It is not often that I walk into an establishment and feel as though my mind, heart and soul have been arrested by an ambience so appealing, that it impresses as much as it welcomes. El Grill at the Marbella Club was the one restaurant at the famous Hotel that had eluded me, largely because I more often enjoy lunch, rather than dinner out.

This gastronomic haven, however, is definitely one to be enjoyed by night. Although it has a cosy indoor setting for the colder months, the ideal time for a visit would have to be right now: when the nights are cool and breezy yet still warm enough to dine under the stars.

The setting offers a unique chance to enjoy an intimate meal in the midst of a verdant paradise, where vertiginous palms are surrounded by quaint olive trees. Fairy lights embrace the foliage and add a touch of magic. Gracing one olive tree, is a pristine white candle sculpture, made, like the restaurant itself, patiently, with the passage of time. The slowly melting wax has formed a large abstract artwork topped by a bevy of lit candles – which makes for an incredibly romantic sight.

There are too many tiny details to mention – the exquisite crystal and cutlery; waiters uncovering dishes mysteriously hidden beneath silver cloches; the impressive variety of wines, Champagnes and liqueurs. This is as good as a dining experience gets. In the background, a pianist tickles the ivories on a baby grand.

The elegantly dressed waiting staff immediately arrives at your table to ask you what you would like to drink. They are always extremely helpful, ready to suggest the most favoured dishes and clearly passionate about what they do and the food they serve.

El Grill is often touted as Marbella’s most exclusive restaurant and this certainly applies to the produce. My dining companion and I delighted in the complimentary aperitif – a scrumptious foie gras and cabbage bite.

We shared a starter – El Grill’s famous cheese soufflé, rich and creamy and bearing an amazing texture – slightly crisp outside and buttery soft inside. We sinfully dipped our bread (taken from the bread basket, which bore a wide variety of breads) into the cheesy sauce, feeling not the slightest bit guilty about indulging after a hard day at work.

The dish, like all the others we sampled, showed off the passion for perfection exercised by Head Chef, Juan Gálvez – who worked for nine years at the Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa, venturing forth to found a restaurant in Tenerife which garnered a Michelin star. He was enticed once again to join the Marbella Club team, and today, he continues to display a respect for tradition and passion for innovation in equal measure.

We decided to keep our mains healthy, sharing two legendary dishes: the baked fillet of turbot (served simply with al dente green beans, roast garlic baby potatoes and a smooth Hollandaise sauce – made in-house, of course) and the chateaubriand (which we ordered rare, as meat of this calibre merits).

The latter, bearing a wonderful flavour and melt-in-the-mouth texture, was served alongside creamy spinach and roast potatoes, as well as a spicy Argentinean tomato sauce. The wine, too, was excellent, with a list comprising some of the best labels from around the world. We chose a Château La Fleur Petrus Merlot (2009) – fruity, smooth, and wonderfully earthy.

For dessert, we gave in to the raspberry soufflé, made at the moment and served, once again, with plenty of panache; the waitress brought the fluffy dessert to our table then spooned a little hole in the centre, pouring in a tiny jug of freshly made raspberry purée. The bottom of this dulcet ‘well’ bore pieces or raspberry, which complemented the cloud-like meringue to perfection. We enjoyed our dessert with a wonderful Tokai 5 Puttonyos from Hungary. Finally, who could resist a cup of freshly brewed coffee with mignardises such as chocolate and candied fruit?

The menu bears a quote by Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe, which states, “Dressing for dinner is like taking off the day’s worries and slipping into a relaxed and celebratory evening mood.” His words perfectly capture the appeal of this unique haven, favoured by connoisseurs across the Coast and beyond. Top notch produce and traditional cooking methods are married to service that impresses and a romantic candlelit ambience. The result is sheer perfection.

Words Marisa Cutillas / Photography The Marbella Club Hotel

Open nightly for dinner. At the Marbella Club Hotel. Blvd. Príncipe Alfonso von Hohenlohe, Marbella. Tel: 952 822 211.