If you could choose one word to describe El Chiringuito at the Puente Romano in the peak of summer, it would have to be ‘lively’. Busy with families, couples, and even business people in the mood for a sumptuous seafood meal, the restaurant is a veritable institution among foodies, as is its elegant sister, Sea Grill, just a few steps up from the beach.

On display, freshly caught salmonetes, sea bass, jumbo king prawns and other delights catch your eye as you make your way through the bar to your table. Also on hand is an expert ham cutter slicing two finely displayed patas into paper-thin slices. “One of the hams is the Jamón Ibérico Cebo de Campo, the other is Jamón de Bellota Puro 100%,” says Thomas Stork, Executive Chef of the Puente Romano. Indeed, there is always something new to look forward to at this resort. The enigmatic management is the perfect fit for the prolific Chef, who is passionate about bringing current world trends to the shores of Marbella.

A World of Flavours at the Puente Romano

The Puente Romano name may normally be linked to La Plaza and Sea Grill, but it actually has 12 different ‘points of sale’, including Pizza Romano (by the pool), private events, banquets, etc. The resort even had a food truck in front of La Terrasse for the summer, which was much appreciated by the revellers who enjoyed a night of dancing and drinks at this venue and its sister night club, La Suite.

The Espeto Experience at El Chiringuito

Thomas sums up what makes the culinary offerings and indeed, a stay at the Puente Romano, so different: “The resort’s ethos can be encapsulated in one question: ‘What do you want to do today?’.” Whether a paella and espeto cooking workshop, or a private romantic dinner for two appeals, the staff is ready to make it happen. And if espetos happen to be your thing, then you will most definitely be learning how to make them at El Chiringuito. “We have a master espeto cook who has been making this quintessential Malagueño dish for 55 years,” marvels Thomas.

The expert doesn’t just prepare espetos in the four-metre, sand-filled boat, either. Whole fish such as turbot and seafood such as squid and lobster are also grilled ‘on a stick’. Espeto-style cooking is just one of many world techniques employed at the Puente Romano. Chef Stork is into all sorts of heating and cooking methods and equipment, including the famous Josper oven (El Chiringuito); Robatayaki barbecues (for banquets); and charcoal barbecues, tandoori ovens, and Brazilian Rodizio barbecues at Sea Grill.

New Dishes and Classics at El Chiringuito

Because the Puente Romano takes such a personalised approach to cuisine, El Chiringuito’s menu changes seasonally, while maintaining tried-and-tested favourites. On my most recent visit I tried delights that were specially created for the summer. They included a beautiful lobster brioche filled with half a lobster – ideal with a glass of Albariño after a day tanning on the beach. Also on the menu was a vegan delight – charcoal-roasted cauliflower with pesto sauce, broken into pieces by the waiter and blended with the fragrant sauce, right by our table.

One dish that truly hit the spot was a refreshing burrata served with tricoloured tomatoes, a homemade fresh mint pesto, and summer truffle. The Chef is mad about truffles, ordering different types for the resort throughout the seasons and waiting anxiously for the highly prized white Alba truffle of the winter season. My dining companions and I also tried some of our old favourites, including the summer porcini risotto and truffle (so creamy and fragrant!) and the black rice – rich, flavour-packed, and made with catch-of-the-day Mediterranean red prawns and calamari.

El Chiringuito is more than a daytime restaurant; in the summer, it hosts full moon parties, where DJs spun hit tunes ‘til early morning. “We are consistently evolving according to the times,” notes the Chef, who honed his craft at two-Michelin star restaurant, El Lido, as well as beneath the guiding hand of the great Heinz Winkler. A big part of his job involves travel to new cities and towns, to bring new delights to our shores.

El Chiringuito already has all the magical ingredients necessary for success – a frontline sea location, freshly caught fish and seafood delights, a plethora of international cooking styles, and of course, the service the MC Group is famed for. However, staying at the top of its game is a prime objective for this hardworking team, who are always on the move to bring the best of the world to your table.