This isn’t your regular Spanish restaurant. It is an experimental testing laboratory where bold and creative dishes that push the boundaries of flavours and traditions are masterfully cooked and artistically presented. Although the ambience is uninspiring, see pass this and you will be in for a gastronomical experience alongside some of the best Spanish wines. All that without a big dent to your wallet.
What is the food like?
Experimental. This isn’t your regular Spanish restaurant. You are stepping into a testing laboratory headed up by Chef David Olivas. You will be presented with bold and creative dishes that push the boundaries of flavours and traditions. Expect the unexpected, like pepper ice cream, lemongrass oxtail soup and dark chocolate with passion fruit. Dishes are made from some of the best ingredients like Almadraba tuna, sea urchin, snow crab, Iberian pork and wagyu beef, and they are masterfully cooked and artistically presented.
How is the drinks selection?
Strictly Spanish. Apart from a handful of Champagnes, Cavas and 21 choices of white wine, the selection by sommelier and co-owner Fabián Villar, is a celebration of the best Spanish vineyards. There are 22 choices of Sherry wines, 21 reds from Castilla León and Castilla La Mancha, 13 from La Rioja, another 13 reds from Comunidad Valenciana and Aragón Y Murcia and 8 from Andalusia. There are 27 choices of Spanish whites. Prices start from €25 to €350, with 90% of the bottles priced below €100. The most expensive wine is a 2010 vintage bottle of Vega Sicilia Único from the hillside of River Duero at €350.
What is the place like?
Uninspiring. The decor and ambience of the restaurant is not representative of the quality of the food it deliver. It is located off the tourist haunts on a very average looking street. The frontage resembles an American barbecue restaurant with its metal signage and basic outdoor furniture.
Inside, we expected a sophisticated decor with smart splashes of fun bright colours. But instead we have a monotone Spanish tiled floor with a mismatch of rustic bare wood blocks, grungy art school half-painted table, clunky old aristocratic portable alcohol stand and simple modern tables. See pass this and you will be in for a gastronomical experience.
Who are the patrons?
Popular with locals and tourists alike. Mostly couples on a special date night with a few families with children.
How was the service?
Sharp and attentive. Our waiter for the evening was knowledgeable about the menu. Each dish from the tasting menu was clearly explained to us. Sommelier and co-owner Fabián Villar was enthusiastic about ensuring we have the right Spanish wine for the evening.
Is it child friendly?
Yes. Although there is no children menu, as dishes come in individual portion, it is possible to cater accordingly to your children’s appetite.
Is it dog friendly?
Yes, but only at outdoor alfresco seating area.
Yes. You will get 12 courses of exquisitely prepared and presented dishes for €80 per person with the BACK Grand Tasting Menu. It will certainly be more expensive when they get their Michelin star.
See below for what my dining companions and I indulged in for this review when we visited in October 2021 (prices quoted include VAT):
2018 Aalto P.S. Ribera del Duero (Strongly recommend)
A gorgeous medium bodied wine from a young winery formed in 1999 by Mariano García, who spent 30 years as Technical Director at Vega Sicilia. This 100% Tempranillo grape wine that has been aged for 19 months in new French oak barrels has an intense deep dark red colour. Hint of chocolate on the palate. One of the best we had in a while. €110
Menu Grand Back, €80
1. “Almadraba Tuna” with frozen pepper and gazpacho from Antequera (Recommend)
Diced tuna sashimi in a unique pepper sorbet. It is refreshing and rich. Flavours enhanced with the sour broth peppered with olive oil droplets. One of a kind, a good start to the evening. Read about the Almadraba tuna (andalucia.org)
2. Creamy sea urchin, crumbled crab and tomato (Strongly recommend)
A delicious dish. Cold flesh from sea urchin creamed and topped with sweet snow crab meat. Served on a bed of seaweed sauce. Another unique combination of flavours – the sweetness and richness of the flavours from the sea urchin and snow crab intensified by the salt from the seaweed.
3. Platter (Recommend)
An impressive presentation. Certainly one to marvel over while tucking into the 6 masterpieces in front of you. Individual comments below.
