Where to Eat in Benlloch, Castellon? Restaurante La Bodegetta.

Olla Belloquina

Olla Belloquina

Over the last couple of years I have often found myself in `La Plana Alta´, the area of Castellon which includes the towns of Vilafamés, Les Uséres, Vall D´Alba, Cabanes, Pobla de Tornesa, St Joan de Moro, La Torre d´en Domenech and Benlloch. The reason is often related to the vineyards and bodegas of the area which have recently formed their own wine route and following visits to one or more of them, often after an early start, a hearty lunch of traditional local food is very welcome.

Each of the towns has its own bars and restaurants where such local fare can be found. Some of them are better for almuerzo, the mid morning breakfast, or for tapas if you do not want a full-blown meal. For those who do want a dining experience, whether at lunchtime or in the evening, La Bodegetta in Benlloch is top of my list. Once or twice a year a treat is called for,  this is where I go to fulfill that wish.

The restaurant is also very much a local bar, with tables in the street outside, an extensive selection of tapas and bocadillos for almuerzo, but it has a serious menu of main courses, mainly directed from the` brasa´, as well as a selection of home-made puddings to tempt the palate. In season La Bodegetta also produces the local `ollas´ or stews from this part of Castellon. These often have pigs feet , ears, lamb neck, jamon bones, black pudding ( morcilla) , chard, spinach, potato, green beans, carrots, pumpkin, turnip amongst other ingredients.

Pan con tomate.

Pan con tomate.

I have eaten there three times and always received a friendly welcome, booking a table is advised and  essential if the local fairs are on.

The bar/restaurant is clean and modern inside, with a separate private dining area at the back although in fiesta the whole bar will be set up with  tables laid for meals rather than snacks.

The extensive choice of starters, tapas and main courses is committed to memory…..not mine, the waiting staff´s!

Revueltos de Jamon y Ajo Tierno.

Revueltos de Jamon y Ajo Tierno.

On our latest visit there must have been 15-20 choices for starters, including revueltos (scrambled eggs) with various additions such as jamon and ajo tierno, or morcilla,  different salads,  gambas al ajillo and all come accompanied with the local version of  `pan con tomate´,  bread cooked with tomato rubbed into the top of the dough.

Revueltos with Morcilla.

Revueltos with Morcilla.

Main courses included rabbit, any number of beef , lamb and pork dishes or fish cooked on the brasa or the plancha as well as some cooked in the oven such as cod in a tomato sauce.

Gambas al Ajillo.

Gambas al Ajillo.

We plumped for a salad of mojama, (served with sliced tomato  with carpaccio of cod and anchovy and timbales of chopped vegetables with aubergine),  a revueltos with black pudding and ajo tierno, gambas al ajillo and the bread. These typical sharing plates are generous starters and three are usually enough between five people. The mojama ( tuna loin, air-dried and sliced thinly) was perfectly accompanied by the salad of vegetables, lightly oiled, the anchovy and cod producing a contrast of flavours. The revueltos was just right, neither firm nor sloppy, the egg bound perfectly with the baby garlic tops and morcilla with onion and spices.

Ensalada de Mojama.

Ensalada de Mojama.

The gambas, ( prawns cooked in oil and wine with garlic and a dried chilli) served sizzling were plump and full of flavour.

For mains we chose five different dishes. From the brasa the chuleton de buey (beef rib) was cooked perfectly `poco hecho,´  melted in the mouth and was well seasoned with rock salt.

Chuleton de Buey and Mas de Rander Syrah.

Chuleton de Buey and Mas de Rander Syrah.

The `secreto´ of pork was tender and generous in size.The rabbit is served spatchcocked, whole and is ideal for those who love picking up the bones!

Conejo a la Brasa.

Conejo a la Brasa.

From the fish dishes we selected emperador ( swordfish) from the plancha and cod served in a tomato sauce. All five dishes came with a garnish of chips and a `padron´ pepper. More bread was offered, and accepted  as well.

Emperador a la Plancha.

Emperador a la Plancha.

To accompany the meal we chose a white wine from Catalonia and a red from the local bodega Mas de Rander, a syrah full of fruit but with sufficient tannin to cut through the natural fat in the meat dishes. If there is one shortcoming it is the wine list. There is a choice between local wines and those from elsewhere in Spain Sadly the local white was not available and the restaurant could give some thought to improving its choice of local wines.

Secreto de Cerdo.

Secreto de Cerdo.

For some reason we skipped the choice of home-made sweets, mainly flans and mousses!

However no visit to Castellon is ever complete without the local coffee, Carajillo de ron. This is claimed to be the birthplace of the carajillo…..rum boiled with sugar and then served with the coffee sat on top with a piece of lemon rind and a coffee bean. It is said this was all the Spanish troops had before going into battle in Cuba.

Carajillo de Ron!

Carajillo de Ron!

With water, the whole meal will cost you around 25€ a head, well worth it for a quality meal, well cooked and presented in an atmosphere where the cuisine was clearly being appreciated by the other diners and the staff care about what they are providing!

The restaurant is in the centre of Benlloch and only 10 minutes drive from the new Castellon airport. For those waiting for their `White Elephant Airways´ flight this is a convenient point to while away the hours…….and with guaranteed service!


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