Travels with a Gourmet

a food lover's travels, memorable meals, culinary trials and gastronomic experiences

Our last dinner out together was at the one-star Michelin El Lago in the Green Life golf club in Elviria. This was an interesting choice not only because of the one-star status but also for the fact that the chef is a 27-year old female – something unusual in Spain.

There were the usual suspects, C, T, my husband and I, F & S and their friend H. The restaurant is located right by the golf course and alongside the man-made lake hence the name El Lago (The Lake).

We arrived at 9 p.m. and were seated on the deck. All the tables were set up on outside overlooking the lake. As soon as we sat, menus were distributed, water and Cava served and a plateful of snacks were left on the table – thinly-sliced melba toast with a black olive tapenade, Parmesan crisps and some home-made potato chips. We took a vote on whether we should all have the tasting menu as in most restaurants, the whole table has to order the tasting menu. Since we had just been to SKINA the night before and did the tasting menu, we opted to go a la carte instead. We all ordered different things and chose a light red wine recommended by the headwaiter – a 2001 Cortijo Los Aguilares Pinot Noir from Malaga which was served slightly chilled.

A basket of warm bread – mini black olive baguettes and white rolls – was served with three types of olive oil. An amuse bouche came soon after – thinly-sliced octopus on vegetables. This first taste of the meal to come was not promising – the octopus was chewy and very salty and none of us finished it.

For starters, I chose the seared tuna with fruit couscous, F had the layers of pickled chicken breast, foie gras and caramelised apple, S had the foie gras terrine and the rest of the table opted for the avocado gazpacho. The two foie gras appetizers were good and my tuna couscous was okay although it was too salty because there was a lot of sea salt sprinkled onto the seared tuna. The avocado gazpacho was a disaster – the chef’s hand must have slipped when she was making this because the soup’s texture was perfect and green in color but all you could taste was the vinegar she had added – the worst gazpacho any of us had ever had. The meal went downhill from there.

Our main courses came after quite a wait – both men chose grilled lamb chops expecting something simple yet good, T chose the red mullet, C had the sea bass, H had another appetizer of foie gras as her main course while both F and myself had the John Dory with peaches. The lamb chops were fine but the presentation was nothing special with grilled vegetables on the plate with the chops off to one side. The red mullet was nothing more than the fish on top of mashed potatoes and served with a light broth while the John Dory and the sea bass were pan-seared and were accompanied by a fruit coulis that really didn’t help make the fish taste any different. During the meal, we had to keep flagging the waiter to get our water and wine glasses refilled and the headwaiter who took our order at the beginning of the meal never reappeared until it was time to show us the dessert menu. In another nearby table were a couple and their two young children with one of the kids asleep on the table – she probably couldn’t wait any longer for her dessert.

Three desserts were ordered to share just to give the kitchen one last chance to redeem themselves – a coffee mousse, fried chocolate and passion fruit sorbet. The coffee mousse came with cinnamon ice cream and an apricot granita, both of which did nothing to complement the coffee flavor. The passion fruit sorbet was fine but again nothing special – just 2 scoops served with sliced fruit. The joke dessert was the fried chocolate – melted chocolate (like syrup) served with fried donut holes (think Dunkin Donut’s munchkins). What could this chef have been thinking when she created this strange menu?!!! Suffice it to say that the company was the only thing that salvaged a terrible meal – without friends, this would have been a truly disastrous dinner – at the least, it was an unforgettable evening.

____________________

EL LAGO
Greenlife Golf, Urb. Elviria Hills
Avda. Las Cumbres
Marbella
Tel: +34 952 832 371

* Food – They definitely deserve their one star but in this case it’s for the bad food and not from the Michelin guide.

** Service – Not bad but for this type of restaurant, the waiters need to be more attentive.

*** Atmosphere – Pleasant enough on the terrace although the interiors look just like a typical golf club and is nothing special.

Tip: Not worth the trip although if you are in the area, you can go to have a meal, just don’t expect it to be Michelin standard.

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