I´m so glad that I opened Yelp when we stumbled upon the outer city walls of Ronda around dinner time. Thanks to other Yelpers for this recommendation.
Casa Maria appears so unassuming, when we got there it was just a simple hole-in-the-wall bar on the side of a busy street, with 3 guys standing in front of the door drinking cervezas and chatting with the bartender through a small window. There´s a giant tapas menu nailed to the wall with some very cheap prices listed. We were hooked. But when we poked our heads inside, the owner/chef, Elias, walked out and greeted us warmly. He asked if we´re doing dinner, and walked us over across the street to the park where he had tables and chairs set-up. At the time there was only one other couple sitting there with beer and small plates. After our drinks more couples and families started sitting down. It´s a very nice atmosphere, surrounded by local children playing in the park behind us, other locals walking around or sitting on the benches around us, chatting away.
Elias asked us to read the story on the table (see photos) then we immediately asked for ´´un poco de todo´´, which means ´´a little bit of everything´, a sampler. There is no menu there, he kind of just tells you what he has for the night, asks you if you have any food allergies. We told him we have no allergies and asked him to serve us his best. In between service he would come by our table and chat with us, telling us how he got started, how he was hired to be a personal chef by some celebrity who was in town for vacation, some guy who was in the Rambo movie with Sylvester Stalone, and said how he was visited by a famous food critic (Rick Steve ?) from America who gave him a very good review.
One dish after the other came out, first it was this awesome pate prepared with home-made compote along with a basket of mini toasted bread, and a raw salmon salad that was so fresh, I couldn´t put my finger on what that dressing was. I could see caviar in the salmon salad. Another plate came out, with their specialty bruschetta looking dish, slices of bread with olive oil, garlic, salt and some fresh sauce on it. Then came the grilled asparagus, amazing! And then the main course came out, this delicious cubes of seared tuna prepared in some special sauce topped with his own version of wasabi. At first when you bite into it you think it´s red meat, some kind of a pork dish. But when we asked we were told it´s tuna. It does not taste fishy at all.
Overall we had a very romantic, personable and amazing culinary experience. We were served their one and only special dessert (a version of flan prepared with yoghurt cream) as well as coffee and shots of their crema licor. All this and more (glasses of wine, cerveza, pitcher of sangria) for only 60 Euros total. The dishes were not sampler sizes by any means, so be ready to eat.
I highly recommend that you come here to try their food and hospitality. Elias, his daughter Maria, and his wife Isabel will treat you to a special culinary experience.
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