My second review of this restaurant and return time around it’s even better. You know when a restaurant’s just got it all – from the moment you take your first bite, immaculate service, delicious wines and gorgeous weather. Translate all of that to Spanish and you have El Almacen. The places oozes charm and above all has a real sense of Jerez lifestyle. I’ve fallen in love with this city so many times, yet each time it’s managed to surprise me. El Almacen is a relatively hidden restaurant just off the pretty Plaza del Arenal and while the locals know it very well, the tourists haven’t quite descended on it yet. Hopefully they don’t either because I want this place all to myself. Weather permitting (and it always is in Jerez) take a seat outside and people watch, but be sure to step through the doors and venture inside for a drink or two, the place has a lovely atmosphere.
The best way to start a meal here at El Almacen is with a good bottle of local red Cadiz wine – preferably chilled if the weather is at 40 degrees+ and with a plate of patatas bravas. I’ve had this dish many times in my life and rarely does it surprise me – but the depth of flavour of the bravas sauce, the intensity of the spice and the pure crispness of the potatoes succumbed me to being at mercy with this dish. Price wise our lunch for two with a bottle of wine cost us around 30-40 euro If I recall correctly. Food and drink in Jerez is very cheap. Not only do the prices shock us just about everywhere in Jerez, but the quality is consistently high no matter where you eat.
This single, very high quality grade anchovy has some serious flavour under its belt and while a single portion on a plate may look small, it’s really all you need for such a big hit of flavour. I also loved the cod fritter with a wasabi mayonnaise, a flavour sensation and perfectly cooked.
Things got even better as we moved into the more substantial courses – I didn’t even think it could get better than it already was. Fried aubergine drenched in romesco sauce was on an epic scale – not only its portion size but the flavours were absolutely divine. We came back a second day too, just so we could try this same dish drizzled in honey and it was just as satisfying. Jerez may not know how to do Michelin star dining, but they know all about flavour and ingredients.
The star dish here was one which is common throughout Jerez and always looks rather ordinary, but is always far from it – Iberico pork. The pork here was no short of extraordinary and while it may look like nothing, it is everything. From the medium rare centre, to the crisp oily flavours, crunchy outer and texture so tender and chewy you begin to even wonder if it was even pork. I’ll never look at British pork the same way again.
Sadly we never got round to dessert, but with yet another delicious meal planned for the evening, we had to skip it. Dessert in Jerez however isn’t really a big thing, so never feel disappointed – it’s all about the savoury. With another trip already in the pipeline for the later in the year, this is one restaurant I really can’t wait to return back too. If you’re look for quality ingredients, lovely staff, delicious wine and all at a bargain price then head the El Almacen – it will be the best thing you ever do on your visit to Jerez.