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Vuelve Carolina – Quique Dacosta’s Gastro-Bistro in Valencia

When in Valencia, one has the opportunity to dive into the cuisine of Quique Dacosta, without a doubt the most acclaimed chef of the region – especially since he finally managed to achieve a well-deserved third star for his flagship restaurant in Denia (in between Valencia and Alicante) for which he’s been waiting far too long. His gastronomic bistro Vuelve Carolina is located in the center of  Valencia and offers high end bistro and tapas cuisine. It is a laid back place where beer on tap goes side by side with fine wine and where people go both for ordering several course menus as well as quick tapas bites. Quique Dacosta manages to put his personal stamp on quite a few traditional tapas dishes, but also offers modern creative cuisine based on fine-dining ingredients. Another important thing to know ans probably a must-try: There are always a few “arroz” dishes on the menu. As Quique Dacosta is also known as a master for arroz, the typical rice dishes of the region, one can expect quite some tasty things there.

Vuelve Carolina bread service

There is a 4-course lunch menu available for 25 Euro, which represents a great bargain in my opinion. As I was looking forward to this for quite some time and wanted to get a broader impression , I added a couple of extra-courses to this menu.

First of all, some bread and olives are brought to the table. Along with the bread comes some delicious cream cheese, flavored with a sour kind of pepperoni. This makes for a great first nibble.

Vuelve Carolina

Yogurt foie gras with dried fruits – This first mini-course is composed of a a super rich foie gras and yogurt foam mixed with crushed nut and dried fruits. Definitely not the kind of yogurt you’d get in the supermarket. It is well executed and I like the mix of flavors. On the other hand it is a bit too foamy for my taste (I am to blame since I ordered it as an extra – was too curious).

Vuelve Carolina oyster

Oyster with Peruvian spices –  this is one great oyster: thick, slightly sweet and super intense with a very long taste. It is lying in a dressing with a mild “green” Spiciness, probably some lime. This mix probably wouldn’t work with another type of oyster with a more pungent taste. It’s those kind of details..

Vuelve Carolina sashimi

Sashimi – The raw fish again comes with a very clever acidic dressing. The fish roe have an intense salty taste and also add structure, as do the few slices of raw onion. I wish I had lunch plates like this every day.

Vuelve Carolina octopus

Octopus on potato cream – grilled octopus probably belongs to those dishes that don’t need much change or interpretation by  some creative chef –  it simply needs to be well executed. It is the case here and the team managed add a twist as the crunchy yet tender bits of octopus are lying on a marvelous rich potato mousse.

Vuelve Carolina wine list

By the way, German wine amateurs will love this: An entire page within the list is dedicated to fine German wines and prices are still decent for a restaurant of this quality.

Vuelve Carolina mini hamburger
Vuelve Carolina mini hamburger
Vuelve Carolina mini fries

Mini Hamburger – Another extra course and it makes me feel like a giant, holding these tiny little French fries in my hand. The small burger is a delicious bite with a super juicy meat patty caught within a crispy mini baguette. And 3 fries – the perfect portion, right?

Vuelve Carolina arroz meloso

Arroz meloso with chicken – Rice masters at work here. This is an arroz meloso, which means that it is a “wet” rice, made with lots of chicken stock. And it has a great chicken flavor intensified by shreds of chicken meat. On top, tiny cuts of of raw cauliflower asparagus and spring onion add the obligatory crunch that elevated a harmonious dish. Seriously, this is incredibly delicious and my advice would be: don’t leave this place without having had some rice.

Vuelve Carolina dessert

Dessert – a composition around blueberry and violet with some kind of whipped cream and yogurt foam. For my taste the cream was a bit too much, but it was equally as colorful on the palate and probably a good refresher if you only had the 3 courses of the regular lunch menu.

Conclusion: You can’t go wrong with a meal at Vuelve Carolina. I’ve had such a great diversity of tasty foods and styles of cuisine on my plates that I felt extremely well entertained. And there are plenty more tapas and dishes on the menu that I didn’t have a chance to try. I’d go back anytime!

 

Here are some more views:

 

Vuelve Carolina interiorVuelve Carolina barVuelve Carolina entranceVuelve Carolina

Note: In the same building you’ll also find Dacosta’s restaurant El Poblet (which is the former name of his restaurant in Denia) featuring the chef’s signature dishes.

For lots more reports about meals of Dacosta, I recommend Stéphanie’s blog Cookcooning (in French, but great pics as well)

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