Restaurante Calle Real – Granada, Spain

This is the fifth in a series of articles by Intrepid Traveler publisher Kelly Monaghan as he travels through Spain after a transatlantic cruise aboard the Disney Magic.

Entrance to Calle Real.

The most convenient hotel to Granada’s Alhambra is the Parador de Granada. That’s because it’s actually in the Alhambra, housed in the restored 15th century Convent de San Francisco.

There’s a price to be paid for such convenience, of course. Room rates start at 336 euros for a standard room and rise to over 600 euros for a suite. But if you cannot afford to stay like the 1 percent, you may well be able to afford to eat with them.

The Calle Real restaurant in the Parador is open to the general public and serves delicious food at surprisingly affordable prices given the quality. We chose the 40 euro, five-course “tasting menu.” Considering that it’s possible to spend close to 40 euros on just a starter and an entrée here, that’s a real bargain.

The Calle Real prides itself on regional cuisine, often with an entirely appropriate Arab influence given the location, as well as locally sourced ingredients. All were on display in the dishes we sampled.

Following an amuse bouche of cream of rice in lobster bisque, we began our feast with an elaborately composed cold

Cold salad of chickpeas and octopus.

salad of chickpeas and tender octopus surrounded by thinly sliced cucumber and graced with a sauce of sweet peppers and prawns.

This was followed by a dish that could have been served in Marrakesh, a stew of “fowl” (could it have been pigeon?), wrapped in baked phyllo dough and dusted with powdered sugar, set atop a compote of raisins and nuts. It was ambrosial.

The fish course consisted of fresh cod.

The fish course was fresh cod prepared with a glaze of olive oil set atop julienned veggies and accented with almonds and another sweet pepper sauce.

Next came perfectly cooked duck breast, the skin crisp and the meat medium rare, over a bed of poached apples and other fruits spiced with cinnamon.

Perfectly cooked: The duck entree with crisp skin and medium rare meat.

The finale was an artfully arranged composition of seven different desserts in bite-sized portions. Well, two or three bites, actually.

The wine list is surprisingly gentle on the exchequer with bottles starting at about 16 euros and topping off in the 50 euro range. The Rioja Tempranillo recommended with the tasting menu was just 20 euros. We chose a half bottle of rosé and a Rioja by the glass for the duck and paid less.

The service was brisk and professional and blissfully unobtrusive, allowing for uninterrupted conversation. What a nice change from the “My name is Juan and I’ll be your server” school of service!

Dessert, the grand finale.

The bill came to under 100 euros (service included). At home, we could easily have paid one and a half to twice as much for a meal of similar quality.

Next to the restaurant is a delightful terraza with views of the Generalife, where you can enjoy more modest fare at more modest prices, often only slightly more than you’d pay elsewhere in Granada.

Even if you stop in only for a café on the terrace, it’s a inexpensive way to get a look at one of Granada’s poshest hotels.