The seafood restaurant Canabota was opened in late 2016 by Juanlu Fernandes. At this centrally located restaurant you can sit at the counter and watch as the chefs prepare the fish and cook it over a charcoal grill. There are also some tables with barstools, but being next to the culinary action at the counter is more fun and more comfortable, so bear this in mind when booking. As you enter there is a display of fresh fish and shellfish, including on this occasion a huge grouper displayed in the window. The langoustines and lobsters were very much alive and moving, so there was no doubting the freshness of the shellfish. The tiled floor meant that noise levels, even at this Tuesday lunch, were quite high as the restaurant filled up - my phone meter measured over 80 decibels regularly, which meant having to raise your voice to talk to the person next to you.
There was no printed wine list but there was a cabinet of wines and sherries at the far end of the dining room, so you could wander up and see what there was. This included a few quite serious wines, such as Krug NV champagne at €210 compared to its shop price of €186, suggesting that markups are pretty kindly. However surely it is easier all round to just print a list with prices on it?
There was a cover charge of €1.50, though this did seem to bring a nibble of a little bowl of cold fish soup with lemon foam, onions and seaweed. This was harmless enough but didn't do much for me. The first dish we ordered from the menu was a plate of white prawns with sliced mushrooms, the raw prawns having quite good flavour, the mushrooms less interesting (13/20). Hot fish soup with tempura rockfish and vegetables was flavoured with some gentle spices. The stock was fine, though it seems odd to me to have a crisp tempura and then dunk it in soup, rendering it immediately soggy. The fish was fine but surely would have tasted better on the side, and the spice level could easily have been higher, at least to my taste (13/20).
Those live langoustines were simply grilled over charcoal and were excellent. The shellfish was lightly cooked and took on a smoky note from the charcoal - lovely (15/20). We then had a fish called corvina, which usually means sea bass in Spanish (the waiter’s translation) though the term seems loose enough to potentially include some other fish such as croaker or drumfish. From its shape the fillet was clearly from a huge fish, and the waiter reckoned the weight of the uncooked fish was a massive (33kg), meaning that it was croaker rather than what we would call sea bass in English. It had a pleasing, deep and almost meaty flavour and was served with a choice of either Swiss chard, Padron peppers or boiled potatoes. It was unfortunate that two of the three pieces that arrived were cooked on the outside but raw in the centre, and had to be sent back to be finished - oddly the other piece was fine. Once the fish was properly cooked it was lovely, as was the Swiss chard in particular (15/20).
For dessert, lemon tart was really a deconstructed creation, with lemon meringue and a crumble, which was very pleasant and had reasonable acidity (13/20). Even better was a smooth chocolate parfait with excellent hazelnut ice cream (14/20). Coffee was fine. Service was friendly, the waiters speaking some English. The bill came to €59 (£52) per person with a glass of wine apiece. If you shared a modest bottle then I presume that a typical cost per head might be around £65, though in the absence of a wine list with prices that is a rough estimate. Overall, although the dishes were a bit uneven, I enjoyed the experience at Canobata. It is fun to watch the chefs in action, and the quality of the produce is definitely high.