REVIEW: Creative, evolving BonAmb is the place to eat well on the Costa Blanca

Javea Bonamb Jon Clarke 1

THEIR ladders were carefully pinned to the vertical cliff walls of the Marina Alta area or hung down using ropes.

An ancient, thousand-year-old fishing method, the locals clambered down risking their lives particularly on days when it was too rough to go out on boats.

Then when close to the water they shone an acetylene gas lamp towards the sea, bringing fish up to the surface and easy to catch.

Called the ‘encesa’ method, this is the inspiration for this years new menu at Javea’s most famous restaurant, BonAmb.

Created by Alberto Ferruz with his sommelier and Maitre Pablo Catala, it proves beyond doubt that the very best fine dining is as much about theatre, concepts and textures as it is the food.

Javea Bonamb 5jon Clarke
The stylish interior at BonAmB. Photo Jon Clarke

“We wanted to pay tribute to the brave men who caught the fish in this way and the menu is today 90% local fish and vegetables from the nearby huertas,” explains 37-year-old Alberto from Zaragoza.

“We try to be as seasonal as possible and use mostly local ingredients, but above all it is about the intensity of flavours,” adds the chef, who started working at the age of 16 and picked up lots of experience in Paris and San Sebastian, as well as nearby Denia, with Quique Dacosta.

Hot on the heels of his mentor (who is a close friend), Alberto is very much deserving of his two Michelin stars and definitely heading towards three.

BonAmb is an experience that any true gourmet in eastern Spain will need to try out.

Javea Bonamb Jon Clarke 1
Olive Press Editor Jon Clarke with chef Alberto. Photo: Olive Press

Aside from the stunning location, architecture and grounds, the kitchen guarantees a journey through the senses, like nothing else on the Costa Blanca.

This was my third visit, the second with my commercial manager Charles Bamber, to celebrate our three-year anniversary since launching an Olive Press edition here.

We had last dined here on our launch in 2019 and on this showing it keeps getting better.

Our guide for the night was co-owner Pablo, who once worked as a press officer and cameraman in war zones, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia.

And this tour of duty – the amazing ‘Canyis’ set menu of around 18 courses by my count – was not far off being as complicated.

Take the gazpachuelo soup, with sea bacon, cured monkfish liver and Mediterranean curry, this was not your average seafood fare. Nor was foie in ‘duke’s gunpowder’, a Mediaeval sauce, or eel juice and pickled mushrooms or flickering custard, with dill and salt.

He had his work cut out just explaining the dishes (and quite frankly none of his team were able to do it properly in English) and how best to enjoy them.

Matching up the menu with wines was a battle in itself, the countless fish flavours wreaking havoc with most wines. His suggestion of a Godello called 12 Casas was

Javea Bonamb 6jon Clarke
Delicious cuisine at BonAmb. Photo Jon Clarke

There were plenty of highlights, in particular the starter of celeriac crepe, with red mullet sauce and salted Chantilly cream. Its rich aftertaste still lingering now.

The cauliflower roasted in a Roman-style with black truffle on top was delightful as was the marine tartlet, with delicate flowers on top.

A real feast, out came white prawns from Santa Pola, an oyster in a rich creamy sauce, a sausage made out of a tuna, a sea urchin and a smoked clam with caviar. 

So much was eaten with the hands and everything was part of the overall ‘encesa’ story.

Charles Bamber Javea Bonamb 2jon Clarke
Reason to be cheerful – the Olive Press’s Charles Bamber samples a dish. Photo: Jon Clarke

By the time we had finished up some three-and-a-half hours later, it felt like a night out at the opera or a front row seat at Hamilton.

Entertaining in the extreme.

Forget the price of 135 euros a head, it would cost you that in the stalls at Covent Garden and you’d be paying a lot more for a glass of bubbly and a snack at the interval. Oh and there is a 95 euro menu if you’re on a budget.



Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

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