Restaurante Óleo, in the Contemporary Art Center of Málaga is a place to remember. The sushi is excellent and the dishes from Málaga are delicious, as well!
I usually have a rule of thumb about avoiding any kind of restaurant or café found in a museum. They tend to be pricy, the food not that great, and if you’re lucky, the coffee is decent. Of course, this sort of logic doesn’t really hold up. If you think about it, most museum goers are into culture, and by extension, probably don’t want to be eating cruddy, pre-prepared sandwiches after having a moment with Monet. Óleo, the restaurant at the CAC (Centro de Arte Contemporaneo) here in Málaga was the place that changed my mind.
We were meeting a friend, who also happens to be a sommelier and a foodie, and we let him choose the restaurant. It was a Friday night, and reservations at Óleo are highly recommended. I say this because Pedro and I had arrived a bit early with the idea of having a beer before dinner at the bar, and the place was packed, so we wound up at a nearby spot to have a quick pre-dinner drink. When we walked inside, I was surprised not so much by the sleek decor as the fact that it felt like a separate experience from the museum. This might be because we were there at night after the galleries were closed, but I liked the feeling of separation from the dining experience vs. the art experience.
We started off with a red wine from the mountains of Ronda in Málaga. A lot of people seem to think of Málaga only in relation to the sweet wines, but I would definitely suggest that you try some of the local reds and whites, as well. In this case, we were letting our friend choose the menu. He had studied up on the restaurant and knew the chef, so we figured we were in good hands. That being said, EVERYTHING I tried that night was so good I’m still telling people about this dinner almost two months later. The idea of our dinner, in true Spanish fashion, was to order a bunch of plates and share amongst the four of us.
The first little tapa we tried were the croquetas. If you’ve ever heard of the Spanish Chef, Alberto Chicote (made famous by Spain’s version of Kitchen Nightmares and Top Chef), he always says that you can judge a place based on their croquettes. In this case, the croquetas de puchero (croquettes made with the super tender meat left over after making stew), were spot on. We also enjoyed some little spring rolls filled with prawns (rollitos crujientes de langostinos macerados en soja). It came with a zippy dipping sauce that I really enjoyed.
The last of our starters was a plate of potato salad, which here they call “russian salad.” I am personally not a huge fan of mayonnaise. I know that isn’t the case for a lot of people, but it is important to know because this potato salad was made with delicious home made mayonnaise that was exactly the right texture and we wound up loving it!
Next, we ordered a goats cheese salad for the table. It was like no other goats cheese salad I’ve ever tried. Instead of rounds of goats cheese, the fresh lettuce was topped with green apple, sweet onion and miniature spring rolls of goats cheese and walnuts. It was such a great combination of textures that I would recommend it to anyone!
We continued with a delicious dish giving a nod to the sushi side of the restaurant, which was the Nigiri Aburi. Now, keep in mind the fact that our friend had not told us the name of any of the dishes we ordered, and he was having a bit of fun with the rest of us as the different plates arrived at the table. Here, looking at what appeared to be beef and some kind of fish over rice in sushi style, we weren’t sure what flavors we were going to try. The first bite of the butterfish was melt in your mouth gorgeous. Then there was a slice of ox meat, cooked to tender perfection. We dipped the pieces in a bit of soy sauce and enjoyed everything immensely.
Then came two more dishes. One was pork loin cooked perfectly and spread across a long plate on a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes. It was exquisite. The second was a wrap with beef and some vegetables which we made short work of, as well. But since we were sharing between four people, we still had a little bit of room to try something else; and Pedro had spied a mini ox burger that was the specialty of the house. So we decided that we had to order that as well before asking for dessert. The burger was delicious, although what I really want to go back and try is the sushi. From what I’ve read and seen, it is definitely a place to keep on the map in Málaga.
For dessert, we ordered a moscatel wine, just sweet enough, but not syrupy or overwhelming. We also shared the brownie with chocolate sauce. It was the perfect end to our meal. And my worries about the prices being higher thanks to the Museum backdrop? Totally unfounded. While it wasn’t the cheapest restaurant in Málaga, the Restaurante Óleo was very reasonable and the quality of the food was excellent. We would ruskommend Óleo for a romantic dinner or a special night out with 5 boquerones.
*** Photos with license (by-nc-nd).
Cover photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boquerón Viajero
Information about Restaurante Óleo
Ruskommendation for Restaurante Óleo: 5 Boquerones
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