Wednesday, May 20, 2009

O Dezaseis
Rua de San Pedro, 16
15703 Santiago de Compostela
Tel: +34 981 564880

While researching for my trip to Santiago de Compostela, I came across a New York Times review of O Dezaseis (which means 16 in Galician, I think) singing the restaurant's praises. According to reviewer Mark Bittman, not only was the place cheap, but the quality of the food was incredible. Being a traveller who tends to stick on the budget side of things (that's $$ and below for those of you used to Frommer's ratings), that naturally appealed to me. Best of all, I could make reservations online, thereby confirming I had at least one good place to eat prior to arrival in SdC.

O Dezaseis is located on Rua de San Pedro, a large street near the Porta do Camino, called thus because this is the 'gate' through which all pilgrims on the Camino will pass through when arriving in SdC. It wasn't too hard to find, given that all I had to do was walk for about eight minutes from my wonderfully located hotel.

Upon arrival, I found that I was the first customer of the night. I'd made a reservation for 8.30 pm, not quite being able to get accustomed to the fact that most Spainards tend to eat dinner at 9.30 pm or later. It's just not something I can cope with, though, of course, if I started taking a siesta every afternoon, perhaps I could get into that habit.

Anyway, I didn't mind too much, though I do hate being the centre of attention, and that sort of thing tends to happen when you're a) the first customer of the night, b) obviously not their usual sort of customer and c) alone. That being said, my table ended up being in a nice, cozy corner of the main room, right by a disused fireplace, so I was hidden away from the rest of the restaurant, but could still be seen by the waitstaff in the event I needed anything.

Now, down to the tedious yet joyful task of deciding what to eat. I do love my food, but I can't eat that much (fortunately), so I settled on a glass of albarino (white wine from Galicia) two racions: empanada da casa (stuffed pastry, and recommended by my hotel) and polbo a grella (grilled octopus), both of which are specialties of Galicia. The latter was highly recommended by Jon, a CouchSurfer with whom I met up on my first day in SdC, and whose blog led to my deciding that I would give Casa Marcelo a shot.

The empanada turned out to be filled with tuna and pimentón (Spanish paprika). I thought the portions were a tad small, but it was delicious nonetheless.

The polbo was, in a word, fantastic. The generous serving of octopus consisted of four tentacles which had been sprinkled with pimentón and grilled on a plancha (an extremely hot metal plate). I felt a little guilty realising that I was consuming half of an octopus, but the moment I put a sizeable, meaty steak-like piece of octopus in my mouth and tasted how awesome it was, my regrets vanished.

Empanada da casa (€4.60)

Polbo a grella (€9.80)

I told you it was steak-like.

I struggled to finish the octopus. I really did. But I somehow managed. Then a waiter came over and asked if I would like a dessert. I hesitated for the briefest of moments, and thought, heck, I'm a female, and we always have room for dessert, no? So, I asked the waiter for his favourite dessert and ended up with a creme caramel cake with hot chocolate sauce which was utterly divine. I think I devoured it in double quick time!

Creme caramel cake with hot chocolate sauce (€3.60)

The meal was then finished off with a digestif of orujo which is local to Galicia). The waiter ran me through the four different kinds of orujo, including a colourless one ("white"), one with toasted herbs, one with herbs and a fourth I can't recall. I asked for the least strong kind, and was given the one with toasted herbs.


As it was served in a shot glass, I asked whether I had to down it. His response? "For you, no. You drink slowly. Me, I down." Heh. Given my face was rather pink after the wine, they were probably worried I'd pass out in the corner and they wouldn't be able to go home! So, I took my time with it. It reminded me of sambuca, as it was a little on the sweet side. In fact, I found it almost sickeningly sweet, and doubt I'll be taking it the next time I'm eating in a Galician restaurant.

Anyway, with my meal done, and my digestif finished, it was time to pay. My bill turned out to be just about €20, with the orujo having been on the house! What a great price for such a substantial and incredibly good meal. This having been the same day I ate at Casa Manolo and the day before I was to have lunch at Casa Marcelo, I recall thinking to myself, "how on earth am I going to eat so much food?!"

Well, I obviously survived the gastronomical paradise that is Santiago de Compostela, and without putting on too much weight. I guess the impromptu decision to hike to Mount Pedroso earlier that day balanced out all of the calories I took in!

1 comment:

Jonathan Shock said...

Glad you got to try the pulpo from there. It's really the best place for grilled octopus I've found in Galicia.

The orujos do vary a lot from place to place and not all of them are so sickly sweet. The cafe liquor is also very sweet but makes a nice after dinner drink.