Casa Del Mar is a delightful Mediterranean restaurant located in the centre of Bury St Edmunds. Once known as Café Del Mar, the name change reflects the fact that it’s more than just a café, and rightly so. The menu includes an impressive selection of dishes, including Spanish, Greek, Italian and Moroccan. Owned by the vivacious and talented Maria Broadbent, Casa Del Mar’s ambience is cosy and inviting with friendly and attentive service throughout.
We went to Bury St Edmunds to see a concert at The Apex and were looking for a place to eat nearby that could accommodate the four of us for an early dinner, as the show started at 7:30pm on the dot. The thought of having to resort to a boring chain restaurant wasn’t too appealing so a quick tweet revealed Casa Del Mar as a recommendation. Our friends Peter and Jenni had just returned from a trip to Italy so they were thrilled with the choice, plus it was only a 5-minute walk to the venue. Perfect.
Whilst we nibbled on fresh bread and olives, we perused the menu and decided that we would order some tapas to begin and then decide on our mains. We all agreed on a French white wine, the excellent Valensac Sauvignon Blanc (so good, we ordered a second bottle).
We were there as a group of four and already in a convivial mood, so sharing a selection of tapas was the way to go. All tapas were cooked fresh to order and the six we selected came out at different times, which was fine with us.
The grilled aubergine with saffron yogurt and pickled chillies was delicious. The aubergine wasn’t too mushy and the saffron and chillies didn’t overpower the dish. This starter had a nice balance of textures and flavours.
The garlic prawns were served with the heads and tails on so we peeled them ourselves. A finger bowl filled with water and a slice of lemon was provided to clean our hands afterwards. I find it’s always worth the effort to peel the prawns as they are tastier and less dry when they are cooked with the shells intact. They also help the prawns stand up to the robust flavour of garlic.
The whitebait was crisp and served with lemon, which lent some freshness to the dish. Fish and citrus are a classic combination. The key was perfectly frying the whitebait and the chef did not disappoint.
The albóndigas (Spanish meatballs) were served in a tasty tomato sauce that I greedily scooped up, even after all the meatballs were gone.
I enjoyed the pesto gnocchi with sundried tomato oil so much that I ordered it again as my main. The gnocchi’s plump, pillowy texture paired well with the vibrant pesto filling and sweet flavours of the sundried tomato oil. The gnocchi were accompanied by a rocket salad, which was a good match.
The chorizo starter was cooked in red wine and chilli, giving it quite a kick. I could tell they used high quality chorizo (my photo doesn’t do it justice). Paulo, the spice fiend, really liked this dish and ordered the spicy chorizo pasta as his main (penne in a spicy tomato sauce with pan-fried chorizo and red onions). He asked for it super spicy and it really was… but he could definitely handle it!
We enjoyed our meal so much, we debated whether we had time to order dessert. Owner Maria was nearby and quickly stepped in to take our order. It was also a good opportunity to say hello and meet the woman behind this wonderful restaurant.
Among the many tempting desserts on the menu, the raspberry and white chocolate brûlée cheesecake caught our eye. This was a generous slice of luxurious, rich cheesecake with a brûlée topping, served with cream and fresh raspberries. Paulo even tried a nice pear brandy for the first time.
The four of us agreed that Casa Del Mar was the perfect place to relax and enjoy a leisurely dinner before the concert. The delightful, convivial atmosphere enhanced our evening and the tantalising Mediterranean menu took us all back to our many travels. Casa Del Mar really offered us a proverbial ray of sunshine in the heart of Bury St Edmunds!
The owners, managers or staff did not invite me to visit this establishment and were unaware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. It is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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