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Saona Restaurant Valencia.

17th July 2016

Saona Restaurant Valencia.

One thing I love about travelling to different countries is the chance to try different foods and when in Spain, the restaurant options are endless. Plenty of places sell traditional paella or seafood dishes with sauteed potatoes and mediterranean veg and Valencia is no exception, with restaurants dotting every square and back street filling the air with the delicious aroma of spanish cuisine. But what if you've had your fill of traditional and fancy something a little closer to home, but still has that taste of the med? Saona is a neat little restaurant on the edge of the Plaza de la Virgen offering an outdoor seating area if you fancy a bit of people watching or admiring the stunning Turia fountain at the heart of the square, or alternatively inside the restaurant - a spacious air conditioned get away from the hustle and bustle of the street. The menu - whilst still mediterranean centered - features some more well known dishes such as lasagna, hamburger or chicken in cream sauce and has a little something for every taste.

If you've been to Valencia before then you may well have walked through the Plaza de la Virgen, it's a charming tourist hotspot hosting a statue of Neptune surrounded by eight naked woman a top of the Turia fountain. The square is encompassed by various cafes as well as three historical buildings - the Basílica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, the Cathedral of Santa Maria and the Palace of the Generalitat. We decided to sit outside and admire the stunning architecture and history of the city as well as bask in the glorious weather we were blessed with. Considering that it was only April, the temperature was peaking at 30 degrees but shade was provided by the restaurant umbrellas as well as a large tree and a jug of water was given to us by the waiter to keep us hydrated - a nice touch I feel. The atmosphere of the plaza as well as the restaurant felt very exclusive as corporate business types and chic city slickers mingled on their lunch breaks and tucked into salads and bottles of red wine. The fashion is a very simple smart casual in Valencia, but the women have an air of laid back cool that could only found in a city as dreamy and sleepy (and historical) as Valencia is. Cotton shirts paired with skinny jeans against tanned skin and tousled hair looks effortless and stylish and our little spot on the edge of the plaza was the perfect place for inspiration as well as a memorable lunch.

One thing you may notice about Spain is that most cafes and restaurants have set menus for a fixed price per person and a lot of the time you can find them for under 10 Euro. Whilst this can be a handy way to budget your trip, it's not always the best food that gets delegated to the set menu and you may end up cheating yourself out of a good meal just to save some pennies. Thankfully at Saona the set menu doesn't scrimp on quality and it is filled with delicious dishes ranging from chicken to vegetarian meals. There are different priced menus depending on the time of day but for each you get to choose 3 courses which also comes with wine and we paid just 9,90 euro per person for the lunch menu. You really can't go wrong with that!

To start we all opted for the Caprese salad, a mixture of rocket, buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes with a smooth basil pesto drizzled on top. It was luxurious and light and the perfect start to a three course dinner as it leaves you feeling satisfied, but not yet full. We were left to chat lazily and sip on our wine awhile before the next course and for this I had chosen a vegetarian lasagne whilst the rest of the table dined on chicken - apparently the best they had ever had! I'm not exaggerating when I claim my lasagna to be the best vegetarian version of the italian classic that I have ever tasted, it truly was! I all too often find them to be soggy and lacking in any actual flavour, but not at Saona. No, this lasagne was delicately layered with vegetables, pasta, sauces and cheese, seasoned beautifully and topped with roasted pumpkin seeds and pine nuts. It was easy to cut into with no unwanted sogginess and was the perfect portion size that filled me up the right amount without the feeling that I was about to burst! The chicken I'm told was juicy and tender and served with sauteed potatoes and a creamy sauce over the top and it was so good they could have had seconds there and then!

Our waiter during the first two courses allowed us to dine in peace, there was no faffing or constant check backs and all the food arrived in a timely manner. On the day we went the restaurant was quite busy, so it did take a bit of time to get the waiter's attention should we have needed it, but it didn't really hinder the overall experience. When it came to ordering dessert we were given menus and the waiter patiently let us decide which treat we fancied (there were quite a few to choose from!). We all settled on banoffee pie, a firm favourite of mine and once again we were left to chat peacefully before this was served. Not too long after taking our order they arrived on smart slate plates and once again we were presented with a fantastic quality dish this time in the form of a smooth and creamy banoffee filling on top of a soft biscuit base and finished with fluffy cream and chocolate shavings. It wasn't sickly either, it was sweet and easy to eat and I could have taken a whole one home with me.

Paying the bill was probably the only tricky part of our visit to Saona and that was down to the business of the restaurant as it took us awhile to peg down a waiter and have the bill actually delivered to the table. Thankfully for them we were satisfied and full and not quite ready to continue exploring the city as of yet, so waiting around was only a minor nuiance. I have also worked in hospitality in the past and so I usually understand when this part of dining out can be slow as other groups of people slowly peter in and want to order. It's also nice to not be rushed out of the restaurant to accommodate new people coming in even in the lunchtime rush, everything ran smoothly. Once we were able to get our waiter's attention, paying was simple and easy and we were wished well for the rest of our day. Overall I would say our experience of Saona was an incredibly positive one and whilst there are plenty of food places to try in Valencia, I would urge you to visit just once for a delicious inexpensive meal. It was a great pit stop for us as we only spent 6 hours in the city and we needed somewhere with quick service that offered good quality food and was purse friendly. Saona certainly ticked all the boxes for us and we will happily be going again when we are next in Valencia.