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Borda Estevet – I have a brief consultation with our hotel desk clerk about restaurants, looking for any that serve what he’d consider more traditional Andorran cuisine. Without hesitation, he’s on the phone with this stone-walled establishment, a pleasant fifteen-minute walk from the hotel. It almost feels hewn out of the mountains itself, with a rustic feel that is reflected in the cuisine…modern niceties and influences exist, but the overall impression lent by the food is wintry, hearty and deeply satisfying.

Tomatoes and raw garlic comprise a low-budget amuse, and in that form they’re definitely bracing. There’s a melon soup, cool and refreshing, with a counterpoint of intense sausages on the side. A steaming bowl of rich ceps with ham and vinaigrette is awesome and rather obviously mountainous, while vegetable soup is pure and equally alpine…though its accompaniment of cool marscapone doesn’t quite work to the dish’s benefit. However, the final course is both authentically local and truly definitive: a pierre chaude of various cuts of the most succulent beef (of a consistency and flavor closer to veal) I’ve had in years, grilled as one prefers and with a few traditional condiments as the sole accompaniments. We’re in carnivore heaven.

The wine list is mostly Spanish, with a few interlopers from the north. A digestif of something resembling an herbed limoncello is also included, but I’m too full (and, it must be recalled, still too sick) to inquire after the name. More memorable is the darkest coffee I’ve ever had outside Sicily.

It’s a staggeringly good meal at a very fair price, and the staggering continues as we lug our stretched bellies back to the hotel. (10/06)


Copyright © Thor Iverson