Journalists tend to be a difficult lot to please. Most normal people invited to a luncheon presentation at a popular restaurant would be joyously salivating all morning and dancing a small jig of delight as they scampered through the establishment’s front door. Journalists – especially those who have managed to entrench themselves as their media’s gastronomy correspondent – are considerably more blasé about these things.
There are, however, exceptions. One such was the invitation Home & Lifestyle received to a press lunch at Rancho Grill. The gnashing of teeth and livid looks that accompanied our self-designated head foodie as he hurtled out the office door show just how prized this particular restaurant invitation was, to the extent that someone audaciously suggested a staff raffle be held on this occasion to determine the privileged invitee. The ploy failed dismally, thwarted by the aforementioned correspondent’s rather intimidating and certainly undignified tantrum. But we digress… Rancho Grill’s reputation as a haven of gourmet excellence is well-founded. Owned and run by Belgian husband and wife Ghislain and Vera, whose abiding passion for food and wine is eminently palpable, the restaurant – located on the eastern outskirts of Marbella municipality – ticks all the culinary boxes: enchanting ambience, excellent service, convenient private parking, exquisite cuisine and an (arguably) incomparable selection of Spanish and French wines. Considering the establishment’s name, it would be easy to perceive it as a steakhouse or “mere” grill restaurant. As Vera stresses, however, it is so much more. Meat is indisputably its star speciality – from chateaubriand to oven-baked roast of lamb – but the extensive, high-end menu truly caters for all tastes. A group of 10 diners could quite easily each savour a distinctive dish, created to accommodate their diverse array of preferences by a multi-national kitchen team.
The chef’s recommendations for starters, for example, include steamed green asparagus with marinated pumpkin and quail eggs, and scallops sautéed with mushrooms and potato puree, while other favourites are salmon sashimi with ginger, soya sauce and wasabi emulsion, and beef carpaccio with rocket salad and parmesan – complemented by several different salads.
For the mains, tender pork loin with tarragon-flavoured pear, a Surf & Turf combination of beef fillet and king prawns, magret of duck, chicken tikka marsala, two textures of cod, and a hot pot of rabbit cooked using a recipe lovingly preserved from Vera’s grandmother. Not to mention the star of the show: Rancho Grill’s signature Béarnaise sauce, freshly prepared to order for each client.
And then the desserts… including dark Belgian chocolate fondue with seasonal fruit, and Belgian white and black chocolate duo. As we mentioned before, Rancho Grill is especially famous for its bodega. Sommelier Alfonso is on hand to offer authoritative advice on 350 different wines ranging from moderately priced to absolute top-of-the-range, including champagne from Ghislain’s private cuvée and two local Spanish wines he personally blended with a professional enologist. “We don’t just buy wine and put our label on it,” says Vera. “We create it together with the bodega.”
The restaurant ambience is also an enticing lure for discerning diners. In addition to a spacious outdoor terrace (enclosed during the colder months), Rancho Grill features its own special private areas: a wine corner for private parties and tastings, up to a maximum of eight people; a gin bar, where the sommelier weaves his cocktail magic; a chic Captain’s Corner for six guests; and the Tiffany Room, which can cater for celebrations of up to 30 people and features on its walls the restaurant’s endearing dog-themed paintings.
On Saturday evenings, the restaurant has live music – soft, non-intrusive sounds for those enjoying a romantic dinner or even later fancying a dance. Bookings are also now open for New Year’s Eve, which this year has one significant change: instead of a la carte, Vera and her team have prepared a reduced a la carte menu including Rancho Grill’s most popular dishes, and the option of a wine package by Alfonso – plus live music by Eric and Sofia, traditional Spanish “cotillón” (festive adornments and objects), grapes as midnight strikes, and a decoration with the wow-factor created by Vera herself. Ghislain and Vera also have also have another restaurant, Grill del Puerto, which offers diners the same menu and culinary philosophy in one of Marbella’s most exceptional settings – frontline Puerto Banús (next to Picasso restaurant).
El Rancho Grill: Urb. Caribe Playa, N340 exit 194 Las Chapas, Marbella
Open every day non-stop till late
Tel. (+34) 952 831 922
email@example.com / www.grillelrancho.com
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Grill del Puerto: frontline Puerto Banús, Marbella
Open every day non-stop till late. From15 November closed on Tuesdays and open on Wednesdays from 5pm.
Tel. (+34) 952 831 922 / 661 309 768
firstname.lastname@example.org / www.grillelrancho.com
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