Shooting a clean, top-corner
Tel: 2133 3222
I have embarrassed myself one time too many recently. Every time I speak to anyone about anything, the conversation turns to football. And every time it does, I try to recall a snippet from the previous conversation to feign interest. I can’t get anything right though.
I recently figured out that two matches were being played on the same day. That sorted out my confusion about the multiple scores. I keep expecting to find out that football is indeed played with a bat or a club or a cue. I’ve never quite figured out the sport and don’t intend to do so now, having survived perfectly well without it.
Doug, who graced this page with his turn of phrase last week, happens to be quite the expert and finds my spectacular lack of footie knowledge quite amusing. I’m pretty sure he can quote the bra size of the wife of the reserve goalie for QPR during the 1972-1973 season. To the nearest half-cup size.
Where football does become a bit of a problem to someone like me is when attempting to dine out during this manic period. Too many people like football for most places to do without a TV showing the matches and I find the drone of the commentary, and the sudden bouts of excitement that punctuate it, to be quite annoying.
I understand that I’m a definite minority and I don’t expect the rest of the country to eat in silence because of my particular disposition so I hunt down places that do away with the sport.
Upon the recommendation of a friendly neighbour, I decided to try out Medasia Playa in Quisisana this week. He assured me that the setting was quite serene, the service was great and the food was lovely. I liked the ‘serene’ bit and that, to me, meant no football. I decided I’d head over and test the waters. If the first thing I heard was football commentary, I’d find somewhere else.
It sounded like a beach club when he described it and I hadn’t yet heard of the place so I was headed towards a wildcard. As is the case in this sort of situation, I had absolutely no expectations.
I parked in what looked like a suitable spot that was set at a jaunty angle. Later on that night, I found out that it wasn’t in fact a parking spot and had a personalised note on my windscreen to admonish me for my transgression and inform me that a fine was due. Fine.
Down the stairs to the lido I trotted and was pleasantly surprised to find that the upper level has been transformed into a very neatly done-up dining area. The buildings that housed a snack bar have been turned into quite a snazzy open kitchen. Candles flicker on every table and serving staff look the part in their summery, white uniforms. Not a hint of football was to be heard. The evening was looking up.
Had I not been intractably vespertine I might have turned up for dinner at seven and enjoyed the last few hours of dusk over the open sea. I left my cave at nine so by the time I arrived all that I could see of the sea was pool of squid ink, with a row of twinkling lights from shipping traffic in the distance to outline the horizon.
I imagined early evenings here to be quite idyllic and made a mental note to turn up earlier if the experience warranted a repeat visit.
We were seated at a table on the edge of the dining area, with nothing more than a swimming pool to separate us from the sea. A very polite young lady presented us with a wine menu, a drinks menu and food menus. This little library has become a common approach of late and I find it a little clumsy but it makes logistical sense so I’ve grown to put up with it.
The food menus have an additional first page with the Playa specials added to the Medasia menu so all that is available at their outlet on The Strand is available here.
The Playa specials are basically the more standard restaurant fare, with steak, fish, salads and other Mediterranean items on it. I thought it would make sense to sample these since they’re what distinguishes this restaurant from its mixed-race sibling.
Half a lobster at just over €20 sounded like just the deal for the evening. Also enticing was the mixed seafood platter for the same price. We decided to go for both and share. We couldn’t resist dipping into the regular menu for starters and picked a sashimi dish to start with. Another member of staff, this time an enthusiastic and helpful young man, asked whether we’d like to specify the fish and immediately went on to suggest we pick salmon and tuna. I agreed.
We ordered a bottle of Pinot Grigio but this wasn’t available and our waiter helpfully suggested that we opt for Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. I agreed once again.
Yet another smiling member of staff served the wine rather expertly and turned up a minute later with bruschetta that was fresh and tasted of summer and garlic and lazy evenings on the beach.
Sashimi didn’t take long and was impeccably plated. There must have been a slip in communication because it was all salmon but the fish was so fresh and well-prepared that I never mentioned this.
While we waited for the main course I had a look around and spotted a TV that I’d missed when I was walking in. A football match was on but the sound had been mercifully muted so those who wanted to follow the match could do so without imposing their preference on others.
Had the captain of one of the ships on the horizon looked our way, he’d have seen the appreciation on my face from that distance.
Presently my lobster turned up, sliced down the middle and grilled, served with plenty of chips and a neat, little salad.
There is something quite unashamedly indulgent about lobster and chips. All the ‘proper’ sides don’t quite match the enjoyment of chips when eating lobster in an informal setting.
All the tools had been supplied so I cracked open the claws and clawed at the tender meat they so tenaciously guard. The exposed areas of the lobster had been perhaps a little too enthusiastically grilled, the seasoning could possibly have been less salty, but none of this stopped me from thoroughly enjoying the dish.
If I would change anything in that dish, I would recommend better chips.
The mixed seafood platter was equally delightful. Mussels, clams, local prawns and fillets of white fish were served in the pan that they’d been sautéed in and were served with rice and salad. We were also supplied with a finger bowl and bowls to dispose of shells in. One of the young men turned up with fresh bread, suggesting that we use the bread to lap up the lovely liquid that remained.
Food was plentiful and, for the most part, quite delicious. I wasn’t in the mood for dessert, and had eaten too much of the bread to have room for it anyway.
The bill for €75 was bang on target considering location, service and food quality.
Lidos that suddenly turn into restaurants are very often a gamble that I wouldn’t put my money on until I’ve seen them in action. Medasia Playa turned up out of nowhere, calmly placed the ball on the penalty spot, and shot a clean top-corner.
I’ve probably got my football metaphors all mixed up but I suggest you give it a try. Turn up early on in the evening, kick back, and prepare for a pleasant surprise.