Mi casa su casa is Spanish for “my house is your house” or the more commonly used phrase, “make yourself at home”.
So when I booked dinner at a restaurant called Mi Casa Su Casa in Bispham, just outside Blackpool, it was what I expected. And that’s exactly what I got, so much so that I almost asked for a part-time job there.
The only restaurant in a row of hair and beauty salons, Mi Casa Su Casa looks like the kind of place you see on vacation in the Mediterranean, where you pop in for tapas and a beer, a cheerful waiter ushering you in inside like a long-lost friend. Granted, we were closer to Blackpool seafront than the Costa del Sol, but the welcome was just as warm and familiar.
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There are only about seven tables inside, which is clean and simple, with pops of color and nods to traditional Spanish culture, such as a painting of a matador and a couple dancing the bolero. I especially loved the beautifully patterned ceramic tiles on the walls which looked like they were custom made for the restaurant and the fresh flowers on the tables were a nice touch.
Although it was a relatively laid back venue, with an open kitchen and a relaxed atmosphere, the waiters were all smartly dressed in black waistcoats and white shirts, again a nod to the traditional Spanish mesero . But I have never come across a team of servers – anywhere in the world – that has been collectively so witty, efficient and friendly.
They were so sharp and for lack of a better word, experts in ‘jokes’. I’m quite sarcastic and I don’t take myself very seriously, and I don’t know how, but they seem to have understood that immediately. I accept that this approach doesn’t work for everyone and some people just like to be left alone to eat, but we swallowed it. It was also impressive how the staff knew almost everyone. This told us that this place had built a loyal following, but it was time to find out if it was also because of the food.
And oh, wasn’t that fair. Mi Casa Su Casa is definitely not all talk. We are the type of people who like to try a variety of dishes – meat, fish, vegetables – especially when it comes to a menu of tapas and small plates to share, like this restaurant was.
So we ordered the bread basket (£2.70), which was soft and mealy and came with a brilliantly tangy balsamic vinegar and creamy garlic dip while we waited for the rest, with the bread in the mushroom garlic from the vegetarian tapas section (£7.80) served as a starter.
Served on a long plate, the four toasted ciabatta-style slices were piled high with soft, buttery mushrooms, infused with garlic and chili, giving it a delicious little heat. Neither of us spoke as we gulped down every last crumb, the server laughing as he came to collect the empty plate about two minutes later. “You didn’t like it then?” he asked with a wry smile.
We chose four dishes to share for the main course, pincho moruna (pieces of marinated pork tenderloin, £6.10), pescado frito (four pieces of Mediterranean fish on a bed of roasted vegetables, £11.95) , a tomato salad (£4.30) and Tortilla Espanola (Spanish omelet with vine tomatoes and balsamic glaze, £3.60).
We also tried to order a portion of fries, and what I think was the first while eating, the waiter told us we probably wouldn’t need them with the breads, so we took his advice. And he was right, with two small plates and two portions to share enough for both of us.
The pork was seasoned to perfection, with a rich and intense flavor but still quite rich. Each piece had clear juice, which created a bonus sauce to sit down, preventing it from drying out. The fish – cod, bass, haddock and hake – each had a wonderful golden top layer. Underneath they were fabulously flaky and fell off the fork easily and actually had quite a meaty consistency.
Each had a particular flavor and they were served on a bed of vegetables, which were mild, mostly peppery and added color and vibrancy to the dish. The salad featured huge wheel slices of deep red ripe tomatoes covered in a bright, sweet glaze and topped with tart green onions, while the omelet was my personal highlight.
Billed as a giant wedge from Trivial Pursuit, it was so much fluffier and lighter, with the potatoes and onion adding a crispier texture to the well-whipped eggs. We finished with two homemade desserts from the display, each prepared and cooked on site by the chefs.
The tiramisu and lemon & raspberry cheesecake (£5.30) were presented brilliantly with a scoop of ice cream, extra fresh fruit and a lovely shot glass. The former was indulgent and nailed the delicate balance between sweetness and bitterness and was sweet, gooey and chocolatey, while the cheesecake was tangy and creamy with a nice crisp caramel base almost like Biscoff.
At one point we spoke with the owner (who started his professional life as a gopher on a construction site), who told us that the restaurant was so busy that people often told him to come to the unit vacant next door. But he has resisted so far, not wanting to spoil the privacy and attentive service enjoyed by his diners, and the reputation he has taken so long to build, when his kitchen is also too small to accommodate no more tables currently.
We left after exchanging more laughs with the servers and I was especially beaming after the waitress gave me a pretty sincere compliment. An unexpected boost on a Tuesday evening in March.
He then revealed that the waitress was only 16, it was her first job and that night was her third shift. “You wouldn’t have guessed that,” I said, because she was excellent, and he also said that having fewer tables means he can give her the training and attention she deserves, which I found quite thoughtful, especially in an industry where employee turnover can be high, salaries low and working conditions poor.
It sounds contrived or even a little silly to say it, but we felt like we had just had dinner with friends, as we said adiós te veo luego at the door as we walked out. However, I’m glad we booked in advance because if we wanted to return we might not be lucky enough to get a table, as this lounge cafe is often and rightly full.
re foodviews of Denise Evans are published every Sunday morning. The restaurant didn’t know we were coming and our review is anonymous.
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