Tanino in Benamara offers the whole package: ambient fine dining, a winter terrace and lounge area for tapas and drinks, and a lively summer terrace with bar in the summer.

There is a perception in Marbella that true cuisine, quality service and stylish décor – as in calibre restaurants – can only be found between the town centre and Puerto Banús. The truth is that there are some very good restaurants across the greater Marbella area, such as Tanino Restaurant Bar, a now well-established venue popular among residents and seasonal visitors alike.

During the summer months, much of the focus is on the attractive terrace which, with its cosy sitting areas, Bacardi bar and live entertainment, has become something of an institution in these parts. The interior, meanwhile, features some of the most attractive décor of any restaurant in Marbella.

Many embrace the current design trends but few have the rich ambience and eclectic chic of Tanino. What’s more, this is a restaurant that fits many moods and occasions, as it also offers a welcoming winter terrace popular with smokers, a tapas area and attractive sofas where you’re welcome to pop in for a drink, some cake or a hearty snack.

In winter there is live music on Friday nights and in the summer a full schedule of diverse acts and events. The restaurant has the space to accommodate these different zones, yet the individual areas are connected in such a way that they engage with one another while remaining intimate and cosy – perfect for a romantic dinner like the upcoming Bollywood-themed Valentine’s Day evening, which will transport you to the flavours and ambience of India, complete with live music.

Together with attentive service and an engaging menu, it makes for the kind of dining experience that you look forward to with anticipation. Great choices and flavours In addition to an exciting mix of Spanish-Asian fusion in its tapas, Tanino offers a menu that concentrates on selected choice delicacies from around the world.

In this way you can enjoy Thai and Indian curries while your companions choose more classic Mediterranean dishes or give in to their cravings for quality Argentinean grilled meats. Vegetarians and vegans are well looked after too, with options that extend beyond salads to include made-to-measure vegetarian versions of meat-based spring rolls, pastas, curries and grilled dishes.

Head for the terrace, the lounge or the tapas area and you can count on delicious snacks in a suitably trendy setting, but if you opt for the dining room expect true quality. Not surprising when you know that the chef used to work at Skina.

We had the chance to sample a truly representative range of Tanino dishes and the tone was set right from the off with beautifully crispy and peppery lentil poppadoms. With one of Spain’s best mixologists manning the bar, Tanino is famous for its cocktails, and the Ginger Ale, Ginger Beer and toasted mango chutney taste sensation certainly lived up to expectations.

It formed an interesting and surprisingly effective combination with the slightly smoky red tuna tartar served with homemade brioche. The coco and seafood soup with langoustine-filled wonton and seasonal vegetables is equally rich yet sensitive in flavour, while the homemade gnocchi filled with beef and a gorgonzola, tomato and pine nut sauce confirms why it is one of the restaurant’s favourite light starters.

The wine menu offers an ample choice, including a refreshing Chardonnay from Navarra – which we enjoyed with the Chicken Tikka Massala and spinach Saag Bahji with langoustines and white rice. The attentive maître d’ brought us classic chilled Daiquiris as we were joined by Tanino’s owner, José, whose passion for design, food and fine wine has made the restaurant what it is.

Argentinean-born, he naturally knows his meat, as was evident in the gorgeous Black Angus steak served with grilled vegetables, but Tanino also produces a Mama’s Sole a la Parmesana that makes you want to run off with the recipe.

The fish was accompanied by a La Ola del Melillero white wine made from Pedro Ximenez and Muscatel grapes and produced in the Sierras de Málaga, while the equally succulent beef was paired to a red Ribera del Duero charmingly called ‘El Primer Beso’, the first kiss.

This wonderful sampling of what Tanino offers was concluded with two delicious desserts – a rich but fresh chocolate and Oreo mousse with vanilla cream and gianduja chocolate ice cream, and a white chocolate biscuit with fondant style warm mango cream filling served with Bulgarian frozen yoghurt.

They are both delicious but the ‘mango fondant’ is a homemade creation that has become a Tanino classic of which José is just as proud as The Whim, which made the semi-finals of the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition 2017.

Made with Bacardi, St Germain liqueur, mint, natural pineapple juice, lime juice and a slice of fresh caramelised pineapple, it is very much Tanino itself: spicy, refreshing, stylish and exciting!

Words Michel Cruz / Photography Kevin Horn

Open daily from 12pm to 1am. Ctra. de Cádiz km 168, Urb. Benamara, Estepona. Tel: 952 883 259.