Jota Ele restaurant in Murcia is simply the finest tapas we’ve found anywhere!
We’re increasingly jaded by restaurants that promise the earth but deliver little more than a large bill at the end of an uninspiring meal.
For us, the true test of a good restaurant, in any country, is if it’s largely populated by local people who look as if they’re enjoying themselves.
On the lookout for a lunchtime halt, we amble around the stylishly attractive old town of Murcia.
Spanish cuisine, as with any other, can be very much ‘below average’ in the majority of high street restaurants, so we have fairly low expectations of finding anything other than simply a source of sustenance with any choice we make.
Eventually, we find Jota Ele, tucked away in an unassuming corner next to the entrance of an underground car park.
Outside there’s a marquee full of diners but as it’s a chilly day, we’re disinclined to sit outside.
The waiter, who initially suggests that the restaurant is full and that it will be a ten minute wait for any table, then discovers one available inside.
Our table is in pole position – a circular table just inside the front window of this beautifully presented restaurant – that is also full of elegantly dressed Spanish families with their well-behaved children, on what is obviously a traditional Saturday lunchtime outing.
The ambiance of the place is immediately welcoming and the staff a pleasure to talk to.
The elegant décor, clean and crisp table settings, clear lighting and gentle background hub-bub set the scene for a real treat.
My ideal form of eating would be to sample a number of excellent dishes without having to endure the repetition of a plate full of the same choice – so in theory tapas is a good solution.
That said, the majority of tapas I’ve sampled is a poor excuse for often mediocre cooking, meaning that my ideal has never been achieved.
Jota Ele has changed all of that! I’ve found food heaven.
We settle ourselves around the table with a couple of good friends and our waiter, who speaks little English, brings the menus.
He’s cheerful, friendly and thankfully doesn’t need to explain the menu, as its in both Spanish and English.
We spend some time over it as it reveals a long selection of interesting tapas, together with a group of ‘main meals’ should you prefer.
We choose three tapas plates each and our waiter then offers us a choice between three types of fresh prawns as an ‘aperitif’; displayed individually on a plate – we point to one of them and the selection is whisked away.
We also request a glass of house wine as the freshly cooked platter of prawns arrives. We share these as we await our tapas.
The tapas, when it arrives, is beautifully presented and each is exquisitely tasty – from the delicate ‘cod fritters’, clams with oil, garlic and pine nuts, to sardines on toast and a lovely colourful feta salad.
There’s one omission – probably as much down to our Spanish as anything else – and that’s the quail legs in a reduction of soya sauce.
When the waiter arrives with it he can’t help but see the humour, as the single miniscule leg in a sauce of what tastes like Bovril is dwarfed by the size of the plate upon which it rests in splendid isolation – not something we can easily share!
Each of the dishes ranges from about 4-8 Euros, so it’s easy to keep tabs on your expenditure and intake.
Jota Ele is a family-run restaurant with the owners very much in attendance and, one assumes, also directly responsible for maintaining the friendly and welcoming atmosphere that prevails throughout.
As with most experiences, it’s the combination and synergy between multiple elements that really makes for a memorable event.
Whilst the food at Jota Ele is undoubtedly exceptional, it’s the harmonious combination of environment, ambiance and bonhomie that marks out the restaurant as truly exceptional.
We leave the restaurant as our fellow diners start to thin out – the general happy banter between them suggesting that everyone has had as rewarding an experience as have we.
Jota Ele has been one of the most pleasant and heartwarming experiences we’ve had for a long time – we can’t recommend it highly enough when you next find yourself in Murcia.
If you’d like to check out Jota Ele’s informative Facebook page then simply click on their business card below.
The Google map gives you the location of Jota Ele in Murcia’s historic old town.