Late Friday afternoon, we decided to drive to Malaga (7o kms. away) have dinner there and spend the night. Having lived in Marbella a year now, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never actually explored the city except to go to the airport or see my doctor.
The Spanish have dinner very late so we were able to make a last-minute booking for the first seating at 9:00 p.m. We arrived in Montana a quarter past nine and not surprisingly, we were the first ones to arrive.
This year-old restaurant in the city center is in a 19th century palacete (small palace) which was the former German consulate. The building has been beautifully restored and is now a gastronomic palace focusing on modern Mediterranean cuisine. A central courtyard typical to the region’s architecture provides outdoor seating in the warmer months and the back wall has been planted with several palm trees to create a lovely garden. Tables are spread out on both the upper and lower levels and the dining area has been transformed into a sllek space accented by abstract art and contemporary furniture.
The menu focuses on Mediterranean cuisine with a strong leaning towards regional specialties. This can best be experienced by the six-course tasting menu. We opted to go a la carte this time around and save the degustation for another time. (I should mention here that as it is Lent and it was a Friday, we guilty Catholics made sure to avoid ordering meat).
The sommelier helped us choose from their extensive list of 400 wines. We had the Naranjuez, a regional wine from the hills of Sierra Nevada in Granada. It was a 2004 vintage and was a light red composed of six varietals: Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
After placing our order we were offered the bread basket which had at least a dozen types of bread. We both chose two: corn and olive for me and wholewheat and olive oil for Alex. Amuses-bouches were set down on the table soon after – a shot of velvety smoked pumpkin soup with a sesame crisp.
To start, I had the grilled Chipirones served over potatoes cooked in squid-ink and Alex had the poached and truffled free-range eggs on crispy breadcrumbs. The smoky sliver of truffle contrasted well with the runny egg yolk and the crispy breadcrumbs. My appetizer of tiny grilled squid squid were fantastically fresh and the smashed lumpy potatoes that accompanied them tasted of the sea.
My main course was the one of the two fish specials that day – Pan-fried sea bass served with grilled baby vegetables – carrot, leek, fennel, cherry tomatoes and zucchini – drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and a splash of wine vinegar. It was simple, perfectly cooked, quite delicious and light. Alex had two typical and well-known Spanish fish together in one dish – the bacalao (cod) confit with hake cheeks in garlic and chili or more commonly known as “al pilpil”.
We finished the meal with a molten-centred hazelnut cake and spice ice cream for me – just like having a hazelnut flavoured baby cake oozing with liquid Nutella – and Alex had the dark chocolate cream with mandarin sorbet. Coffee was needed after those rich desserts and we ended the meal with two espressos served with petit fours of lime yoghurt shots, mini madeleines and a tiny spoonful of chocolate mousse. They were lovely to look at but we were too full to try any of them…..maybe next time..
It was a wonderful meal made even more special by the company and the fact that it was all spur-of-the-moment. Montana restaurant is a great reason to visit Malaga again.
Compas de la Victoria 5, 29012 Malaga
Tel: +34 952 65 12 44 or +34 952 26 32 81
TIP: There is a wonderful living room upstairs overlooking the courtyard which can be booked for private dinners.