Would you plan your holiday around one restaurant? Emily gets inspired and flies to Spain to try out one of Europe’s best value Tasting Menus.
I was sitting on my sofa on a chilly Spring evening when my cousin started sending through photos of the food he was eating.
“Where are you?” I messaged back, ready to press “book” on whichever London restaurant he was frequenting. The photos kept coming – something veloute-esque with some parmesan type crisp on top, another that looked definitely like a lobster tail, an arty slate with some salted butter swirled upon it, a rich looking cut of lamb atop some melt in the mouth potatoes.
“35 euros” was all he messaged back.
A flurry of emojis later, I was tracking down Codigo de Barra online. Easier said than done – even the bookings are done through a simple Facebook page. However I would do whatever it took… including building my next holiday around this one recommendation.
Two months later, my fiancé and I arrived in Cadiz. We’d built a little Spanish break around my obsession with visiting this little gem. We had flown into Malaga first where we hired a car and drove South, bypassing Gibraltar and swerving up to stop in a tiny town called Zahara de Los Atunes. Merely a filler on the way to Cadiz, this turned out to be one of the highlights – a tiny and unpretentious few streets, it’s packed with the freshest red tuna you’ll find in the country. The beach here stretches for miles and seafood is fresh and exceptionally priced.
We drove to Cadiz the next day, staying in the old town close to the harbour. The streets are small and packed with shops and cafes. All the guidebooks note that this bustling city has been largely overlooked by tourists yet its food, buildings and culture can certainly give Seville a run for its money.
Before dinner, we walked along the seafront before settling in for a G&T in one of the many squares nearby. Ensure you order at least a small tapas with any Gin offerings in Spain otherwise you’ll be cross eyed before you’ve even reached your restaurant – think fish bowls and a ratio of 1:2 gin to tonic.
Codigo de Barra is not fancy. It overlooks a square packed with locals, orange trees and old ladies, and its frontage doesn’t have a maître d’ or damask white curtains. We’d booked a table but it’s not essential except at weekends when it’s highly recommended to avoid disappointment. The ‘Ideas Kitchen’ clearly operates on overtime and is fuelled by the passion of the owner and chefs.
The rumours are true, a tasting menu here is 35 euros. Yep, that’s 8 or 9 courses for less than a single main in some London eateries. The waitress asked us whether we’d like to match wines to the menu, adding apologetically that this would be “17 euros extra”. There is no doubt in my mind that this place is serving Michelin star quality food – thus the prices seem entirely out of kilter. Enjoy it – and get the matching wines, you’ll sample sherries you’ve never tasted before, delicious reds and surprisingly good dessert wines.
I couldn’t find out a whole lot about the dishes we’d be having beforehand – and I’m glad it was largely a surprise, so I won’t detail each here. All I can say is that for real foodies, the restaurant is worth a trip to Spain alone, the discovery of Cadiz is an exceptional extra.
A few texts and one recommendation of a restaurant led to a fabulous holiday and one of the best meals of my life – take that as inspiration and build something big around whatever gem you see.
If you want to get in touch with Codigo de Barra, the best means of contact is via Facebook.
Plaza de Candelaria Numero 12 duplicado, Cadiz 11005 / +34635533303
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Images © Emily Eaves for TWOP