Instead of planning how we'll spend each travel day, Dan and I prefer to head out with a general idea of where we want to go and stop when something catches our eye. It might be a world-class museum one day, other times it could be a fabulous view along the side of the road or an inviting coffee house. It paid off in Andorra when we passed a tiny restaurant called l’Hort de Casa.
While driving around the country's northwest we decided to take a break for lunch. Not having any recommendations in hand, we did our usual routine: Look for something that resembles a restaurant and then check for full tables or cars in the parking lot, especially cars with local plates. (That’s a good clue to good food, because locals know where the best restaurants are.)
We somehow ended up in a town called Erts where a small stone-and-wood building sat on a small side street. our only clue to what was inside was a simple wooden sign over the door humbly proclaiming “RESTAURANT.” It looked so inviting, what with all the vines and greenery and a small terrace in the front overlooking the mountains, that we couldn't resist. We went in.
Inside L'Hort de Casa: mountain ambiance
It was a pleasant October day, but the air was a bit chilly and the outdoor tables were empty so we decided to eat indoors. The aroma of fire-grilled food greeted us as we entered and were warmly welcomed and seated by a very friendly woman.
We could tell that we were in for a treat.
What's on the menu?
When we got the menu, we finally learned that our lunch stop was named L'Hort de Casa (The Orchard House). We also discovered that it specializes in Aragonese cuisine.
Aragon? I didn't know that it had its own cuisine, or even what part of Spain it's in. All I knew of it was that it was once a kingdom (Catherine of Aragon was the first wife of Henry the 8th).
Whatever. Everything on the menu looked delicious.
The menu offered a lot of dining options, all fairly priced. The waitress brought a basket of crusty bread and a dish of Spanish olives while we made our selections.
Then while we were waiting for our meal, I made a 17-second video clip of the restaurant's interior. We soon learned that the woman who we thought was the waitress is actually the owner. As it turns out, she does everything in the restaurant.
Our first taste of Aragonese cuisine
Following her recommendation, Dan ordered a flavorful homemade beef noodle soup to start. I couldn't resist selecting a wild mushroom salad with a balsamic reduction dressing. When it arrived, I was thrilled to see palm hearts in it as well. I was even more delighted to find that the mushrooms were tender, not woody.
Aragonese cuisine must include snails, because our waitress told us it's the specialty. No slime for us though. When we saw the duck breast on the menu, we went no further. We both ordered it.
The duck breast was simply prepared, sprinkled with kosher salt before meeting the grill. It arrived to the table accompanied by a slice of grilled pepper and potato, both drizzled with a fragrant Spanish olive oil.
Then the bill came.
Our final bill for starters, entrees and two beers came to €36.50 plus service charge. Pretty standard pricing for Europe. Considering the flavor and atmosphere, it was worth every euro.
Do you think that's a fair price? Let us know in the comments.
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