pub spy

Buddha Bar Benidorm

El Pantano Orcheta


The Courtyard Polop



Buddha Bar 

This week I wandered into the old town Benidorm, the evening was drawing in, hot and bothered I filtered through the throng and soon became sick of being pushed around by out-of-work seventysomethings, temperatures were rising and I was gagging for a cold cider. I swung a left and came across a curious looking place.ffdder.jpg

The Buddha Bar is situated in the heart of the old town Benidorm – tucked away from the bustle of the walking street, turn left up Calle Santa Fac, number 10.

Shortly after I arrived, the friendly staff invited me to sit at the bar. The space was busy but, had a relaxed feel with the sound of background music and light chatter filling the room.

As I looked around at the cool and quirky interior; think gold, purple and plenty of sparkle, Buddha paraphernalia and a mirrored wall. I copped several smiles from ensconced punters chirping away merrily, the place promising a mixture of ‘spirited sophistication and friendly banter’.

I picked up and thumbed through a lengthy cocktail menu. Clearly, there was only one thing for it; I had to try several of these bespoke flavours – all in the name of research – starting with a Frozen Terry’s Chocolate Orange Martini followed by a Turkish Delight Gin.

If you are partial to a great cocktail this spot knocks up a mean one in more ways than one. In fact, they boast over a hundred all made by mixologist, owner and partner, Toby who also hosts cocktail making parties for people who would like to learn how to make their favourites.

Even though it was shortly after 9 pm on a Monday, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was much later on a Saturday night. I look forward to my next visit. The Opening hours are from 7 pm until 2 am.

“When you realise how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”

— Buddha

How it rated:

Atmosphere **** Friendly, relaxed

Décor ***** Tasteful

Drink **** Great Collection of Cocktails

Staff **** Lovely

Price *** Middling

El Pantano Orcheta

The location, well the clue is in the title. Getting lost on a mildly terrifying country lane somewhere inland from Villajoyosa, the blue reservoir on your left meant we landed at the Pantano entirely by accident. This was a few years ago when the place was run by Argentinians. I heard it had been taken over some years back by a Brit couple so recently I took to the road with a designated driver.

Parking up in the car park, it looked just the kind of place you might take your parents for a weekend lunch. The first impression is how big the place was with large archways and plenty of tables on either a closed terrace or open large terrace. The inside was looking tired and dated the same as it was years ago albeit a splash of paint here and there, but the main focus was alfresco dining surrounded by mountainous views, oh and unfortunately the road.

The tables were full and listening to the accents this was truly a euro bar with Belgium, Dutch, Norwegian, Brits and Spanish. They have several secret weapons in their arsenal, the owners, conjuring up quality food and always consistent, the multilingual staff serving food and drinks swiftly stopping to laugh at a comment always with a respectful retort. People take selfies with their food here especially when you order the house burger it’s massive.

After a noisy soothing lunch, I felt a little unaffected by what was ostensibly a decent place. Does it lack that spark of charm? Perhaps. Pitty the tables and chairs outside are those free from the brewery types – no comfy sofas here and you get the impression they would rather you didn’t sit at the bar this is more of an eatery than some where to while away the hours. Or possibly it is just the sort of place where you need some good company to really make the most of it. I would need another visit to confirm this which I plan to do.

Where this place really scores is its food. A quality burger is one thing but there was no chance BarSpy was missing out on huge battered fish hanging over the plate it’s not something you tend to get down but I had a good go. Paying three quid for a can of Strongbow stung a bit but at least it was ice cold.

My initial feeling that the Pantano was exactly the kind of place to bring your parents was only strengthened the longer I remained. But it is also a place to come with visiting friends.

How it rated:

Atmosphere **** Friendly, relaxed

Décor *** Spanish dated

Food ***** Splendid

Drink **** Great collection of wines and spirits Cider on draft would be nice

Staff **** Lovely

Price *** Middling


The Courtyard Polop



With the sweltering weather BarSpy decided to pull up a pew outside the courtyard on the edge of Polop with a pint of cider in hand I soon engaged in conversation with some of the locals.

I always like to form my own opinion but being in Spain amongst expats there is always someone willing to give their unsolicited advice and these people couldn’t say enough positive things about the new owners of this place and the chef too.

The grub is unapologetically British with a full-English, meat pie, mash and gravy and fish and chips Friday. I opted for a crispy chicken in orange sauce a special due to the fact that Emma, the chief, used to work in a Chinese kitchen. It was very tasty, a real highlight. The mains are generally €7-8 and burgers start at €5.65, which is very reasonable.

An added bonus was the football world cup watching England win on penalties. The locals, prominently Brits with a splash of Belgium, Dutch and Spanish had an emotional roller coaster ride never having to leave their seats as the owners kept the flavours coming to our tables outside.

I think this bar is marvellous simply for its consistency. The regulars here clearly appreciate what they are familiar with, and that is something to be commended. The only complaints are that the kitchen closes late afternoon so they turn away a lot of hungry newbies and the owners close the bar on Wednesday. So all the complaints are about their regulars not being able to visit even more – what does that tell you!?

Decor *** – Typical Spanglish with a great covered terrace.

Atmosphere ***** – cosy and chatty Euro’s frequent

Staff **** – friendly

Price ***** – good value

Drink **** – good selection and Cider on draft