Ride off between ambiance and excellence…11-01-2010
Located on the prestigious Golden Mile in Marbella, one is transported into old world elegance at the Polo House, the infamous James Hewitt´s latest venture.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the cordial and charming hostess, Aguilene, and escorted to a beautiful, rich wooden bar to sample an ambrosial cocktail.
No detail has been left to chance in the Polo House; from the dim lighting that gently changes colours, to the polo stick door handles, the uniforms of the staff, the monogrammed napkins, plates and lightshades, original gold Magelesa cutlery (very stylish although the knife did not balance very well on the plate!), to the high quality menus themselves that also serve to introduce the world of Polo to the uninitiated, (originally a training game for cavalry units in Persia (Iran), and later formulized and popularized by the British).
After reviewing the fantastic selection of concoctions, Aguilene recommended the signature Champagne Cocktail, “The Ritz”. The adept mixologist prepared a seemingly innocuous blend of 25ml Martel VS Cognac, Cointreau and sugar infused with Angostura and Orange Bitter adding a continuous stream of fizz to the already effervescent champagne with a swirl of orange peel thrown in for effect; an elegant and enjoyable libation.
We were escorted to our table and I can honestly say that the Polo House is the sort of place that you want to enjoy a long, leisurely dinner; plush, wonderfully comfortable chairs, live music, expensive drapes, muted colours, perfect lighting, black and white photos carefully shot of polo plays in Sotogrande and rich wooden framed glass cabinets with fine wines and polo memorabilia, all of which create a certain colonial charm and make for a very agreeable atmosphere.
We deliberated over the enticing menu of modern European cuisine for some time and were pleased to note that our server was knowledgeable about the wines and made some valid suggestions. Three types of breads were served; Five Cereals, Rye and White bread, they were not warm but they were homemade and delicious and were served with excellent house cured olives with a hint of thyme, cream cheese and a side of butter.
Luis Pacheco, the courteous and professional General Manager, suggested we try a new white that they will shortly be introducing on the menu. The “Satrico” a 100% Chardonnay from Lacio, Italy which was very reasonably priced at 28€; buttery (although not as buttery as an Aussie Chardonnay) with floral hints, and although not a lot of length on the palate, it had a nice bouquet of oak and was pleasantly drinkable.
The Chef sent out an amuse bouche of sugar cured salmon with herb cream which was clean and fresh, the excellent quality of the salmon was unquestionable and it was this freshness of ingredients that set the tone for our evening´s culinary journey which commenced with the Cornish Crab Ravioli. The Crab Ravioli had the lightest blanket of homemade pasta gracefully laid over a very generous portion of fresh crab. The “ravioli” was served in a light ginger and coconut bisque, it was a “meaty” plate served with asparagus tips that were cooked to perfection. The flavours were delicious and although the sauce was delicate, it was quite a rich dish.
Next we sampled the Foie Gras Terrine with Black Pudding Brioche, served with a sweet Malaga wine jelly. The Foie was excellent, smooth, creamy and flavoursome, a superb dish that for Foie lovers deserved a 9/10. I loved the Black Pudding Brioche, which was the lightest of crumbly breads with the merest hint of sweetness and the black pudding coming through in the after taste, soft delicious and comforting. The Gherkin, Malaga wine jelly and red wine-vinegar-sugar pickled onions added necessary contrast of sweet and bitterness to the Foie. Luis once again made an excellent wine suggestion, the “Late Harvest”, a delicious, sweet 2007 Riesling from Chile, honey smooth and citrus apple which tasted like nectar from the gods.
Pan Roasted Turbot “Steak” served with creamed Cornish crab and chicory followed, the caramelized orange star anise sauce was light and delicious however there was not enough of it and the fish was bland without it. The side of creamy, perfectly seasoned mashed Potatoes were buttery and delicious however the dish looked insipid and was lacking in presentation; this was surprising in a restaurant that has obviously paid painstaking attention to detail and strange that this discernment was not carried through to the food itself - even just a green leaf or slice of orange would have made this dish more aesthetically appealing and brought it alive.
The Confit Shoulder of Galician Lamb had been cooked for 7 hours at 80º and was tender, rich and full of flavour. The caponata was smoky and intense and the nutty ratte potatoes were served crushed with a well seasoned and flavoursome jus nicely contrasted by the mint pesto. The plate was a great winter plate and good home cooking at its best.
Luis selected a Beaujolais Villages Nouveau Cuvee tradition from 2009, a young fruity wine that was served a little chilled and was a good compliment to the richness of the meat; however it is probably not a wine that I would choose to drink on its own.
To end the meal on a sweet note, we tried The Crispy Banana Tart, syrupy bananas over light, buttery pastry with delicious homemade rum and raisin ice cream (all the ice creams are homemade) and shavings of fresh coconut which were anything but superfluous. The colourful seasonal fruits served with sparkling cava and passion sorbet were fresher than fresh and a wonderful pallet cleaner.
There was a nice selection of wines from across the globe with some great choices of wine by the glass, for example; Cloudy Bay priced at 10,50€, however surprisingly none of the vintages (except in one or two bottles) were indicated on the wine list which is inexcusable in a restaurant of this calibre.
Polo House is also a great place to go just for a drink and if you do not feel like a full dining experience, the “Chukka Tukka” menu at the bar offers some delicious appetizers. There is a fantastic atmosphere in the restaurant with live music; be it a pianist on the baby grand piano crooning old favourites (most nights there is a pianist), followed by DJ Tristan who really knows how to raise the temperature and who is accompanied by a Saxophonist and Violinist on the weekends who raise the tempo even more. The Polo House also puts on some great shows; from Burlesque to the Four Tops bringing back the idea of after dinner entertainment and fulfilling a much needed gap in the market for something different here in Marbella. I can personally vouch for the fact that they are great fun and it is impossible to stay rooted to your seat!
We had a really enjoyable evening, although for such prices I would have expected more of a wow factor from the food as the prices are high, and the fact that they do not include IVA on the menu is just plain wrong. They got so many things right in the Polo House, catering to a definite gap in the market with the concept of dinner and entertainment. So although on the one hand, at face value it is expensive, what you are really paying for is a good meal in great surroundings with excellent entertainment and first class service and when all that is figured in to the equation there is no doubt that the Polo House merits a visit and the chance to have a decent meal and enjoy a fantastic, fun filled night.
Restaurant Review at a glance: (1 to 10 i´s of success) Ambiance 10 i´s Service 9 i´s Portion Size 9 i´s Wine Selection 7 i´s Price vs. Quality 6 i´s (for food alone) Price 80€ +/- (price per person based on a three course meal for 2 people with a bottle of house wine) Overall 8 (feel good factor after paying the bill)
Restaurant Review at a glance: (1 to 10 i´s of success)
Ambiance 10 i´s
Service 9 i´s
Portion Size 9 i´s
Wine Selection 7 i´s
Price vs. Quality 6 i´s (for food alone)
Price 80€ +/-
(price per person based on a three course meal for 2 people with a bottle of house wine)
Overall 8 (feel good factor after paying the bill)
+34 952 900 380
By: Nicola Vieira Rodrigues
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Dude what good is a restaurant review if it just tells you what the owners want to hear? Finally real reviews of restaurants in Marbella!Finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Honest food reviews!!!!! Awesome Johnny!!
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