AS I sip a fabulous Gin Mare at the bird’s nest bar to the stern of the Sunborn Hotel, I can’t help but think this was a masterstroke.
High above the Friday night throng of Ocean Village, there is a distinct sense of calm and, above all, privilege.
Overlooking lines of yachts and up onto the green slopes of the Rock, the terrace of the La Sala restaurant brings a whole new experience – and indeed focus – for diners and night owls in Gibraltar.
A much needed addition to the rapidly growing marina scene, this is an undeniable masterstroke for the Marbella restaurant group, now nearly a decade old.
The fifth in a chain of quality eateries, owned by a string of professional footballers – including Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shay Given and Raheem Sterling – this could well be the best yet.
Opening the restaurant aboard the purpose-built five star yacht hotel brings enormous prestige for the group headed up by expat businessman Ian Radford.
We step inside after our aperitif, to find a buzzing dining room of glamorous guests, dressed up for a special occasion, a business dinner with clients, or romantic night out.
One of the most original cover bands I have heard for years, the La Sala Project, are belting out songs by the Clash and Cure and Kings of Leon and Kaiser Chiefs, in a clear salute to the stars of the recent Gibraltar Music Festival.
We are led to a grey slate velvet banquette with a good view of the stage and quickly thrust a comprehensive, detailed menu.
A wine list has a good mix of Spanish and international wines and we are guided towards a Pesquera crianza that had a wonderful bouquet and consistence.
So far so good, the menu throws up a large range of the La Sala classics that thrill diners in Marbella, San Pedro and back in London.
A glass of gazpacho arrives with some nibbles and soon a beef salad of rocket and mixed leaves with hoisin sauce, pesto and olive tapenade, is working well as a starter.
Following on, a parcel of smoked salmon is generous to the point of lunacy.
For mains we opt for the stand-out dish of lobster and prawn linguini, plus my favourite crispy duck pancakes.
The amazing caramel cheesecake is the perfect finish, rich and easily enough for a family of four.
Soon we are back out on the terrace enjoying the midnight air and noticing how the earlier hubbub below is slowly settling down.
Thankfully, we can enjoy a decent nightcap before heading back to our great value pre-booked room on the boat below.
All in all a fabulous evening, setting up perfectly a Saturday morning’s sightseeing around the Rock, one of the fastest growing and affluent economies in the world… and plenty to see for the tourist.