The sibling of the beloved Casanis, Café Flore has similarly become an integral part of what makes Marbella’s Old Town so special.

Strolling up the Calle Peral in Marbella’s richly ambient historic quarter is always a pleasure, as you pass by white-plastered houses and intimate little squares settled with contented visitors. This is the scene that greets you as you pass the Plaza Puente Ronda and come to the cosy little area dominated by Café Flore.

In true style, the interior carries the stylish touch of Guy Sirre, the restaurateur who has such a flair for creating a wonderful dining environment with a gastronomic offering to match. However, the main focus of Café Flore is the delightful terrace that looks out over the heart of the Old Town and absorbs its fundamental charm as it offers a unique dining experience.

Rich in Ambience and Flavour
Though it has an Italian-inspired menu, Café Flore is not just ‘another’ Italian restaurant. In fact, this is a very special eatery built around a particularly clear and refreshing philosophy – a private garden. You see, when Guy got his hands on a secluded little vegetable garden in the heart of Marbella, the idea was born to create a restaurant around its fresh, organic produce, and the result is Café Flore, whose menu is inspired by the rich cornucopia lovingly grown in its own ‘huerta’.

The celebrated Italian kitchen builds on beautiful produce in a very similar way, so the two concepts are perfectly matched, providing Guy and Café Flore’s chef Felipe with a broad palette to work with. And it shows in a menu that overflows with creativity in delightful contemporary versions of Italian classics such as Antipasti Misti, which balances delicious cold cuts of meat with a selection of fresh vegetables straight from the organic garden. Washed down with a refreshing Italian Pinot Grigio blush, in this case Ardesia from Venice, it’s a true Mediterranean pleasure.

An Authentic Dining Experience
Vitello Tonnato is another fine delicacy at Café Flore, where Guy has perfected many a classic to celebrate the Italian kitchen in style. Having thus set the tone for the evening, we eagerly looked forward to the main course as we enjoyed the bustling yet laid-back atmosphere of the Old Town. It was at this point that we were introduced to one of Guy’s finds – a Pinot Noir from Northern Italy called Castelfeder.

Served chilled, it is one of the lightest red wines I have ever tasted, and indeed the perfect match for the dishes that followed. In addition to a compact but very complete menu, Café Flore offers a range of daily specials based on the very latest produce. We chose from the latter Icelandic cod with shallots, grilled pepper, mini cebollettes, rissole potatoes and French beans, and a spaghetti carbonara.

It needs saying that the cod was excellent, one of most perfectly prepared fish I have tasted in some time, while the carbonara was a tour de force. Imagine not a dish of the ubiquitous pasta put before you but a special dining experience in which the spaghetti is flambéed in grappa within a huge scooped out Parmigiano cheese that is wheeled to your tableside. Served onto your plate by Federico, it is then expertly mixed with crispy Italian bacon, molten Parmigiano and egg.

The result is sheer heaven and, while this procedure is not uncommon in Italy, it is new in Marbella, where it’s gone down a treat with diners who also wish for a sense of occasion and fun. Guy changes the menu with the seasons, but I hope these two delightful dishes remain part of an imaginative offering that also includes little pizzas and tagliatas – making Café Flore the perfect spot for a drink and a snack.

It’s this cosy, laid-back atmosphere underlying a real food-lover’s restaurant that makes Café Flore such a popular choice. Naturally, the location helps greatly, but at the heart of it all is a clear philosophy built around service, fresh, healthy organic produce and a real dining experience. Having enjoyed the savoury side of Café Flore’s offering, we knew the sweet crescendo would not disappoint – and of course it didn’t.

We chose a gorgeous Panna Cotta topped with caramelised pears and a Financier almond cake with vanilla ice cream and strawberry slices, and also a small sample of the deliciously fresh caramelised aubergines.

It’s just the kind of tasty creativity that Guy is famous for, and from his point of view, Café Flore is still very much a project that is evolving, maturing and improving all the time. Given how good it already is, that leaves a lot to look forward to.

Words Michel Cruz / Photography Kevin Horn

Café Flore, Plazuela Puente Ronda, 5, Marbella. Tel: 952 770 535.