netflix to fund it.
My roast took around 10 minutes to arrive:
I was a little surprised about the lack of vegetables, but we had two types of potato, so I thought well, maybe that’s just an Irish thing, or at least an Irish thing in Benalmamamamamiamwoke – it isn’t like I’ve been overwhelmed with vegetables anywhere else in Benalmádena. Plus there is a chive.
So, starting with the roast potatoes which were a little dry and tired – the quality of the potato didn’t seem amazing, which is perhaps a Spanish thing. Maybe potatoes grown here don’t make as good roast potatoes? Having only two was a blessing.
The mash could have been creamier in an ideal world, but was soft it if a tad lumpy too – more pleasurable than the roasties, especially with the gravy, which was more than sufficient.
Oh, and then 5 minutes later, this arrived:
Sufficient vegetables to share between two. And this all cost just €11.50.
Love In The First Gravy
So the carrots were soft and fell apart on contact with a knife – I have to say that I prefer a bit of crunch myself, and very much prefer roasted to boiled/steamed, but I was perhaps more overwhelmed with emotion for actually getting some vegetables.
The broccoli, was also soft, you probably won’t be too surprised to hear – either boiled or steamed to semi-destruction.
And then the cauliflower cheese, was, yes, pretty much close to mush, with a creamy and slightly cheesy sauce that seemed to have been applied on top. You can tell just how mushy things were by my photograph after moving some of the veg onto my plate:
The Yorkshire pudding was actually really good – twice I’ve had really good yorkies in Spain this year, which is probably about the same as I’ve had really good yorkies in London all year – and I’ve had 37 roast dinners in London this year. Soft and fluffy inside, with a hint of crunch around the top, and mercifully fairly small. This was a delight.
They’d cooked the lamb rather well, which sounds more complimentary than I mean it but it was fairly hearty to taste, if having been roasted for longer than I’d prefer.
I didn’t especially notice the different between the pork and the turkey, the turkey slightly fresher of of the two, though with the combination of gravy, stuffing and these two meats – there was little to discern between them in terms of flavour.
The stuffing was banging, if I’m allowed in 2023 as a Brit to call something Irish “banging”. Oh well, nobody will read this guff anyway. Golden edges, proper sage and onion stuffing flavour – as good a piece of stuffing as I’ll have. Really rated this.
And the best part of the roast? The gravy. THICK. Thick and meaty, perhaps with the influence of granules but not overtly so – it was gravy as you’d get it in a pub in the north of England. It was almost more viscous than the vegetables. Behold the joy of thick gravy,
Fadó Irish Bar and Grill in BenamamamamamamdnandnandaMANb…ananaramadama
If you are snobbier than me, which is definitely possible, then Fadó Irish Bar and Grill’s roast dinner probably won’t be for you, but then again you won’t be going to the Costa Del Sol either. Darling.
But on the flip side, there are many people out there that love this kind of roast, especially on the Costa Del Sol, and I suspect I may have actually found the best roast dinner in the area.
Sure, there were problems. The roast potatoes were pretty rubbish, and the vegetables were boiled to mush. Yet the stuffing was banging, the yorkie was delightful and the gravy was proper thick, Yorkshire-style gravy.
I’m hesitating a tad, but I think this is the best roast dinner that I’ve had in a forrin cuntreh, albeit only my 5th review outside the motherland. I’m thinking, given the glorious gravy, it is good enough to squeeze a score of 7.20 out of 10.
Before you walk away…
Other places to eat in Benalmadenarama
If you’ve been following my Roast Dinners In London Twitter account (yes I still call them Opal Fruits too), then you’ll know that I’ve not exactly been enamoured by the food in Benalmádena, or surrounding areas.
But there are a few gems, and a couple of decent places. Let’s start with the decent places.
I cannot stand it when a pub/restaurant claims to have “the best roast dinner in London” – like fuck you do. I’ll judge that, anyway.
So when a restaurant suggests from its name, that it is merely OK, then I’m intrigued.
Predictably Restaurante OK was better than OK. The menu wasn’t anything outstanding – this is Britain by the sea here, with a portion of Ireland as part of it (chill out…not part of Britain, just part of this area). I don’t recall seeing any vegetarian options, bar fries, it was basically just different types of meat, with different types of sauce, and your choice between two types of potato.
