Monday 26 September 2016

Messina, Marbella, Spain.

One thing I've learned from my travels is to never try and second guess how you will feel about a particular restaurant. It's only by eating there yourself that you really know what it's going to be like. It may seem obvious but sometimes highly rated places you have high hopes for can ultimately disappoint. The opposite happens too. I had anticipated that Messina in Marbella would be a solid (recent) one star restaurant that would be pretty good. But I was not prepared to be blown away. We were! The food is excellent here. Especially the mid part of the meal of seafood, prawns, sea urchin, eel and crayfish dishes are exceptional, perfectly matching our own tastes. Chef Mauricio Giovanini and his wife, Pia Ninci (the maitre d') were away too. In their absence, the front of house and the kitchen performed admirably, a faultless meal with the superb service. The restaurant in the evening is romantically lit but this is not conducive to the best food photography so please excuse the lack of photos.
We sampled the slightly longer Menu Messina. (Priced at 78€).
Creamy parsnip with foie gras shaves. Typical Malaga's preparation with cauliflower and pistachio. Typical Argentinean manioc flour and pesto bread with marinated sardine. Sea urchin mi cuit and celery water. A beautifully simple combination, the rich sea urchin blends so well with the celery.
Shrimp and cold gazpachuelo. Eel, foie gras and cold dashi (an extra course).
Crayfish, coconut and red cabbage. Scarlet shrimp served with orange and basil sauce, pine nut and beans sprout. Boned Lobster: Body, head and pincer prepared with piquillo peppers sauce and the tartar.
Red Mullet with typical Argentinian sweet corn stew.
Thin slices of cured Iberian pork, creamy chilli and macadamia nut yoghurt.
Shredded Malaga's baby goat. (This was fine but we didn't love this course quite as much as the rest).
Desserts were lovely too. Green apple: sorbet and verdejo.
Red apple: Roasted ice cream with sponge cake and white chocolate ganache.
Creamy black and milky chocolate, dulce de leche and peanut.
We were so impressed with Messina, it was the icing on the cake of our final night in Spain,

In 2014, the Spanish newspaper ABC awarded Messina the 'Best Creative Cuisine Restaurant in Spain'.

Monday 19 September 2016

Antonio, Zahara de los Atunes, Spain.

Antonio is a traditional hotel and restaurant right on the long windswept sandy beach of Zahara de los Atunes. They specialise in fine local tuna here and the quality is unsurpassed. We walked in early for a mid week lunch and within the hour every table had been taken. Spanish folk tend to flock to the very best places with the most superior product unlike here in Manchester where cheap is king.
They bring us a fresh complimentary octopus salad.
Tuna Tartare. Very good but slightly over salted for our taste.
Foie toast and jamón ibérico. A perfect combination.
The pièce de résistance, red tuna sashimi. Absolutely beautiful. There is no need to add anything to product of this quality.
Antonio oozes quality and tradition. It's not cheap but the best things in life rarely are. It's the type of restaurant that the Spanish do so well and are therefore rightfully popular.
Lunch cost us just short of £80 for two.

Thursday 1 September 2016

Hawksmoor, Manchester.

I'm not sure I really like industrial styled restaurant interiors, I think they may look dated in a few years. I much prefer classic design like Hawksmoor in Manchester. It must be one of the most successful interior designs in our city. It feels like it's been there decades rather than eighteen months and it suits their food so well, it's such a beautiful room with such great natural light.
On this occasion we skipped the steak at lunchtime and went for a selection of starters, sharing it all like tapas. The Steak Tartare is a classic dish from this restaurant, I'd personally prefer less capers in my tartar as I want to taste the fresh flavour of the beautiful product which is lost a little.
Since our last visit they've added onions to the Bone Marrow which works well although I'd still prefer it without.
Potted Beef and Yorkshires is enjoyable too, especially when you fill the Yorkshire Pudding with the lovely gravy. Rib Mac and Cheese is I think and exclusive Manchester dish, I loved it, that molten cheese crust with the meaty filling, fabulous.
We loved Hawksmoor when it opened (see here) and still do, it's now an established Manchester classic.
Lunch cost two of us £45 with soft drinks.