IN just one year Casamono has become a part of the Marbella establishment.
Already a favourite for local dignatories and visiting celebrities – including flamenco star Joaquin Cortes – it has managed to capture the imagination of the Marbella dining scene.
This is perhaps no surprise, its owner being the very capable Guy Sirre, who came to Marbella, via a career straddling Michelin-starred restaurants in France, London and San Francisco, not to mention a decade working as the Sultan of Brunei’s interior designer.
A fascinating career, the Belgian chef has turned this brilliant corner spot into one of the hippest new restaurants on the coast.
“The truth is I wasn’t looking to open a new restaurant in Marbella, but when I saw this location become available I jumped at the chance,” explains Sirre, 45.
On a south-facing corner just yards from the town’s famous Piruli roundabout, it turns out to be a rather infamous address, a previous chef being killed here, before the place burnt down.
“But I am not worried about that,” insists Guy. “It has just the right dimensions and outdoor space. I knew it would work perfectly for us,” he says.
There is no doubt, that the Brussels-born businessman has a classic eye for business, not to mention detail: Casamono – meaning ‘monkey house’ is an intriguing mix of colonial and tropical style.
Full of wooden furniture and lush ferns (described as a ‘jungle garden’), its decor is light and airy and it has a warm and welcoming feel.
“Everything has to be right,” says Sirre. “We don’t first think about money. You first have to think about how it can work and look.
There is the style, music, service, food, lighting and more. Everything is important.”
Bathed in sunlight by day, at night the place comes alive with the arrival of squadrons of candles, and the roof carefully sliding across to shut out the elements.
Romantic for some, the place also becomes a hangout for the area’s fashionistas and party-goers later in the evening, particularly on Saturday nights.
But most of you will be here for the food, which is easily as good as its sister restaurant Casanis, over in the heart of the old town.
Head chef Alex changes the menu by the week and spends hours every morning scouting around the local markets for ingredients.
Doffing his hat to true Gallic flair, expect to find vol au vents, parmesan souffles, bouillabaisse soup.
Starters include Kenya green beans, white veal sweetbreads and a great duck terrine, served with crisp biscuits and fresh bread.
There are always a number of specials on the board and for my starter I tried the scallops with green chopped asparagus, beans, morel and trumpet mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, served in a lobster sauce with cod roe.
It was a real delight with a rich caramel flavour and, above all, a generous serving of four scallops.
For the main I went for the beautifully fresh turbot that came with new potatoes, watercress and fresh peas.
With a good wine, including some great French chestnuts, such as Gevrey Chambertin, you are in for a treat.
There is even a cocktail list and a pudding menu that included profiteroles with raspberries, guarantees that Casamono is here to stay.