Located in the heart of Ronda, Bardal is a gastronomic experience led by chef Benito Gomez and driven by his abiding passion for sourcing fresh local produce and devising mouth-watering and surprising recipes that promote greater use of local foodstuffs.
Tucked away among souvenir shops, Bardal benefits from a privileged location, halfway between El Tajo de Ronda and the city’s bullring. The standard-bearer of local gastronomy, this is an Andalusian restaurant through and through, which opened its doors back in 2016. Bardal has scooped awards left right and centre – it received its first Michelin star only two years after its opening and defended a second Michelin star five years later, thus taking its place—along with Noor in Cordoba and Skina in Marbella—in the pantheon of two Michelin-starred restaurants in Andalusia. A recognition of the track record in the gastronomic arena, and an acknowledgement of Benito Gomez’s own cachet and his free-of-constraints cuisine, and the passion and hard work of a professional team, which has blossomed under Gomez’s mentorship.
Provenance and sustainability have become part of common culinary parlance, but it was chef Gomez and his Bardal team that ushered in the farm-to-fork philosophy that we all so vehemently believe in now. The restaurant sits on Finca Rabadan estate, an agro-ecological production project and a firm commitment to show the value of Ronda. With Finca Rabadan being Bardal’s pantry, the restaurant can source its own garden produce, olive production, livestock and game, which later yield Bardal’s signature dishes.
Benito Gomez’s Enviable Track Record
The Barcelona-born and Malaga-based chef had been firmly ensconced behind the stove of some of the finest restaurants—those years prepared him well for a career in elite-level kitchens—before moving on to craft seasonal menus brim full of the freshest locally-sourced ingredients at his own restaurant. The goal that Benito Gomez pursues with this project is to basically serve the cuisine he chooses to offer when he chooses to offer it. In other words, he wants to feel free to go to the market early in the morning to stock up on the very best produce and seasonal raw materials sourced locally, and cherry-pick the freshest ingredients to then create a specific gastronomic proposal for that day.
Benito Gomez’s enviable track record of success spanning 20 years speaks for itself. Even as a small child he showed a genuine interest in food, and when he was but 15 years old he set off to learn the intricacies of cookery at the Sant Pol de Mar hospitality school. It was also around that time that he began to literally devour any cookbook as it came along. His bedside book, “El Bulli: The Taste of the Mediterranean”, was a watershed in his life and the reason why he decided to become a professional cook.
The date was 1997 and Gomez started out on his career as a professional cook with the cream of the world’s chefs in elite-level kitchens around the country. Jean Luc Figueres turned out to be the perfect mentor at the perfect time for Benito Gomez as he prepared to transition to the stoves of La Alqueria—Ferran Adria’s temple of gastronomy in the heart of Andalusia—. It is not all too clear if this connection helped chef Gomez make the jump to Malaga. But jump he did, and Tragabuches was a welcome return to Ronda for Benito Gomez and a springboard to a glittering career.
Revamped and revitalised, the property which then housed Tragabuches is now home to Bardal. Where a recognisable and well-defined, albeit surprising, cuisine was once served, now it follows the dictates of the chef’s ravenous appetite depending on what is available fresh from the market that day.
Bardal’s Signature Cuisine
Bardal’s team of highly dedicated professionals are passionate about gastronomy, feel strongly committed to the restaurant’s farm-to-fork philosophy and stay true to the fresh seasonal produce. A total of eight chefs commanded by executive chef Benito Gomez and his head chef, Juan Carlos Ochando, break down the science behind the creative process with absolute mastery.
The skill in Bardal’s kitchen is unreal. A genuine and sincere cuisine—no frills, no gimmicks, no fluff—, which provides a fabulous gastronomic journey through local rounded flavours. While Bardal purports to take the pulse of the region’s growers, with full respect, essence and authenticity, chef Gomez’s knowledge of food is like no one you have ever met. His cuisine is regional, sensible and free from the tethers; his culinary philosophy is simple – no limits, no restraints, no rules.
The variety of ingredients and products found in the area constitute the core of Bardal’s culinary proposal, which successfully combines the Serrania de Ronda local produce with the heartiest of Catalan stews and sauces.
The restaurant offers two seasonal tasting menus, providing scope for creativity throughout the seasons.
The heartbeat of the kitchen is undeniably linked to the pulse of the cellar. Ronda grapes are ever present in Bardal’s superb wine selection—few chefs have contributed as much to raising the visibility of Ronda’s grape varieties as chef Gomez—.
Bardal is a unique restaurant that has grown into arguably the most influential in Ronda.