THERE are certain places where you really feel the trappings of privilege. Tucked away beside a private polo estate in sumptuous grounds near Sotogrande, Cancha II is, without a doubt, one of the most exclusive restaurants in Andalucia. Set up by Paola Zobel, the daughter of the millionaire owner of Ayala Polo Club, it is little surprise that this is where you will find the Duchess of York or Glenn Hoddle dining in the heart of summer.
A place for power brokers to lunch during the week, or aristocrats to play at weekends, this is understated elegance and simplicity at its very best – with none of the screaming opulence of Puerto Banus. Its terrace – beautifully candlelit at night – is stunning and you look over perfectly clipped polo fields banked by oleander and oaks. An asador – or charcoal barbecue restaurant – it serves Argentinian meats of the highest quality thanks to a native chef with 25 years experience.
Some say their steaks are rivaled nowhere apart from Argentina itself. “Ingredients are vital,” explains manager Ivo Roncadi, a Hungarian, who has worked for a number of years in the restaurant trade in the UK. “We only source the best from around the world, most of the meat is from Argentina.” Despite having once run a Michelin-starred restaurant back home in Budapest, that is the last thing on his mind with Cancha II. “We don’t want fancy food, we want simple good quality… this is a place to come and relax and enjoy the ambience.”
The menu is certainly meat-laden with the best cuts of beef, but there is also a big list of salads and vegetable dishes. One of the best is the mushroom salad, with rocket and parmesan, that in true Spanish style came with chunks of bacon in the mix. There is a limited pudding menu, but an excellent wine list as well as a nice tea menu, including the popular Earl Grey Lavender blend. It says a lot about the sort of clientele one might expect.