Last night we headed to Marchena, a town about 20 minutes east of Moron, to an Argentinian restaurant called La Tranquera. Tranquera specializes in grilled meats and many of the menu items are delivered to your table on small coal grills. The menu is extensive with various appetizers and salads to start off with as well as 3 pages of meat options organized by type. There were 10 of us so we got to try many different things on the menu. A few of the guests had been to La Tranquera before and had ordered a mixed grill which consisted of 4 – 5 different types of meats and sausages grilled at their table. This time everybody ordered an a la carte dish and was very pleased with their choices.
As with most Spanish restaurants there are green olives and bread on the table when you arrive or delivered shortly after you sit down. It’s important to know that most Spanish restaurants (at least those in the Andalucian region) tack on about 1 – 2 Euros to your bill for these items, regardless of whether or not you eat them. It’s customary, so enjoy your light appetizers since you’ll be paying for them anyway.
We all started with the provoleta, a dinner plate-sized portion of fried provolone cheese. The Spanish love their olive oil so the cheese was slightly oily but very tasty. Joe and I ordered the regular provoleta and our friends ordered the provoleta de la casa (the house provoleta) which had more seasonings and some thinly sliced bell peppers on top. Both were delicious!
Next we were served our patatas, another dish the Andalucians take very seriously. 3 different types of potatoes were served to our table: patatas fritas (regular fried potatoes, which in this case were rounds sliced slightly thicker than potato chips), patatas fritas provencal (the same fried potato chips but with a provencal seasoning of tarragon, thyme, sage and garlic), and patatas mixtas (a small metal pan of large chunks of fried potatoes with a tomato ketchup and Spanish aoli sauce drizzled on top).
At this point, despite the fact that we weren’t very hungry anymore, our entrees were delivered. Joe had wanted the “largest and best tasting” steak on the menu so we ordered the “muy sabor y muy grande bife” the bife de chorizo. Chorizo is typically a red garlicky sausage but in this case we were served a 500 gram (1 lb.) forearm sized, tender cut of beef, cooked perfectly medium rare. It’s sometimes important to remember that Europeans cook their beef a little on the lighter side so if you prefer your steak medium, you should order medium-well. This steak was not seasoned with anything but it’s own juices and the olive oil they cooked it in and it needed nothing else. It was tender, juicy and perfect in its simplicity.
Some friends ordered a solomillo de carne en vaca de champinones (a beef sirloin with mushroom sauce). This item wasn’t on the menu but they asked for a pork sirloin steak to be made with beef instead. This steak was also about 3/4 of a pound and served with a creamy mushroom sauce on top.
Most of our other friends ordered meaty and juicy full rack beef ribs which were done perfectly well.
Vegetarians may have a hard time finding many things to order of La Tranquera’s menu but meat eaters will love this place.
Drinks can sometimes weigh your bill down as the Cokes and Bottled Water cost 1,50 Euro each. The tinto de verano (summer red), a light red wine spritzer sometimes made with Lemon Fanta is a nice addition to dinner at only 1,20 Euro apiece. The restaurant also had a large selection of various priced wines, some starting at only 9 Euros a bottle.
Each couple ended up spending about 50 Euros (about $75) and got either a bottle of wine or numerous glass beverages, a provoleta appetizer to share, a potato dish and 2 entrees. Nobody left hungry!
The service was quite good considering it’s sometimes minimal in Spain and there seemed to be only one waiter serving the entire room of people. We arrived at 9:30 PM, with reservations, which aren’t necessary unless you have a party of 6 or more. By 11:30 PM when we left the restaurant was packed. Our waiter was kind and patient with our varying degrees of Spanish and helped us to decide what to order. He checked back with us often and our food came out in a timely manner.
We will be returning to La Tranquera again. Grade – A