When we arrived at our destination, we found that the place was closed. Now we're in the Barrio de Santa Cruz in the old Jewish quarter with not a clue where to go to find another good restaurant. Our driver, sensing our dilemma, asked us if we wanted to try somewhere else that he recommended. We weren't sure what he said, but we said "yes" anyway. Heck, we were there for an adventure in a new place -- what did we have to lose. He brought us even further into the maze that is old Seville to the restaurant El Rinconcillo.
What a fabulous find!!! This has been a working restaurant in one form or another since 1670 in the same location. The decor looks like it has not changed a bit since then. Hundreds of hooks in the ceiling once held the famous hams of the region and a few precious delicacies are still hanging over the bar (although I am sure they are not 333 years old).
We were escorted to a table in the area behind the bar by Jamie, our English speaking waiter. Jamie was fabulous and took over our menu choices once he determined who wanted fish and who wanted meat. We left the rest up to him. He brought out platter after platter of ham, cheeses, roasted pepper salad, grilled baby fish, grilled grown-up fish... He was wonderful and explained every item to us including a tutorial on the various sherries for which Southern Spain is so famous. He even took the time to write down the names of some of the new things we tried so we would be able to order them again while we were in Spain. Our meal was so much more enjoyable because of Jamie.
We had at least 5 courses and multiple wines. We spent two and a half hours feeling like we were finally, really in Spain. Old men stood at the bar sipping their fino and discussing the problems of the world probably as they have been doing for over 300 years in the very same spot. The rooms are tiled and tables look like the originals from 1670. The food was wonderful and we would definitely go back when we are in Seville again.
But if you go to El Rinconcillo, you must ask for Jamie and you will be ensured of enjoying your time there eating, drinking and learning about the history of Seville and its cuisine.
Carmel, New York
February 7, 2003
From journal Sevilla in 48 hours