LOS BANDIDOS: FOOD THAT SUSTAINS THE SOUL

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For the 20th anniversary edition of essential magazine, it is only fitting to highlight a restaurant that has an even longer trajectory: Los Bandidos, founded 33 years ago by Jill Lindberg.

Marbella as a whole has been through many ups and down, but this portside dining haven has hardly noticed the change of the tides. “Our cuisine has remained essentially the same throughout the years and our interiors are traditional,” says Jill. As I gaze at the overhead garden of flowers which hangs down from the ceiling and the dozens of photos of celebrities who have dined at the restaurant I sense its welcoming warmth, Entering Los Bandidos feels like coming home. Perhaps this is one of the key ingredients of its success.

Jill Lindberg Honoured

The importance of Los Bandidos to the culinary industry was palpable at the Universal Icon Prize – Gender Power Awards. At this illustrious event, Jill Lindberg was awarded one of only 12 prizes given to innovative, upstanding woman who have made a difference to science, technology, and industry. Jill’s co-awardees were aeronautical engineers, brand innovators, and social startup founders. She was the only foreigner to receive an award and true to her spirit, in her speech (“I didn’t prepare one because I didn’t think I would win”) she made them laugh. “I cannot believe I am being given this award in the company of so many intellectual women. You work hard all day and when you finish, that is when my day starts. All I do is make you food!” she said, receving energetic applause and cheering from the crowd.

Humble Beginnings

Anyone who appreciates great cuisine knows how comforting and soul-soothing it can be. Jill’s achievements range beyond this, to her innovative and enterprising spirit. She is also a risk taker – a quality that has sparked many success stories. When she opened her first restaurant (La Fondue) on the opposite end of the Port in 1976, the area was deserted and unlit. People walking along the Port would turn around at a certain point because the area was so dark. However, word got around and La Fondue was soon fully booked. Two years later, Jill (whose degree is actually in political sciences) founded Los Bandidos – a frequent jaunt for celebrities like Sean Connery and Frank Sinatra (who were golf buddies of Jill’s then-husband, Kurt).

Captain of the Ship

Jill adores travel and spends a few months each year cruising the world. However, she is never away too long, as she works every night, ensuring that everything is exactly right. “We make all our sauces in-house so I have to ensure that they are always perfect, made with the precise ingredients, the right brand of mustard or butter, etc. These details count and if you have a good palate you can tell the fine differences between dishes made one way or another.”

New Dishes

The Los Bandidos menu has almost 90 dishes. That is a big number considering the fact that everything is made from scratch. Excellent meat, fish, and seafood choices vie for your attention and the sauces (the restaurant is lauded on TripAdvisor for its top-rated Bearnaise sauce) are a beautiful complement to the sheer quality of the produce. In addition to revered options such as Kurt’s Favourite (fillet steak with pepper sauce and tagliatelli au gratin) and the Los Bandidos Sole, the restaurant often offers diners seasonal specials and entices regulars with new dishes. “Some of our most regular customers are now parents who started visiting us when they were little children,” notes Jill. Thus, providing these clients with their favourites as well as new delights is key.

A few recent additions to the menu include the Almadraba tuna tartare (made with the exquisite central cut of tuna), the lobster served with a beurre blanc sauce, and a pasta made from seasonal vegetables, and magnificent desserts, such as the deconstructed banoffee pie (served in a tall glass or a vintage milk jar) and the homemade Belgian chocolate truffles. Jill enticed me with the latter on my last visit. Creamy is an understatement; this truffle just melts in the mouth and bears a beautiful fresh flavour thanks to a touch of mint liqueur.

Sourcing Produce

Chef and Manager, Juan Sepúlveda, has been at Los Bandidos for two decades and delights in telling me about the produce he and Jill select for the restaurant – everything from Joselito and 5 Jotas ham, to magnificent wines like Teso la Monja – a renowned Toro that is part of a limited collection. Jill Lindberg has managed to create what is undoubtedly a standard bearer for international cuisine in Spain. With a restaurant that often serves three or even four sittings in one evening; one that has never wavered in line with economic ups and downs, it is testimony to the importance of a fine meal, presented in an inimitably beautiful corner of the Port; one that exudes a sense of family, despite the evident luxury of its surroundings.

WORDS MARISA CUTILLAS PHOTOGRAPHY KEVIN HORN

Open nightly for dinner. Muelle Ribera, Casa M, Puerto Banús. Tel: 952 815 915.

www.losbandidos.es

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