travel

African beats on the mediterranean

There are many beach destinations in the world but very few with the gastronomic buzz you will find in Marbella. Perhaps it is the Costa de Sol’s generations-old ‘chiringuito’ culture; the Malaguenos know all about creating a very particular atmosphere by the sea, seducing diners with their casual vibe, fresh seaside fare and cosy sunbeds. Within this group of beachside haves, Trocadero Arena has broken new ground. It has kept up the welcoming comfort factor but raised the bar of sophistication, turning to a rather unexpected source of inspiration for its interiors: Africa and its exotic natural and wildlife.

Description: The indoor Lounge

The indoor Lounge

The restaurant is divided into two main areas: the Beach Club and the indoor Lounge. From the al fresco Beach Club terrace, diners look out onto the sea and three rows of exotic parasols, made of different materials (thatched roofing, white sail shades and exotic ‘frou frou’ style grass parasols dancing in the wind) provide welcoming shade to the cosy hammocks located a few steps away from the sea.

The interiors are a whole other world… one seems transported to the Africa of Conrad or Coetzee, where dark wood, leopard and zebra prints, swaying palms and wooden ceiling fans, impart a distinctly British colonial feel… At the cocktail bar, you will find the barman juggling cocktail shakers, Tom Cruise style, to creative colourful, heady highballs which crush the stress monster with just one sip. The main bar, with a stunning portrait of a leopard and an inviting mixed thatched/wooden beamed roof, is an ideal spot to meet and greet. Here and there, you are surprised by unexpected touches like cosy fireplaces, colourful carpets and even a life-sized statue of Humphrey Bogart standing by a baby grand piano. But let’s not forget about the food, for the Trodero name has always been associated with serving seasonal cuisine which is no less than exquisite. The menu contains delicacies such as Almadrabe red tune, which is caught only in the months of April May and June, while the fish are migrating from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The fish is frozen at -600C, to ensure quality remains intact.

Description: The Beach Club

The Beach Club

There are two Chefs heading the kitchens: Juan Antonio Carmona (who honed his craft with Calima’s Dani García) at day-time and Miguel de Palma in the evenings; the menu is the same but presentation and ambience vary. The choice of dishes is wide enough to please all palates; diners will find everything from Iberian hams to Cantabrian anchovy, cheeses, sushi, salads, rice, pasta and wok dishes, fish and seafood, juicy steaks and much more.

Description: Russian salad

Russian salad

My dining companion and I began with a fitting summer starter: a Russian salad given an original twist with crab meat, topped with flirtatious spoonfuls of caviar. We then tried a mixed plate of sushi with delectable varieties including octopus, red tuna and prawns, washed down with a chilled glass of Rueda. Budding sommeliers will be impressed by the wine list, which boast excellent varieties from Spain, Italy and France, as well as New World Wines including the exquisite Cloudy Bay Sauvignon from New Zealand.

Description: A delicious chicken wok

A delicious chicken wok

For our main course, we tried a delicious chicken wok (generously sized and bearing an irresistibly sweet Oriental flavour) and a grilled Almadraba red tuna, juicy and almost meaty in slavour, served with a delightful Greek yoghurt and mint sauce. The dish was, in a word, outstanding; a must any self-respecting fish fanatic.

Description: A grilled Almadraba red tuna

A grilled Almadraba red tuna

The dessert was also a knockout, revealing the chefs’ unique talent for marrying flavours and textures. Warm and cool; sweet, tangy, bitter and salty found their way to a dish that serves up a chocolate volcano in a way probably have never experienced: surrounded by vibrant red crushed salty crackers, vivid green matcha (Japanese green tea powder), a scoop of vanilla ice-cream topped with a rich mango sauce, and strawberries and cream. Not being a sweet tooth, I don’t often wax lyrical at dessert time but this temptation is capable of steering even the staunchest dieter away from the path of righteousness… it was a fitting end to a meal that can only be described as perfect from start to finish, in terms of quality, flavour, ambience and service.

 

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