La Sala (200 16870) Starters from £7.00 – £12.50: Classic Mains from £11.00 – £29.50 Desserts from £5.00 – £8.50
Certain hotels in Gibraltar lack that five-star quality or uniqueness and that ability to linger in the memory indefinitely. The visual marvel that is The Sunborn, a five-star Finnish owned floating super-yacht hotel, purpose-built and delivered from Malaysia in March 2014 this “floatel” is approximately 142 metres long and boasts 187 guest rooms and suites.
The Sunborn has a breath-taking visual impact supplying the ship builder’s desired “wow factor” landmark effect.
The Sunborn can be spotted from a myriad of viewing points, from Spain, when approaching Gibraltar’s frontier and from the Rock itself where you can gaze down on it sublime beauty, it makes its presence ever felt.
It has an ego without pretentiousness and welcomes guests to enjoy a refreshing drink or two from its rooftop Aqua Bar. Here you can enjoy unmitigated views across to South West Spain and Morocco.
Having lived in Gibraltar now for over three years, and eaten out a lot, we can confidently state that both restaurants, The Barbary and La Sala, are firm favourites for a touch of luxury dining and variety of menu options.
We headed to The Barbary this week for a quick lunchtime bar meal. Usually, this restaurant is the quieter of the two, due to the location on the seventh floor and slightly less formal than La Sala.
However, today it was busier than usual, and we had the displeasure of sitting close to one of those couples you seek to avoid; loud, brash and forever complaining.
It transpired that the Barbary restaurant food was coming up from the La Sala kitchen due to works going on in the Barbary kitchen and a resulting 20-minute delay on food orders.
Hence, we quickly gathered up our bags and headed down to La Sala. In contrast to The Barbary, La Sala is formal, with white linen tablecloths and napkins, a neat line of several wine glasses and gleaming silverware on each table. They do have a lunchtime offer of £15 per head for two courses with water and coffee, reasonable enough for a five-star hotel’s main restaurant.
For vegans or food allergy sufferers, the menu options delight and cater for everyone. I opted for the vegan starter of Chargrilled Mediterranean Vegetables, while my food partner diverted to a meat option of Chicken Tacos. The chargrilled vegetables not only looked pretty, but also were full of flavour, not overly seasoned or sitting in oil, and perfectly accompanied the satisfyingly generous portion of Roasted Carrot Hummus. With a sprinkling of pine nuts, served with a giant homemade thin and crispy cracker, this dish epitomised everything good about vegan food!
My partner’s taco was fresh, full and flavoursome. The generous portion satisfied but left us with that salivary “wanting more” feeling that starters are supposed to activate. As a starter, we could not fault the plates of food served up and devoured.
The atmosphere in the restaurant took me back to the 1980s with yacht music playing in the background and, while waiting for the mains, the waiter kept our glasses topped up with sparkling water, and I decided the sunny weather called for a glass of lunchtime alcoholic decadence. I enquired about available draught lagers, of which there are only two, San Miguel and London Pale Ale.
I opted for the Pale Ale, and it arrived in all its ice-cold, draught drawn glory, with a frothy top and tasting like liquid nectar.
The bar waiter complimented me on my choice and, although not a connoisseur of beers, I certainly appreciated the citrusy flavours on this warm, sunny day in Gibraltar.
The mains arrived; we both opted for the vegan green Thai curry with rice. On first glance, the portion appears small, but the bowls are surprisingly deep, and the side dish of fat chips ordered by myself made for a filling and delightful main meal. The Thai curry contains elements of those addictive delicate flavours and aromas that you would expect in a green Thai curry sauce, an array of fresh, crisp vegetables and fluffy white rice. As self-confessed Thai curry addicts, we both felt that one element that might improve the dish is the option for sticky, fragrant Thai Jasmine rice cooked in a traditional Asian rice steamer. Nevertheless, this is a five-star floatel, not a Thai restaurant, so we shall not nit-pick about the finer details, especially when the curry itself is near Thai perfection. A nice touch by the chef was to send out the fat chips with a side of vegan mayonnaise, a thoughtful gesture that implants in the memory and ensures we will return to get more of those wonderfully decadent (proper) chips.
Ok, I like it when I have room for dessert. And there are not many restaurants in Gibraltar that offer not one, not two, but three vegan options for dessert including Eton Mess, Panna Cotta, and a variety of sorbets with fresh fruit. I chose the Eton Mess and tried to persuade my partner to go for the Panna Cotta so that I could sample it. He could not manage another course, so that is an excuse to return in the future, the near future!
One delightful creamy dish of fresh strawberries, whipped up in smooth cream and dotted with crispy meringue, provided a perfect finale to a spontaneous luxury lunch date looking out at Gibraltar’s prestigious harbour, reminiscing about the 80s and feeling rather soporific after a second pale ale. A shockingly strong espresso later had us energised sufficiently to disembark and stroll home in the warm Mediterranean sunshine.