3a. Gazpacho with octopus and avocado (Recommend)
The gazpacho (Spanish tomato soup) has an interesting bubble-like texture that dances on your tongue. It paired well with a helping of mashed avocado in the base.
3b. Gum – foie. Marinated partridge and pistachio (Strongly recommend)
A fantastic savoury and sweet dish. The creative use of gum with icing sugar offered a playful texture to the dish and brought the flavours of the gamey partridge marinated in Port or sweet Sherry and nuttiness of the pistachio together.
3c. Iberian pork with smoked anchovy butter (Do not recommend)
The flavour from the seared Iberian pork was subtle and over-powered by the salty and smoky anchovy butter. The anchovy butter is lovely as a standalone item.
3d. Smoked cod wafer (Do not recommend)
Love the rich smoky cod cream, but the wafer let the dish down. Think the wafer might have gone stale or overexposed.
3e. Small tube with spiced beef and green mustard (Do not recommend)
This spring roll-like concoction didn’t quite come together. We expected it to be crunchy. A touch too much mustard masking the subtle flavour from the raw beef.
3f. Bivalves with orange meunière and chillies (Recommend)
Gorgeous crunchy shells encapsulating a cheesy wholesome filling. Worked well with the tangy and spicy sensation from the orange and chillies – a twist to the traditional French sauce.
3g. Scarlet shrimp. American sauce and crispy (Strongly recommend)
Another amazing and unique dish. A flavourful prawn croquette, crunchy and bursting with prawn goodness coupled with sweet perfectly cooked butterflied prawn. We were instructed to suck the prawn head together with the American sauce after to complete the course. The Thousand Island-like sauce magnified the already rich juice from the prawn head -an elevating experience.
4. Grilled cuttlefish with onions and “gazpachuelo” (Strongly recommend)
Incredible melt-in-your mouth cuttlefish. The most tender we have ever tried. The truly Málaga soup of seafood broth with mayonnaise, enhanced here by the chef with chunk of onions, was equally delicious. A joy to the tastebud.
5. Thai oxtail broth, white prawn, smoked European eel and cured yolk (Recommend)
A rich oxtail broth with an unexpected hint of lemongrass. The smoked eel was succulent, sweet and lightly smoky. A decent dish.
6. Cured hake from Marbella, pil-pil with roe and salad lettuce water (Recommend)
The chef has clearly caught on with the #lettucewater sensation on TikTok and having a little bit of fun here. Maybe this might help us sleep better tonight? The lightly sour sauce amplified the sweetness from the tender cured hake – worked well together.
7. Iberian pork jowl, green sauce with cockles and vegetable noodles (Do not recommend)
The Iberian pork jowl was perfectly cook and full of flavour. The green sauce, not sure what it is, was a touch too salty and sour to complement the pork.
8. Wagyu beef low loin potato risotto and marrow with stew juice (Recommend)
A wonderful piece of beef – rich, juicy and tender. The brown sauce could have been more subtle to not overshadow the flavour from the beef.
9. Duck royal with white asparagus (Do not recommend)
Certainly intriguing when the dish was presented. Inspired by lièvre à la royale, an old traditional French dish, made from hare, foie gras and truffle. While we haven’t try the French dish, this dish didn’t work for us. The texture of the duck meat was too course and dry and the rich sauce with a hint of cacao was too salty. The subtle white asparagus was lost amongst these strong characters.
10. Icy lemon skin (Strongly recommend)
A much needed and refreshing dish after the heavy meaty dishes. Creamy delicate lemon ice cream, candied lemon skin, a lemon meringue stick and drop of lemon cream. A blissful balance of flavours and a treat to enjoy.
11. Brown sugar cake, frozen pear with passion fruit, fennel and Pedro Ximenez (Recommend)
Another light and refreshing fruit-based ice cream. Distinct pear and passion fruit flavours punching through. Not sure about the role of the sugar cake, the mashed up crumbs didn’t add to the overall dish.
12. Guanaja dark chocolate pink grapefruit and basil (Strongly recommend)
A rich sweet and sour dessert. Strong dark chocolate flavours intertwined with fresh tangy grapefruit ice cream and salty and intense lemon droplets. An explosion of flavours.