This restaurant is on a busy high street in Badajoz, located near the border between Spain and Portugal. There is a display of meat and seafood behind a counter on the left as you enter, with a quite large dining room to the right. The decor is unusual, with a display of stars perhaps reflecting the “Galaxia” name. The room could easily double as a 1970s disco with minimal adjustment.
We tried a selection of the starters. Iberico ham was enjoyable, though of course there is no real intervention from the kitchen here except to slice the ham. Similarly, a plate of Padron peppers from Galicia were pleasant, served warm (11/20). Tuna tartare lacked much in the way of seasoning but the tuna itself was fine (13/20). On side plates were bought-in bread rolls that felt stale and were remarkably hard in texture. At a pinch I think they could be used in a medieval siege weapon as a projectile to batter down some castle walls. Only someone anxious to visit their dentist urgently would have tried to bite into one.
This was the point in the meal when things started to go awry. Artichoke with shrimp sounds harmless but quite bizarrely came with a slice of warm supermarket cheese, like one of those cheap US cheeses that are used in some burgers. The cheese itself was salty and crushed any other flavour that may have been present in the squid and artichoke. The squid itself was at least not too chewy, but this was borderline inedible as a dish (8/20).
Worse was to come. Stir fried seafood with monkfish, prawn, hake, garlic and chilli and a little cured ham sounds pleasant, right? The reality was monstrous. Grotesquely overcooked fish pieces were accompanied by stiff, hard pieces of ham. If you could make it past the rubbery prawns and even more rubbery fish then there was a little pool of buttery garlic sauce at the bottom, which at least tasted of garlic. Even a hungry cat would have angrily sent this dish back (4/20).
Artichokes and tiny shrimps were better, but that is hardly much of a challenge. The shrimps were tiny and only a bit overcooked. The artichoke was not peeled very well but at least was cooked to a vaguely edible consistency (10/20). This was more than could be set for a laughably awful Spanish omelette (tortilla). If you were hoping for something like the lovely version at Nestor in San Sebastián then you would be in for a grave disappointment, as if you ordered a Ferrari from a catalogue and a Soviet era Trabbant turned up instead. The egg was undercooked and somehow contrived to be watery in texture, mixed in with what seemed to be cooked ham. This was absolutely dire (5/20).
Retinto is a breed of beef from southern Spain near Cadiz. We tried a rib cut ordered medium rare but arriving more medium. The beef itself had decent flavour but had a lot of sinewy, stringy bits to cut through. If you made it past these to a piece of steak then this was fine, and on its own might be 12/20. However, on the side was a plate of abominable potato chips that were soggy and could actually be folded in the manner of origami. Folding the potato crisps into exotic shapes would pass the time as you wait for the bill, as by then we certainly didn’t fancy exploring the culinary skills of the kitchen pastry section.
With just water (and a solitary small glass of beer) to drink the bill came to €67 (£57) per person. That is an awful lot of money for food that, the ham aside, ranged from deeply mediocre to extraordinarily awful. Spain has some very good ingredients, and it is a shame to see them squandered by the kitchen here. Incredibly, the dining room was busy on this Thursday lunchtime, and it is listed in two respectable restaurant guides. What is the level of the other restaurants in town that drive people here? I really struggle to recall a worse restaurant meal than this anywhere. I’m not saying it is the worst restaurant on earth as I have not been to every single one of the others, but it would certainly be a strong candidate based on this meal.