Europe and Middle East, Galicia, Newsletter, Restaurant Reviews, Spain

Charlatan, La Coruna

18/05/2023 by .

Anthea Gerrie enjoys an unexpected taste of fine dining at Charlatan in laid-back La Coruna

In a city better known for braised octopus and tapas-style dining, Charlatan flies the flag for more formal gastronomy in La Coruna.   Although there are gourmet pizzas, of which more later, this elegant restaurant in the heart of the Crystal City, named for its plethora of glassed-in balconies, is the place to enjoy sophisticated dishes of a complexity rare in wider Galicia, the wild region of north-western Spain more renowned for its super-fresh fish and aged beef.

Owner Ruben Garcia, British-born to Galician parents, has in Charlatan played his trump card – partner Alvaro Victoriano, who has harnessed Michelin-starred credentials earned in Madrid to create original and unforgettable flavour combinations in his new adopted home.  For us that was epitomised by a star dish of confit artichokes and foie (duck liver) in a reduction of sweet, rich Pedro Ximenez sherry (€13), which local acclaim has mandated can never be taken off the menu.


Of course, there is always seafood to start in Galicia, and we enjoyed a first – an oyster dressed with lightly pickled mandarin oranges (€5.50), succulent little scallops in their shells and a plate of lightly smoked fried langoustines ( €16).  We continued with “torreznos” – pork rashers from  Soria crunchy with a sesame seed coating (€12), steak tartare uniquely garnished with Bearnaise sauce to mop up with grilled croissant sections instead of toast (€12) and were sorry not to have room for a delicious-looking skilletful of duck baked in the wood-fired oven with rice and grilled slices of foie, one of several unique signature dishes (€22 for a serving which would feed at least two generously).

Crunchy pork slices at Charlatan e1684432363751


That oven is also used to make those pizzas popular with locals who have no doubt already tried the dishes with all the bells and whistles and come to enjoy simpler food (there are classic margheritas as well as more unusual toppings) in a stylishly rustic ambience, all exposed stone and brick walls, textured marble table-tops and rustic, handmade pottery plates.  Though it was decorative glass dancing beneath our fabulous dessert – a creamy tart made with gooey Idiazabal cheese run under the grill.

Artichoke hearts with duck liver at Charlatan

The wine list contains some fine bottles from all over the world – it’s strong on Bordeaux and features Barolo – but we were more interested in tasting some of the excellent wines fielded by Spain.  These included Val do Ceo, made by the very local Pagos de Brigante winery with the Branco Lexitimo grape, delicious proof that not every white in Galicia is an albarino, and Los Cantos, a fine red from Ribera del Duero – although it’s worth noting that Galicia also produces its own decent, if lesser-known, reds.

Creamy tart of Idiazabal cheese at Charlatan e1684432345304

It would be difficult to tire of the menu at Charlatan, which will suit everyone from couples looking for unique taste treats in a romantic setting to pizza-loving families in search of heartier fare, but for those who do, Ruben and Alvaro have three more restaurants in town, each fielding a different vibe – Intenso, Peculiar and the new Ultramarinos Galera. And for those who want to know more about Galician wine, there’s no better guide than Ruben’s friend Adrian McManus, a British expat whose Taste of A Coruna walking tours feature plenty of informative sipping stops.

Tell Me More About Dining At Charlatan

Charlatan, Galera 17, A Coruna Spain

Tel: +34 881 09 94 65

For walking wine and food tours of La Coruna, check out North West Iberia Wine Tours



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