The entrecote was recommended by both of the really quite charming service staff, so I plumped for their recommendation.
It was a whopping side steak, if not the best quality steak in the world (certainly not below-average though), and it could have done with the fat rendering a little, but broadly it was good, plus the Spanish-style potatoes (so I was advised) came with bits of bacon, and the peppercorn sauce was plentiful.
Considering my disastrous restaurant search in Malaga that afternoon, this kind of made up for it.
This was a very basic, yet very charming Ukrainian restaurant – apparently there is a little Ukrainian community here, and that includes from before the Nazi scumbag’s major invasion in 2022. Sorry, attempted major invasion. Screw you, loser Putin.
So Restaurante Prosvita is very basic, but replete with sunflowers, cheap outdoor seating and table covers from Zaporizhzhia. The lady running it is from Kyiv, and I just wanted to hug her – she really could be your new adopted mother.
They had Ukrainian beer, which was pretty similar to most eastern European pilsner (lets not think about the stout which I bravely ordered despite not liking dark beers), or I could have had a pint of some average Spanish lager for something ridiculous like €1.50.
I ordered two dishes, one was Solianka, which was a hearty broth with sausages and pickles, albeit over-adorned with dill.
The second was chebureks – fairly similar to empanadillas, but much larger, and the meat inside was a bit soft and gooey – lacking much flavour. So I wouldn’t order them again, but there was a raft of dishes that looked really tempting, and had I been with a few people, then there was plenty to share and try.
Well, that’s the two places I quite liked, now for three places that I really liked – though two of them are for their choice of beer alone.
I cannot say that I had high hops for good beer in Benalmádena. “High hops” – geddit? It was accidentally spelt wrong too. Anyway, I was walking along the promenade on my first day, walking past various Wetherspoons-In-The-Sun types of bars, even one called Wetherspains, sigh…they do like a very badly named bar here, when I saw a sign for Belgian beer.
Curious, I walked up some steps to find a pleasantly designed space, with nice chairs, 12 different Belgian beers, some seats in the sun, and a view of the sea. What wasn’t to like?
Run by two friendly guys called Al, and Mika, Al Mika became my go-to spot, a place to have some decent beers, in the mid-afternoon sunshine and read my book about the coalition government.
My happy place.
Birritas en Latita
Birritas en Latita is the craft beer place that you really wouldn’t expect to see in Benalmádena. I haven’t taken a photograph – it isn’t particularly photogenic, except for the rather amazing range of beers in the fridge inside – and Ivan, the guy running it, knew exactly what I was asking for.
Also with 12 draught beers on tap, indoor seating for about 8-12 people, outside for many more – it’s a tiny little place inside, just in a very ordinary shopping/bar arcade, and were it not for Google Maps and the ability to search for “craft beer”, I would never have ventured inside.
South Beach Restobar
Sharing the same gorgeous views that Al Mika does, I only went here because I was sat in Al Mika, browsing Google Maps to see what South Beach Restobar offered, and I saw the words “Yorkshire pudding” on their tapas menu, and had to go.
Their beer selection isn’t bad either, though my miscommunication meant I ended up with an Elvis Juice, when I’d asked for a Hazy Jane – and hearing that the Hazy Jane wasn’t available until 7pm (eh? Also it was 8pm), I’d ordered a Leffe and somehow an Elvis Juice was brought out. She was possibly the only hot Spanish woman in the whole of Benalmádena…damn me and my crap attempts at hablar Español. Strong Sangria game too.
I ate here twice, and quite possibly a third time before I leave – once I ended up with two forms of croquettas, not realising that “hake bites” would also be fried. Such is life.
The tuna & potato salad was a delight, but the Yorkshire pudding filled with braised beef and melted cheese was just utterly gorgeous when I had it. I’m definitely having another before I leave.
By some way, South Beach Restobar provided the highest quality food in Benalmádena that I found. Inventive, pretty, flavoursome yet welcoming.
I’m going to try one last place, I think, on Friday called La Carretilla, before I head to Malaga for a week. It’s not their fault, they often go to Malaga.