Michelin-starred Restaurant El Lago, at Greenlife Golf east of Marbella, takes its name from the scenic artificial lake in front of the clubhouse above which it is located.

Words James Sinclair, Photography Kevin Horn

Michelin-starred Restaurant El Lago, at Greenlife Golf east of Marbella, takes its name from the scenic artificial lake in front of the clubhouse above which it is located.

Words James Sinclair, Photography Kevin Horn

Winning Staff

Dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant, particularly one which has held its star since 2005, may be thought of as a serious concern where you have to be on your best behaviour. At El Lago, however, it is a joyous affair, with a staff who greet you with a warm welcome and make you feel completely at ease throughout the experience. Headed up by restaurant Manager, Antonio Jiménez, accompanied by the Maître, Hassan Hatouchi, Head Waiter, Andrés Furlan, and José Antonio Gómez, Sommelier, they are friendly, professional, enthusiastic and endearing, and very eloquent about the creative dishes and matching wines being served.

The Head Chef, Fernando Villasclara, who hails from Nerja, completed his training at the prestigious Escuela de Hostelería de Benahavís before honing his skills in top establishments Mugaritz, La Bulla Gastrobar, and Hotel Puente Romano. He is an amiable young man who is passionate about his craft, often stepping into the restaurant to explain a dish to diners and to answer their questions.

We arrived on a balmy evening and took stock of our surroundings as we sipped on a welcome glass of Pommery Champagne. The décor is a mix of contemporary and traditional, with full length windows overlooking the lake and centrepiece fountain, solid linen-clad tables, chairs with leather seating, rustic tiled flooring, and paintings depicting culinary ingredients, all set off by ceiling spots. The exterior terrace is spacious, with modern furniture and glass railing surrounds affording full appreciation of the enchanting view. Soothing piano music creates a serene and caressing ambience.

Enthralling Experience

We could have selected from the à la Carte menu where, as you would expect from a gourmet venue of this calibre, an enticing range of starters, fish and meat dishes, including grilled cuts, beckoned. On this occasion however, we elected to try Fernando’s Tasting Menu. Comprising a mix of Seasonal Snacks, followed by eight distinct dishes and dessert, we settled in for an exciting encounter.

The snack mix really brought our palates to life, with Kuzu meringue, lactic cheese from Coín and pisto, half a tangerine filled with a creamy mix of pickled fennel and carrot, small tuna from Estepona in a sustainable vegetable consommé with smoked tuna and raisins, which was prepared by Fernando at our table. Beet and strawberry ‘porra’ with its tartar and green mustard, red prawns with garlic and caviar from Riofrío, and a sushi-like mini aubergine with pine nut baba ganoush and sherry, followed. These elaborate delicacies displayed an exquisite artistry and complied with the restaurants commitment to serve sustainable zero-kilometre cuisine, in this case taken to imply all sourcing of ingredients within a 100km radius.

The rustic breads we were offered as accompaniments are from Málaga’s oldest bakery, Ilustre, including an aromatic Moroccan-style preparation, were dipped into La Oliva Roja Hojiblanca from the Serrania de Ronda, and contrasting Castillo de Canena Pictual from Jaen, both Virgen Extra Olive Oils bearing personalised labels for the restaurant.

Suitably primed, our gastronomic adventure continued with a sequence of plates featuring locally-sourced ingredients, in order: seasonal vegetable gargouillou with chopped Málaga lettuce, leeks from Guadalhorce in pepitoria and smoked romesco sauce, beurre blanc of chard with white ‘quisquilla shrimps’, and red mullet from Marbella with a hollandaise of its livers with mango. Grilled veal sweetbreads in bigarade sauce with green beans and harissa, suckling goat from Málaga with mustard, capers and endives, and from La Axarquía, sweet potatoes with cane honey and muscatel grape granita. The different dishes composing the Menu Sazón are a visual extravaganza of colours and textures, delivering an array of exploding flavours in the mouth.

We savoured a variety of white and red wines with these delicacies, although these are optional, which proved to be phenomenal pairings, all the more so given their proximate origins of Jerez, Ronda, Málaga and La Axarquía. There is also a selection of international or very special pairings available for wine aficionados.

Our Michelin-medley came to a close with strawberries with pepper, green asparagus flan, and petits-fours, all of us in full agreement that a visit to El Lago is a must for anyone who appreciates fine gastronomy.


Restaurant El Lago, Avda. Marco Polo, Greenlife Golf, Elviria Hills, Marbella.
Opening hours: Midi (mediodía by El Lago):
12:30 – 16:00,
El Lago: 20:00 – 23:00.
Closed on Monday.
Reservations recommended.
Tel: (+34) 952 832 371