The head chef, Laura Pintado with her kitchen buddy Lucas Méndez together create innovative dishes from local produce, yet they do not compromise the taste preparing delicious meals that will not leave you overwhelmed as in many of the laboratory kitchens so trendy in Spain and elsewhere. The food at El Umbráculo is true to its origins, while at the same time a fusion with other foreign cuisines (Thai, Italian as well as Argentinian) further enhances the genuine flavor of the main ingredient be it meet, mushroom or vegetable.
The kitchen duo: Laura and Lucas Photo by Zlata Rodionova
Atmosphere: Casual, artistic and local. The restaurant has an intriguing interior design. Under a granary style high roof embroidered by wooden beams the space feels open and welcoming. For those of you craving more privacy, dining in the cellar-like vaulted area (in the picture on the left) or above in the second level is less exposed to the sights of others and both have a certain intimate qualities. The restaurant is located at the Bodegas Real winery, therefore you can be as casual as you want, after all wineries are types of farms. On the other hand, the winery hosts weddings in the modern premises next to the restaurant, so you might feel a bit underdressed especially during the weekends that most of the weddings are being held, so check with the winery while making your reservation at the restaurant just for your own comfort.
Umbraculo restaurant at Bodegas Real Photo by Zlata Rodionova
Food: Seasonal, discovering new flavors and textures of local produce. The winery makes its own olive oil from the olives grown on (at) the property, it is delicate and supple – an ideal companion to the freshly baked bread served at the restaurant.
Starting with Marinated herring with mixed salad, mango and sweet potatoes in a yoghurt sauce (Arenques marinados sobre rucola y hoja de roble, mango y boniato con salsa de yogurt). I knew that I will not be eating something I have already head. This new marriage of savory herring with sweet mango and potatoes as contrasting it may sound, makes a perfect sense. Usually herrings are served with apples and potatoes, but adding a bit sweater character with mango and sweet potato instead brings spotlight to the herring. The sweet and sour flavors pair well with a white dry wine such as Macabeo or Chardonnay from Bodegas Real.
Herrings with an exotic mango sauce
We were also treated to the off-the menu appetizer of Seared seasonal mushrooms with an almond-crusted egg yolk and mixed grill vegetables (Setas de temporadas con yema de huevo en costra de almendras) as the chef has probably got them fresh into the kitchen. The mushrooms were absolutely mind-blowing! Not only they were fresh and boosting with forest flavors, but the magnificent play with grilled vegetables mixed with the mushrooms and egg yolk fried in a crust of almonds was nothing far from perfection. A sip or two of a Bodegas Real Chardonnay sealed the perfect marriage of the estate wine with the food served at the restaurant.
Seared seasonal mushrooms
You can choose either a meat dish or fish as a main course. We went for the Roasted turbot with a ragout of vegetables and mild curry sauce (Bacalao con curry suave). The flakes of turbot scented with the curry sauce, again highlighting the quality of the fish (the main ingredient), softly melted in my mouth. Crunching on the crispy veggies in between, my palate was reminded of the diverse textures in this meal. Slices of potatoes balanced the overall intensity of the fish with the sauce rounding up the degustatory experience.
The meat aficionados can choose from the local meat specialities such as Slow roasted suckling pig with garlic shoots and romesco sauce or Venison loin with a wild seasonal mushroom sauce and new potatoes with thyme. Both will surely pair very well with the juicy and slightly tannic Bodegas Real Tempranillo or intriguing Finca Marisanches red blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Merlot.
Bacalao (turbot) with mild curry sauce, potatoes and crispy vegetables.
Leave some space for desserts as a new addition to the menu – the Cream of Tiramisu on sponge biscuit with arábiga coulis (Crema de Tiramisú sobre bizcocho soletilla y coulis de arábiga) is irresistible. Tiramisu is not my favorite sweet treat, but the cream of Tiramisu the chef whipped to a smooth, tongue enveloping texture, was excellent. It inspired me to get a cup of coffee with it. On the other hand, the sponge biscuit under the cream together with a fruity purèe on the bottom, called for a glass of red wine. Something smooth such as the Finca Marisanches red blend that I had paired wonderfully with this sumptuous dessert.
Tiramisu cream with arábiga fruit coulis.
Cuisine: Modern take on traditional Castillan-Manchego Spanish cuisine, “new gastronomy from La Mancha”.
Visit: November 2012
Price: Medium (appetizers around €10 and generous main courses €20).
Drinks: The food is made for the wines made at Bodegas Real. The chef Laura Pintado sums it up: “When we elaborate our new menus, it is an element we constantly take in count in order to create a proper marriage. A good choice of wine will enhance the virtues of the food we serve and vice versa. Luckily, we have many things to choose from,”. They achieve a great harmony between the dishes and the wines, so get advised by the restaurant staff on which one of the Bodegas’ wines goes best with each of your courses and you will not be disappointed as I was not.
Address: Finca Marisanchez, restaurant El Umbráculo, Ctra. Valdepeñas a Cozar km 12.800, 13300 Valdepeñas, Spain.
Contact: +(34) 629 939 703; email: