OZ gastroclub, “not only just for fun”

2022-07-12 380 Views

For reading this article I recommend the song “The Jazz Life” de Monkey House y Manhattan Transfer

It is amazing how, in the city of Alicante, the neighborhood called “Pau 5” has packed with restaurants and entertainment venues. There are many reasons why many restaurateurs have chosen this particular area. These include its close proximity to San Juan Beach, the huge avenues along which the establishments are located, almost all with access to the central boulevards, the convenient parking and the wide sidewalks that allow for terraces to be placed on them.

At the moment, I am making a classification of restaurants in Alicante according to new parameters. It is not at all like the ones you usually see in gastronomic guidebooks. I would include almost all the restaurants in this area in a section I call “Just for pleasure”. Almost all of these establishments have one thing in common: a typical menu, trendy dishes, inexpensive prices, and most of them also offer cocktails and DJ music. But there is one restaurant that stands out from the others. What makes it different is that while it has similar characteristics, it really cares about the gastronomic offer. And it has earned the right to be added to my “Not just for fun” list. This restaurant is called OZ gastroclub.

What is the advantage of OZ gastroclub?

First of all, its owner Jamie. He is a professional in his field, who has worked in the restaurant business for many years and who understands what he is doing. He is a wonderful chef. He is the kind of person who travels a lot around the country to get a better understanding of the restaurant business (there is not a single corner of the Basque Country that he has not visited).

Secondly, it’s a stunning restaurant with a terrace that you just can’t help but fall in love with. Guests can enjoy the open bar on the terrace, which also serves the inner hall of the restaurant. The interior is decorated with modern decor in the form of a tree and a stage for performances. There are professional and attentive service staff in the hall of the restaurant. As for the cuisine, Fernando, a native of Uruguay, who has many years of experience in Spain, is in charge here.

The dishes that are cooked there are also different from those of their competitors. For almost all hot dishes, they use a Josper oven, so that they can cook wood-fired dishes, but this requires knowledge of technology, which they certainly have. Using this technology and using a special kind of flour made it possible for them to release a menu that, with the exception of some cannelloni, is completely suitable for people diagnosed with coeliac disease. What’s more, they have successfully passed the appropriate expertise, which is an added benefit!

Three bottles of Marqués de Griñón olive oil from Cornicabra, Arbequina and a blend of Arbequina and Picual are displayed on the tables.

While in many restaurants the menu is more of a list, here the menu is clear and structured: salads, cold appetizers, hot appetizers, deep-fried dishes, mini pizzas with vegetables, rice dishes, pasta, main courses and sweets. And one more thing I’m seeing for the first time: a certain wine is offered with each dish. This gives a hint that Jamie always has a special awe for wine.

OZ gastroclub cuisine

Many of the dishes I ordered for the tasting are dishes from my past, and for many reasons they bring back pleasant memories.

Of the cold appetizers, my preference is “Russian Salad”, although some restaurants are starting to change its name. I have tried many of them. If there is one on the menu, I always order it. To make the salad here, the potatoes are cut into small cubes. It’s very tasty. That’s how I prepare it, although in Alicante they prefer to add crushed potatoes.

Of the hot appetizers, I recommend trying the “Artichokes roasted and stewed” stuffed with Iberian ham and foie gras, one of the most famous dishes. Vacuum-cooked artichokes can be eaten year-round, although I would only eat them in the season that falls in June, which is just around the corner in the Mediterranean.

You should pay attention to two ingredients when preparing a deep frying: the filling and the batter, as well as the degree of crispness of the latter. And depending on the preparation, the type of batter (either from flour or breadcrumbs). I choose “Hake filet on skewers in tempura” which came with tartar sauce. The crunch of the tempura is excellent, and the fact that the hake is cooked on skewers says a lot about its excellent quality.

Grandma’s Homemade Croquettes” have a very tender filling, light and with a pleasant taste. I would remove the word “homemade”, it’s obvious. They can also be made with a filling of black rice, spinach and shrimp, which sounds like a pretty complicated combination to me.

”Mini pizzas with vegetables”. Although they are more typical of the Marina Alta comarca, they are the Spanish equivalent of Italian pizza, and I would even say they are better. Of the four dishes offered on the menu, Jamie chooses the “Mini Pizza, cooked in the Josper oven, with spinach and anchovies by Matías López”. A crispy dough that can be consumed by vegans. Cooked with burrata, onions, piquillo peppers and anchovies from the Bay of Biscay, which Matías López supplies in Murcia. I highly recommend trying it, and you have to admit that the name of the dish and the shape of the mini pizza (oval) are not quite like the usual pizza.

“Rice dishes”. Although Fernando is Uruguayan, he excels at cooking rice dishes. This is due to his many years of professional experience in Spain. We took the “OZ Rice” to try it. OZ is from the ending of the Spanish word arrOZ [‘rice’].  In other words, a play on words. It is prepared with Balfegó bluefin tuna, shrimp, scallops and mussels. I would slightly reduce the list of ingredients, first of all I would exclude those that are not from Mediterranean waters, because that’s the only reason why it is an arrOZ. In addition, there is a thin layer of rice in the dish, perfectly cooked, somewhat softened, with a final finish in the oven that dries the top layer. Other high quality products include Balfegó brand and red shrimp, both Mediterranean products. I think I will definitely try the delicious COVAP brand Iberian Pork Tenderloin Rice, although I would also try the Spanish Oven Baked Rice to see why of all the sausages there is Asturian chorizo and not the red Pinoso sausages, for example.

As a rule, I usually eat rice at the end of a meal, in addition to dessert. But the menu of main courses is also very impressive, especially if they are cooked with Josper technology, with wood-smoked notes. So, let it be croaker, turbot or other fish from the fish market, which Jamie knows well how to cook in the Basque Country in a wood oven, as well as meat dishes, of which I am very attracted by the dish called “Txogitxu beef entrecote”, which is served with a potato side dish and roasted vegetables. Txogitxu is a company that supplies meat from the most Galician and Central European cows. This meat is sure to please meat gourmets.

And even though the dessert menu is very sweet, I prefer to fortify myself with wine and an assortment of cheeses. Why not try offering sweet wine on the dessert menu?

The electronic wine list, as I would expect, is complete and varied. Classified by combination, type of wine (red, white, sparkling and dessert), region, country (Spain, France, USA, Argentina, Hungary), grape variety (up to 41 varieties), winery and price. You don’t need to dream of much more than that. This menu alone is worth visiting the restaurant. Wine is offered both in bottles and glasses.

OZ gastroclub is an interesting novelty and, without a doubt, a gastronomic reference not only for the Pau 5 neighborhood, but for the whole of Alicante. Right now, on summer nights, this terrace will be hard to forget.

Antonio Marqueríe Tamayo. Gastronomic critic

Avda. Artista Remigio Soler López, 4 03540 Alicante +34 865 529 644