27 F The Quadrant, Richmond. Surrey. TW9 1DN
Telephone: 020 8948 6447
Website: Don Fernando
It’s always wrong to think about dinner about 8pm, have no real plans of where to go, in an unfamiliar place, starving and slushed up with alcohol. Murphy’s Law states you will always end up at a crap place, shelling out a lot of dough for it. So this is where Saturday evening found us. So you can understand why I felt apprehensive when after wandering the streets of Richmond in near desperation, my gentle friend chanced upon this festively coloured, bustling restaurant serving Spanish food. I was bracing myself for the worst.
We were led into the restaurant which was deceptively big despite the small entrance. The place was filled with nattering voices of a happy crowd. We promptly ordered a pitcher of Sangria and tortilla chips with guacamole (£2.65). The guacamole was thick and creamy and a welcomed hunger-buster.
For mains we decided to go for a few tapas and one paella dish to share. First up was the Pate Casero (£4.50) which we ate with the freshly baked bread provided. The pate was made out of duck and chicken liver laced with Spanish brandy. I lurve pate and this was no exception.
Champinones al Ajillo (£4.25) was rather disappointing. It comprised of button mushrooms marinated in olive oil, dry white wine, garlic, paprika and chillis. I think Portobello mushrooms would have been a wiser choice as it can soak up the marinade much more.
The Caracoles Garanadina (£7.95) has converted me into a snail fan. Never thought it would happen. Twelve snails were saturated in butter and garlic, attractively presented on a special silver snail platter. Simply heavenly and gives a new meaning to those cute silver trails in the garden.
The octopus in olive oil and paprika was served on a bed of sliced new potatoes (Pulpo a la Gallega £6.95). The octopus was very tender and marinated well.
Lomo Plancha (£4.95) were grilled pork chops marinated in dry white wine, olive oil and garlic. Quite a plain dish and didn’t really enthuse the table.
The star attraction of the evening was the Paella Marinera (£13.95 per person). This was loaded with fresh king prawns, monkfish, swordfish, mussels and squid with a hint of saffron. We ordered enough for two people and it was more than enough for five. The flavours were rich and decadent. Whoever prepared the stock needs to be applauded – the full flavours from the seafood oozed through-out every grain of plump rice. The seafood had a firm bite to it….not at all mushy like some seafood paellas. A delight to savour. We were so packed to the brim by this stage, the Man and the Gentle One had to play ‘scissors, paper, stone’ to see who would win the chance to further embellish their waist-line with the final portion of paella. The Man won (unfortunately for his gout) and proceeded to lick his plate clean.
Don Fernando has pleasantly surprised me with a wonderful meal. All the more so, as it was unexpected. A cheerful unpretentious friendly atmosphere backed up with reasonable prices (we paid about £15 per head for five people) and excellent service. Perfect for a get together with a group of friends.
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