BEFORE I’d even had a chance to find a table, a fellow diner, who runs a nearby boutique hotel, informed me I was really going to enjoy my lunch.
“The food is fabulous and the service is outstanding,” she said. “I recommend the restaurant to all my guests.”
High praise indeed, but as I soon discovered it was completely justified.
The charming La Estacion in San Pablo Buceite, based next to an old railway station on the Ronda to Algeciras line is not just a great place to wait for a train; it should be the reason for the journey in the first place.
Nieves Dominguez, 46, – who runs the restaurant with her son Samuel, 24, – is a self taught chef who has transformed the restaurant into one of the gems of Andalucía.
“When I started I invited all my friends round to try the different dishes and asked them to rate each meal on a score card, and that is how I decided on my first menu,” she explained.
“It is important to me that my customers are happy and there is a nice atmosphere.”
Certainly the restaurant with two dining rooms and a lovely terrace on the station platform takes character from the assortment of fascinating objects scattered about, including a station master’s uniform.
But more than anything it is the food that sets it apart.
In particular, the sliced apple with foie gras and goats cheese with a Pedro Ximenez wine reduction is a fabulous combination of flavours and the grilled artichokes with ham and garlic was also delicious.
Meanwhile for a main course I can strongly recommend the fresh salmon stuffed with salmon mousse and served with mango sauce, the grilled Monkfish and King Prawn brochette or the fillet of venison with raspberry sauce.
The whole meal was a delightful experience combining fabulous food, a wonderful setting and attentive service.
“My mum is a true professional,” Samuel said as I left. And I definitely agree.