SOTOGRANDE is sprouting so many new restaurants and gastro bars this summer, you wouldn’t think Spain was only just emerging from recession. Many of the newcomers have latched onto the trend for tapas, artfully presented in an array of avant garde culinary concoctions .
One new addition is The Lemon restaurant, next-door neighbour and younger sibling of the Hairy Lemon, both owned by expat couple Lorenc and Liz.
Opened in February, it’s fast becoming one of the port’s top hangouts, serving freshly-prepared homemade dishes all day.
Head chef Adam, who has worked for Michelin-starred chefs in England and served with the armed forces in Afghanistan in his diverse career, is also a new arrival to Sotogrande.
This culinary magician has conjured up an eclectic and delicious menu, including 14 tempting tapas. Try his signature teriyaki duck breast for size. The complex, meaty flavour, enhanced by a delectable Asian glaze, sits perfectly alongside the zingy wasabi slaw.
For heartier appetites, opt for a three-course meal. Starters include a tangy blue cheese and pear terrine and a homemade chicken liver pate, wrapped in classic Spanish Iberico ham with caramelised onion jam.
For mains, you can’t pass up the fresh fish, locally sourced right on the doorstep. The pan-seared sea bass, smothered in a prawn bisque sauce, comes highly recommended.
For a more oriental experience, head for Si Siam in nearby Guadiaro. This Thai restaurant’s elegant courtyard is an idyllic setting for feasting on specialities like beef massaman, panang curry or steamed sea bass, infused with ginger and lemongrass.
Be sure to leave room for the speciality house dessert, banana cake with ice cream. It’s fingerlickin’ good..
Also in the port, it’s worth checking out the chic, Belgian-run La Terrasse, and Spinnakers, where you’ll get a warm welcome from Monica and Janus, who come all the way from Budapest.
For the tapas bar with the best views of the coast in these parts , the newly-opened Brasamar in Torreguadiaro, next to the beach, takes some beating. The chill terrace offers sweeping sea views while the kitchen serves up stylish tapas, fish, grilled meats and rice dishes.
You don’t expect to discover a Thai restaurant in an old country house but that’s one of the wow factors at La Finca, near Alcaidesa’.
This 200-year old rustic building was once the nerve centre for one of the area’s biggest estates.
Today Syrie Blanco Walsh, a descendent of the original owner, and her husband Chris, have turned it into an atmospheric escape full of quirky charm and decorative creativity.
Must-try dishes on the enticing Thai fusion menu include wild boar massaman curry and rosada baked in banana leaf.
Another fabulous secret dining spot is La Cabana, set in a stunning old cortijo on the Valderrama estate, next to the riding school.
It was opened last year by well-known local restaurateur, Juan Jose Barrero Pascual. The atmospheric restaurant spills out onto an expansive terrace overlooking manicured lawns.
Juan Jose used to own the Molino del Conde in Castellar, which has sadly closed. But the good news is, he has transferred the name to a new location in Pueblo Nuevo – the Molino del Conde Guadiaro.
The restaurant looks out onto a leafy avenue of trees, with a terrace at the rear, and specialises in trendy tapas, artfully presented. It’s hard to choose a star dish but the white chocolate pyramid, filled with fruits of the forest and ice cream, is pretty special.
Also in Pueblo Nuevo, look out for Henry’s, a sports bar with a friendly, laid-back atmosphere.
There’s a bar menu of good-value snacks and a choice of traditional pub games, including pool, table football and a competition darts board.
Another newcomer to the area is JB’s Cafe Bar in Torreguadiaro, recently renovated by owner Jane and her husband.
They are open seven days a week from 8am, for breakfast and lunch, and stock a good range of wines beers and spirits. If you’re one for indulging in ‘elevenses’, don’t miss their homemade cakes.