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Table Talk :: La Cabaña

Wednesday December 19, 2007

Table Talk :: La Cabaña

Whilst there are plenty of decent restaurants in Puerto del Carmen many tend to offer the same predictable fayre. But La Cabaña, which is located in Macher, just ten minutes away from the resort happily bucks the trend. With a menu that features the sort of creative, well presented, modern international cuisine that you simply wont find in many other island eateries.

Meet The Owners

La Cabañas owners, Darren and Debbie Spurr, originally hail from Sheffield and Cambridge respectively. But chose to relocate to Lanzarote in 2001. In search of a fresh challenge and a better quality of life, having worked together for years in some of the UK´s best establishments, such as The Inn at Emmington, in Oxford, and London’s Sugar Reef. Lanzarote was a natural choice. As Darren had been visiting the island for many years, and had always dreamt of starting a new life here.

They were lucky to find a small Italian eaterie, complete with its own living quarters, in Macher, which enjoys a wide catchment area encompassing some of the island’s most affluent households. As well as being in close proximity to both Puerto del Carmen and Puerto Calero.

Initially renting the establishment, they later bought it in staggered payments, with family and friends rallying around to help. In the space of a week they had redecorated, sourced fresh linens and planned the entire menu. After furiously texting and emailing friends and colleagues and organising some promotion in the local press, they opened La Cabaña’s doors in October 2002. Incredibly – to a full house!

And today, La Cabaña is one of the few restaurants in Lanzarote where you need to reserve a table in advance.

Intimate Dining

A meal at La Cabaña is always an intimate experience, rather like being in a private dining room. While it usually offers one sitting for the entire evening, Debbie explains that because Germans like to eat early, another booking can be taken later on – and conveniently the Spanish like to eat late! So Darren frequently finds himself slaving over the stove at midnight!

Over time, the couple invested around €50,000 in the business, enlarging the outdoor terrace and upgrading the restaurant’s kitchen facilities. Beforehand, Darren had just two hobs and a pizza oven to work with, which required some deft juggling of saucepans! Where possible, they employed local artisans, such as a specialist carpenter, to create the bar area and a striking wall sculpture.

Because the restaurant switched from cheap and cheerful Italian to top-notch international cuisine, they lost some of its original custom along the way. But new faces – namely, residents, people with holiday homes and tourists who mostly come via recommendation – have more than compensated for this.

Some regulars use the restaurant like their local diner, eating there two or three times a week! Debbie has got to know their tastes and preferences, right down to what kind of wine they prefer. “Older people love being fussed over, and made to feel special.” says Debbie, and her sharp memory enables her to recall the minutiae of who’s who and their various foibles!

Quality Ingredients

If a regular requests a dish in advance (which often happens), Darren will prepare it. One of the key hurdles of running a restaurant in Lanzarote is sourcing quality ingredients on a regular basis.

Darren has managed to establish a good network of suppliers (there are no food markets in Lanzarote, as so little is produced on the island), who understand what he is looking for and who will honour his custom with decent discounts.

Nevertheless, the erratic supply can affect the ‘specials’ on La Cabaña’s menu. Asked what he misses back in Blighty, Darren immediately cites scallops, game (especially venison and partridge) and fresh vanilla!

The other main headache is the maze of legal requirements, so a good lawyer who knows the local regulations (which differ from mainland Spain and the UK) is essential. Lanzarote may have a laid-back atmosphere, but the authorities are sticklers for paperwork and the council takes a very dim view of anywhere that falls short of basic health and safety standards.

All restaurants must get their menu ‘stamped’ by the Tourist Board (this is supposed to level pricing and prevent places from ripping off tourists). “I don’t think people, including family and friends, have any idea about our life. We haven’t had a holiday for four years yet people’s response is; your life is a holiday! Just because we live somewhere hot doesn’t mean it’s one long holiday! Also, because we’re open only for dinner, people assume we have our feet up all day!”

In fact, the days are taken up with sourcing fresh produce and juggling bookings (they tend to know most of their clientele by name, so need to ensure that no-one is seated next to their ex, past employer or sworn enemy!). “One girl called in a sickie at work and then booked a table at La Cabaña, only to see her boss walk in. She was fired the next day!” recalls Debbie.

La Cabaña´s regular menu favourites include caramelized fillet of pork in a calvados sauce and roast corn fed chicken breast, wrapped in Parma Ham and stuffed with gorgonzola. Vegetarian dishes are also a hit as they are so hard to find elsewhere.

“One of the reasons for La Cabana’s success,” reflects Debbie, “is our consistency. A lot of our regulars bring visitors to the restaurant knowing they can be sure of a great meal. So often people give us tales of woe, after taking people to once-good establishments, only to find that the kitchen has gone downhill or quietly changed hands, with dire results. Also, a lot of restaurants on the island are lazy, with menus offering the same dishes as everywhere else.? Okay, you have to work with what’s available, but what sets us apart, perhaps, is our imaginative use of ingredients, comments Darren.

They have also taken the trouble to provide an interesting wine list. Instead of the usual Spanish or local wines, La Cabaña’s selection hails from South America, Spain, Italy and the Canaries. Darren and Debbie have worked hard to create a genuine gastronomic gem in Macher. So why not tickle those tastebuds and head for La Cabana?

Fact File

How To Get There

La Cabaña in located just off the LZ2 that runs from Arrecife to Uga and is just a ten minute drive from Puerto del Carmen.


(+34) 650 685662

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