Southern Spain in September. The hordes have gone, the beaches near to Sottogrande offer spectacular views of the mountains and the beach restaurants are still open.
My first attempt at the above establishment without booking turned out to be fruitless. A two hour wait for a table ensured I made a reservation for the following day.
The setting was a delight. The tables were set far apart and the view and sound of the sea made for a very romantic setting. Pity George Clooney was busy that day.
A reassuringly small menu led me straight to the dorada (sea bream) grilled simply and served with potatoes. I chose a goat’s cheese salad to start and a glass of the house rose.
Here I must mention the excellent service I received all round. A good ratio of staff and all very attentive and eager to please, without the up selling or the continual topping up of wine as soon as you’ve had a thimbleful that I find so irksome and sadly ubiquitous in the UK.
Salad in Spain is a different thing all together to the limp, often completely dull offerings that pass for salad in the UK, unless you are prepared to pay a small mortgage for it. The sunshine is a major factor of course – the tomatoes sweet, the lettuce fresh and vibrant and I have to say the goat’s cheese had a wonderful texture and depth. Drizzled with a little honey and served with some decent bread, it was a jolly good start to the meal.
Native wine is another huge bonus on the pocket. London commands a price of about £8 for a very average glass of wine and I find it thoroughly offensive. The rose was dry and perfectly acceptable for less than half the price.
When the bream came out it looked as handsome as could be and the taste of the fish put the most enormous smile on my gob. Moist, flaky, it needed nothing but a squeeze of lemon juice and a little pepper.
This kind of eating is just what you want. Fish that demands and delivers spot on timing, a good glug of wine, a simply gorgeous setting and a band of delightful waiting staff. Hats off to you all.