Monkey Club is a fresh addition to the growing culinary reputation of the Puente Romano as a hub of fine dining in Marbella. Here the management of Casa Mono are creating a new experience that will prove to be every bit as iconic as the original restaurant that inspired it.

When Clement Mokeddel was invited by the illustrious Puente Romano Hotel to open a restaurant to form part of its growing offer of top-class eateries, he was understandably flattered. The creator of another well-known Marbella icon, Casamono, took it as a compliment and a sign that the philosophy that drives his restaurant has earned the respect and admiration of diners and peers alike.

“I love challenges and being thrown out of my comfort zone, as I believe this is when we excel and discover our true selves, so naturally I accepted this challenge,” says the passionate restaurateur.

Months of hard toil followed, during which Clement and his team worked to recreate the magic and the spirit behind Casamono in a new setting. “I remain true to the philosophy underlying Casamono, but Monkey Club is very much a restaurant with its own ambience, character and cuisine, and this comes from a unique mix of its location and the dining style that we create.”

While he constructed the menu and got his team – which he describes as ‘an interactive ecosystem’ – to operate like a well-oiled outfit, his wife Daniela Koffman designed a striking décor that adds eclectic elements to a contemporary, trendy feel that is stylish and sophisticated without feeling too formal.

“I wanted to bring back some of the old-school glamour of Marbella,” says Daniela, whose design evolved around two doors that once belonged to Puente Romano’s famous nightclub Regina but are now integrated into the bar design.

“Of course it helps that Daniela is a professional interior designer,” says Clement, “but even more that she knows our philosophy so well.” It is surely why Monkey Club has a look and feel all of its own while also retaining a link to Casamono. The different areas blend well, with two distinct but complementary dining zones also communicating with the open kitchen and the elegant backlit onyx bar to create a richly atmospheric venue.

The stunning art by Aldo Gigli, meanwhile, brings a jungle vibe to the surrounds. Though this is a trendy, upmarket restaurant you feel at home the minute you walk through the door, and as at Casamono, design, décor and ambience form part of the alchemy built around service, food and soul. “For us, the art of food is our business, and that is how we approach it.”

Artful food

If you like Casamono you’ll love Monkey Club. The restaurant offers the right setting to first enjoy some cocktails, and the menu bestows a delicious blend of fun and sophistication with a French touch.

On the night, we opted for a crisp, white Albariño wine – Pionero Mundi – from the Rias Baixas in Galicia that suited us beautifully throughout the evening.

The wine list also includes French and other international choices, but having remained faithful to a Spanish region we sampled gorgeous cold cuts and fresh bread before ordering beautifully prepared Monkey Style tiger prawns with olive oil, sage and basil, and a refreshing foie gras marinated in Sauternes.

These dishes add a delightful personal twist to classic inspiration, as is the case with the melt-in-the-mouth salmon fillet served with chard and vacuum-infused with citric sauce.

Now you’d think this would make it sharp and astringent but no, this is a wonderfully balanced dish that shows just how good simple, uncomplicated quality can be, and just how adept you have to be to execute it to perfection.

The same applies to the Galician beef fillet, with its pitch-perfect flavour and texture. The desert we chose was an Ile Flottante, a sweet French creation consisting of a meringue floating on alternate layers of alcohol-infused biscuits, ice cream and vanilla cream.

Already, this new restaurant feels established and polished, and with live DJs soon adding to the ambience, all that rests is to congratulate Clement, Daniela, Executive Chef Nicolas Fantasia for his amazing work as without him it would not be possible, and the rest of the team on creating what is set to be another Marbella landmark.

Words Marisa Cutillas / Photography Kevin Horn and Monkey Club

Hotel Puente Romano, Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso von Hohenlohe, 9/10, Marbella. Tel: 951 60 70 18.