Jerez-born Ángel León is the most celebrated chef in the province of Cadiz, and probably the busiest. The gastro-celeb, known as the Chef del Mar, has not only moved his two-Michelin-star Aponiente restaurant across El Puerto de Santa María to a waterfront historic mill, but opened an upmarket tapas bar in the old Aponiente venue. And on March 1, he launched his latest project, Alevante, at the Hotel Melia Sancti Petri, Chiclana.
León is director of the luxury hotel’s new restaurant, overseeing every aspect of the development, and creating menus that celebrate the region’s incomparable fresh seafood. An extensive wine list has been selected by the prestigious sommelier Juan Ruiz Henestrosa.
The combination of classy setting, elegant restaurant, and star chef and sommelier make Alevante the summer’s top gastronomic destination.
The restaurant will be open March 1 – October 31, from 7.30pm-10.30pm. Reserve well in advance and dress up. T: 956.49.12.00; email@example.com.
Aponiente, El Puerto
Or maybe not quite the top, because 2-star Aponiente looks to go from strength to strength in its atmospheric new home, Molino de Mareas de El Caño. Obviously the food is the big draw, but the old flour mill, the lighting that changes colour and intensity depending on what dishes are being served, and the arty decor adds to the experience.
“Every piece of this mill is designed in line with the heart and soul of our micro-marine world,” they explain, “the silica lamps are diatom algae, the door handles are shaped like sea urchins, the walls are lined with leaf barnacles, scales, jellyfish, sea horses, luminous deep-sea fish, and of course, there’s sea, lots of sea.
“In the restaurant dining room, larger-than-life squid feather bones hang from each of the lamps and the chairs are shaped like mullet tails, a fish that we treasure. All of these features are enclosed within the mill’s original 17th century coquina-rock walls. A drawbridge connects the dining room with the marshland. There are more than 560 channels in our lighting system, which change in colour and intensity depending on the dishes being served.”
This is very much León’s HQ, and home also to a new Laboratorio de de Investigación Gastronómica dedicated to sharing his philosophy through classes and workshops.
Calle Francisco Cossi Ochoa, El Puerto De Santa Maria. Reservations: aponiente.com
Taberna del Chef del Mar, El Puerto
And for those wanting gastronomic treats on a budget, Taberna del Chef del Mar in El Puerto will rank top of León’s three projects. Opened in February, and occupying the original Poniente location, Taberna is the most informal, inclusive and affordable. It’s possible to tuck into scaled down versions of dishes developed at Poniente along with various guisos and other local favourites for an average of €20-30 a head. Interestingly, two women will control the action – the chef’s wife, Marta Girón at front of house, and Aponiente-trained chef, Sonia Arjones, heading the team in the kitchen. Juan Ruiz Henestrosa is behind the interesting wine list here too.
c/ Puerto Escondido de El Puerto.