Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Restaurant José Carlos Garcia, Malaga restaurant review

The Emperor’s new clothes; style over substance; a proper waste of money – all are phrases used by my dad to describe my penchant for posh restaurants.

In the main, I completely disagree with him. Then again, I would say that.

However, when it comes to the Michelin-starred Restaurant José Carlos Garcia in Malaga, he might be onto something.

The restaurant itself is immaculate. Located on the swanky Malaga quayside, the wall of one of the two dining rooms is a spectacular living garden; the kitchen looks like the bridge of a spaceship; the service is faultless; and the crockery (a menagerie of glass, china & gold) is amongst the finest I’ve encountered.

The food, meanwhile, was just meh. And at 110€ for the tasting menu it certainly shouldn’t have been.

Appetisers on the terrace looked the part but tasted like the understudy.

A wafer thin cracker was topped with an unpleasantly bitter algae powder and cream cheese whilst a a deep fried cornet filled with almond powder tasted worse than something straight out of a packet. A soft, salty, creamy, powdery tablet, wrapped like a sweet (a riff on a Spanish Christmas speciality) was lost on me.

A well-seasoned steak tartare was served in a mini bun which unpleasantly desiccated in the mouth.

Finally, an ice cold clam served with a cube of boozy margarita jelly did nothing to convince me that a shellfish cocktail is a winning idea. 

Thankfully, things got better as we moved indoors.

Excellent bread, a mix of white and seeded, was served with moreish red butter, a spreadable paprika-rich chorizo topped with blobs of carrot puree. 

A fragrant apple jelly topped with a cold, creamy, garlicky and nutty almond soup was an absolute treat. Apparently it was a take on an Andalusian classic called ajo blanco. 

Before soup
After soup
Dried red mullet was a little tough and fishy; not the best of combinations. It was paired with an underpowered black olive puree and an anonymous citrus puree. But just look at that beautiful plate.

Two types of cured mackerel; one pungently salty and the other milder in flavour were accompanied by mouth puckering pickled radish, spherified beetroot, pickled cucumber and mustard seed. The dish was pleasant enough but I'd have preferred a simply grilled piece of mackerel with a squeeze of lemon juice. But, look at that plate. 

A stunner of a grilled prawn was paired with ponzu and kimchi. However, there was no captivating whiff of fermented cabbage and the citric mayo was peculiarly fluffy. 

The next dish was a complete triumph. Perfectly flaky, soft, sweet hake was topped with roasted garlic and almonds, and bathed in a light chicken broth.

A beautiful piece of grilled red mullet was served with dry cauliflower couscous and a spherification of curry with all the refinement of chip shop curry sauce.

Beef sweetbreads were perfectly tender and served in a meaty sauce of unbridled luxury. However, a tepid risotto with pieces of raw onion detracted from the dish. 

Suckling pig was another of the night’s standouts. Crisp-skinned, tender, yielding flesh and a meaty jus were balanced by fragrant mango puree and pineapple.

The first of the desserts, Dougal the dog-esque kataifi pastry, sharp lemon sorbet, banana in caramel and mini meringues was another win. 

So too was a rich, not too sweet, chocolate parfait in a hot soup of vanilla and white chocolate with pieces of aerated chocolate and malty biscuit pieces (a bit like Weetos). 

Petit fours were so so - a strawberry marshmallow and a mini crème caramel hit the mark. However, fridge cold chocolate macarons and a piece of white chocolate with mint and strawberry were cumbersome. 

Despite the seriously hit and miss food we had a lovely evening. A superb bottle of sauvignon blanc (34€) eased the pain. However at 350€ including drinks and service for the two of us, I can’t help but feel disappointed. With that kind of dosh we could have had at least four meals at one of Malaga’s tapas gems

The Details:

Address - Restaurante JCG, Pza. de la Capilla, Puerto de Málaga, 29001
Telephone - +34952003588
Web -

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