Restaurante Mar de Verum – value fine dining in Malaga
Every so often it’s nice to get out of the city centre and try some of the Malaga restaurants on the periphery. Restaurante Mar de Verum is one of them and as we’re about to discover, offers good-value fine dining in Malaga, making the trip to the top end of Cerrado de Calderón more than worth it.
In this unseasonably warm April, we’ve chosen to sit outside on the terrace where the awnings cast some welcome shade. The nautical-themed chairs and white linen give the experience a luxury touch, but without making things too formal.
What’s on the menu at Restaurante Mar de Verum
The restaurant’s full name is Mar de Verum ‘Asador Vasco-Asturiano’, which refers to the grill using culinary know-how from the fields and coasts of northern Spain. So, no prizes for guessing where chef Jorge Berzosa hails from. But the full name also means the menu brings a nice mix of seafood, fish and meat – aka something for everyone.
And all are prime products:
- Fish and seafood come from fresh markets in Malaga province and further afield in Spain. The fish catch-of-the-day is part of the grilled offerings.
- Meat cuts include beef (Irish Angus and Galician beef, for example), Iberian pork and organic chicken.
- Fresh vegetables, km0 (locally grown) where possible and the best from Spain’s kitchen gardens. Seasonal of course.
- And even the rice in the extensive paella menu is award-winning.
Obviously, our expectations were high when we opened the menu to choose our starters.
To begin your feast
The house Russian salad has won prizes so a sharing plate of the Mar de Verum take on this Spanish classic was a must. We also went for an equally classic Gilda (anchovy, barnacle and green olive on a stick) and two conchas finas (large clam, a Malaga signature dish), flavoured au naturelle and with a spicy sauce. To round up, we ordered grilled artichokes with Payoyo cheese.
All four were absolute treats – I particularly enjoyed the smoky combo in the artichokes with that contrasting tang of goat’s cheese. And the Russian salad more than lived up to its prize-winning reputation.
The list of starters runs much longer, but we’d already sneaked a look at the main dishes on other tables and noticed that the portions are generous. Pacing ourselves was going to be the key to this meal.
Now to the pre-mains
Again, there’s plenty to choose from, so if you’re at all indecisive, ask your fellow diners to make your selection. They have their pick from egg dishes (the house Spanish omelette (Tortilla de Betanzos) is renowned in omelette-aficionado circles), stews including Malaga gazpachuelo soup, typically fried fish and a selection of tartars. The prawn tartar is simply scrumptious – you don’t often find this level of texture and taste, all in one.
All these dishes are suitable for sharing plates, so you can try a few between you.
Next up are the pieces de resistance and yet again, you’re hard-pushed to choose. We just had to try a catch-of-the-day – when we were at Restaurante Ver de Verum, it was local sole, grilled to perfection as only master asadores know how.
My dining partner is a bit of a meat lover, so she went for the Iberian pork cut (known as presa), which was as tender as you could possibly imagine.
Mar de Verum is renowned for its wild red tuna cuts, which when in season are a must-try. There’s also a long list of rice dishes. They include four types of “dry rice”, similar to paella and three with meat and one vegetarian; and three types of arroz caldoso (think of the rice with more liquid than a risotto). This trio have seafood as their main ingredient. If you want a rice dish (priced from €17 per person), you need to order it in advance and for at least two people.
After living in Spain for over 30 years, I’ve kind of resigned myself to disappointing dessert menus at most restaurants. It’s, therefore, a big surprise to discover those at Restaurante Mar de Verum. While the cheesecake and apple pie options are staples on many menus, the other pudding options are not.
We chose to share Torrelavega pastry filled with confectioners custard and diced piña colada. You get four pastries, so a perfect two each – they literally melt in your mouth. And the pineapple (freeze-dried and with coconut and vanilla glacé) provided just the right tangy touch to cleanse our palettes at the end of the meal.
In your glass
Fine dining anywhere necessarily involves fine wining, and Restaurante Mar de Verum is no exception. The wine list is little short of exceptional – just the champagnes number over 40 – and almost all wine regions in Spain have at least two mentions on the menu.
Wines from further afield also join the list including whites from Australia and the US. Few restaurants in Malaga include such a selection of non-Spanish wines. Local Malaga wines run to three each for whites and reds.
We think even the finest connoisseurs of wine might be a little stuck for choice with this list, but luckily the sommelier knows every single bottle, inside and out. So, allow yourself to be guided by his recommendations, particularly if you’re pairing one of the bolder-tasting dishes.
Bottles start at €22 and most stand in the region of €25-40.
Good for vegetarians?
With grilled fish and meat shining in the spotlight, you might think Restaurante Mar de Verum isn’t the first choice for a veggie. But there are several dishes on the menu to suit including an all-vegetable paella made with that award-winning rice. Pescatarians, of course, will be in seventh heaven.
And Jorge and his team are more than happy to adapt dishes to suit non-meat and fish eaters. Likewise, guests with food intolerances – just let them know when you arrive.
Restaurante Mar de Verum is in our “Worth the Trip” section for a reason because, yes, this value restaurant with fine dining is slightly off the beaten track. But it’s only a 15-minute taxi drive from the city centre. Or you could get the No 33 bus from the south side of the Alameda Principal and get off at the Matagallo Macizo Central stop and walk 5 minutes to the restaurant, taking around half an hour in total.
The return journey is best by taxi or if it’s in the day, why not walk back down to the eastern seafront and then along to the city centre? The 6k journey is downhill to the seafront and has good views of Malaga.
Otherwise, Restaurante Mar de Verum couldn’t be a quieter and more tranquil location, a world away from the busy and noisy venues in the city centre.
Inside is quietly understated chic with white brick walls and the occasional artwork in Mar de Verum blue. The tables are nicely spaced and the acoustics are good (makes a change in Spain!). Outside, the pleasant terrace also has plenty of space and while there aren’t any views, you can feel the sea breeze and anyway, we were too busy looking at the food!
As you’d expect at a restaurant of this calibre, service is top-notch. We couldn’t fault any of it (and we can be pretty exacting) from start to finish. Jorge and his team speak English, so if you need some help with the menu or want to know the exact ingredients in the dish, they’re happy to explain.
And here’s a big surprise and the reason for the title of this review, “Value fine dining in Malaga”. Because at a time when many restaurants have pushed up their prices and/or substituted good ingredients for cheaper alternatives, Restaurante Mar de Verum continues to offer excellent value for money.
Expect to pay the following:
- Starters – from €4.50 to €37, with most in the range of €9-25
- Mains – from €13 to €50
- Desserts – from €4 to €7
Chef Jorge Bezosa regularly gets together with other renowned chefs for an evening of “Four Hands”. The one-off menu includes star dishes from both chefs so that diners get a unique chance to try creations from two foodie masters.
To find out when these Cuatro Mano events are, sign up for our free fortnightly Newsletter or request information directly from Restaurante Mar de Verum.
Good for kids?
If yours love fine dining and appreciate a prime product, cooked to perfection, then yes, maybe. But we think this venue is perhaps best reserved as a treat for you and your fellow adults.
Yes, inside and out.
Why put Restaurante Mar de Verum on your list of restaurants in Malaga?
- Prime fresh produce.
- The best-grilled dishes in town.
- Plenty of choice on the menu.
- Supreme wine list.
- Professional and friendly service.
Open daily 1 to 5pm and 8pm to midnight
Tel: 951 666 668
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