IT really did come as something of a surprise.
In what to some might seem like no-mans land between Estepona and Marbella sits a restaurant that is already starting to pull those-in-the-know from far and wide.
Everything to do with its chefs – and I say chefs because this is almost two different restaurants (more of which later) – Iglu really is worth tracking down.
In fact, you really can’t miss it as you spin off the bend at Benahavis, heading down into Benavista.
Part of a new buzzing corner zone, that includes D’Alicia and Golf City, it has done well to create a kind of capsule of its own; its charming dining terrace bedecked with lemon and towering palm trees and its staff suitable welcoming and knowlegeable.
And then comes the fun-part: Iglu ‘chill lounge’ as it markets itself has two very different, original chefs at hand.
During the day, its kitchen is at the command of Gemma Hammond, who cut her teeth cooking for Britney Spears, Jools Holland and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
A real Rock ‘n’ Roll chef, who also ran the catering at the UK’s famous V Festival, her menu is exciting and full of light bites with a classic Mediterranean twist.
But it was in the evening that I found myself last week, wondering if the sound of the N-340 was going to put me off my supper.
Not a chance and mostly thanks to the sort of food that night chef Michael Cameron is serving up.
This food technician, with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of cooking techniques, is going great guns having recently moved from his previous job as head chef at Polo House.
The former Harvey Nicholls trainee has a good grasp of Mediterranean ingredients and makes a real effort to plate up something attractive.
His tuna tartare starter with Wasabi gel and a ‘watermelon shooter’ was one of those dishes that you could eat every night of the week.
The freshest blue fin tuna finely sliced and lightly seared, it has a shaving of parmesan on top and a drop of cream to bring it alive. So good it was, the minute I turned my back, my wife had pounced on the last slice.
A salmon gravlax came admirably cured in beetroot and marinated in lime, while ‘farmhouse’ pate – actually a pork rillete – was delicious, served in a jar with apple compote and freshly baked bread.
My John Dory arrived in a flourish with a mound of sliced raw fennel, disguising a bed of healthy brown rice. The Sevilla oranges were a nice touch too.
Without a doubt, as is so often the way, the missus ended up with the gold dish, a splendid Thai-battered cod, in a chimichurri sauce and with some of the best chips around, cooked apparently ‘three times over’, whatever that means.
Break for the border, as they say, the borders of Estepona and Marbella, that is… ‘No man’s land’ has thrown up a real talent!