What’s next for chef Claire Hutchings

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Chefs / Eat

It’s almost semi-finals week on BBC TV’s MasterChef: The Professionals. Mallorca-based Claire Hutchings will know how the contestants are feeling: she was the youngest of the three finalists (and the only female chef) in the 2011 competition. I remember being impressed by her creativity but never imagined that I would ever get to taste her food here in Mallorca.

“She serves unique, inventive, creative food with a style of her own. She is destined for greatness.” Gregg Wallace

A few weeks before the end of this summer, Claire told me she was leaving the 2-Michelin-star Zaranda restaurant (within the 5-star hotel Castell Son Claret) at the end of the season. I caught up with her recently to find out about her plans.

Claire Hutchings and Fernando P Arellano at Castell Son Claret

Claire with her mentor Fernando outside the gates of Castell Son Claret – home of 2-Michelin-starred Zaranda. Photo provided by Claire Hutchings

Why did you decide to leave Zaranda?

I have spent five years in Zaranda from the first opening of Castell Son Claret. It has been an amazing experience to be part of a new opening and help shape the culture of the hotel. I’ve decided it’s time to move on as I have grown so much – not only as a chef but also as a person – and feel I am ready for a new adventure. In saying that, I always feel there is the possibility in the future to work alongside Fernando again.

What will you remember about your time there?

I have been lucky to have so many experiences working alongside Fernando, and have travelled around the world cooking with him at various events. To me, he is my mentor and has helped sculpt me as a chef.

Fernando has always looked after me and we have developed dishes together that I am sure will stay on the menu as classics. These include the famous burrata: I spent many months making mozzarella trying different fresh milks from all over Mallorca and finally we mastered the art and made a delicious fresh burrata.

What have you learnt at Zaranda?

I learnt that with will and ambition the world is your oyster. I moved here, not speaking a word of Spanish, to a Michelin-star kitchen where nobody spoke English. It was very tough at first to prove I was a worthy chef as, without the language, it’s hard to communicate the skills you have. With passion and persistence, I succeeded and, after two years, was appointed sous chef. I have also learnt Spanish in my time in the kitchen.

Zaranda also gained two Michelin stars, which is an amazing achievement and I feel special to have been a part of it.

How have you changed as a chef? As a person?

I have become a lot more confident of my capabilities as a chef. As a person, I have grown up. I moved here at the age of 24 and have created a life here in Mallorca that I am very attached to.

What would be your dream role?

I would love to open something in the future very much based on what I do in my pop-up events: giving diners a show-cooking experience and interacting with them. This way they not only get something more personal, they also get to see and learn the complexity of everything we do in the kitchen – which I feel can be hidden in a normal restaurant.

Zaranda is seasonal. How useful has it been having time off in the winter?

It is great to have 2-3 months off every winter. The season is very intense and I think a break is essential; it gives me time to relax and recap on what I have learnt throughout the year. I also feel this is the time when I am most inspired, thinking about new ideas and plates.

Also it gives me a chance to continue my own personal UK business – my pop-up events, which I have now been doing for six years.  I love the pop-ups because they are my chance to be free and creative with my ideas and allow me to interact with the diners.

I do a stint of several nights in a beautiful rural location in Derbyshire, show-cooking and offering a 5-course tasting menu for 25 people each evening. These events are very popular and sell out almost immediately – and most of this is repeat custom.

What’s next for Claire Hutchings?

So my next step is in Mallorca. I am going to be the private chef of Señor Kühne on his private yacht. I had thought about working on boats before but an opportunity like this never arose. I am very much looking forward to this as it will be a totally different experience.

I will be in charge of cooking for the crew and the guests. I will get to do all my own shopping, which excites me a lot: walking around the markets myself and picking my own ingredients. I will also have the freedom to create my own dishes. This is a new path where I am confident I can grow more as a chef. Also it gives me the opportunity to step away for a while from the restaurant business and think about what I want for my future.

We wish Claire every success in her new role and hope we’ll one day have the opportunity to eat her food again. Perhaps at a pop-up event somewhere in Mallorca?

©Jan Edwards 2017

Review: new restaurant Fera in Palma

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Eat

New restaurants open on a pretty regular basis here on the island of Mallorca, but I was particularly looking forward to trying Fera Restaurant & Bar in Palma, which opened in October. I had been hearing about it for some time and knew it was going to be something special.

Simon Petutschnig’s in the kitchen

Executive chef Simon Petutschnig is a charming, hardworking Austrian. His food is a creative (and delicious) blend of Mediterranean and Asian; that’ll be MediterrAsian, then. I first interviewed Simon on Mallorca Sunshine Radio when he was the chef at Quadrat at Palma’s 5-star Sant Francesc Singular Hotel. He moved from there to become executive chef at The Lab (a pop-up, now closed) and The Kitchen, also in Palma. Fera and The Kitchen are both under the same ownership; Simon has responsibility for the cuisine at both.

Style and substance

Fera Palma (as it’s known on Facebook) has a tucked-away location, but is just a few footsteps away from the store-lined street known as Jaime III in the heart of Mallorca’s capital. The upper floor of the building – with separate external entrance – is home to the Círculo Mallorquín, the social/cultural organisation founded in the mid-19th-century. The 21st-century Fera fills the ground floor with considerable style and good taste.

The place looks warm and inviting from the traditional front courtyard and, once we were through the doors, Alina – a smiling young lady with an air of quiet efficiency – greeted us and escorted us to our table. In Mallorca, a hostess is more likely to be found in a 5-star hotel restaurant than in a city establishment, and this was the first tick on my list for Fera. Another one: I don’t like to see discarded coats and jackets hanging over the back of restaurant dining chairs; it spoils the look of a smart interior. No problem at Fera, as Alina whisked ours away to be stored until we were ready to leave.

The lunchtime menu

We went to try the menú del día – the three-course lunch menu for 22,90 euros, including VAT (IVA in Spain). This menu offers a choice of three starters, three mains, and two desserts. It includes home-made bread (three types), moreish kimchi butter with dried apricots, basil alioli, and a small appetizer of green-apple gin fizz. (We must try recreating that at home – in a larger measure!).

Having chosen our food, we were able to concentrate on our surroundings. Contemporary art, neutral and warm earthy colours in the decor and furnishings, and stylish tableware combine to make the place feel comfortable and relaxing. The owner’s wife apparently applied her expertise in feng shui when designing Fera’s interior. Which is probably why we didn’t want to leave…

In a restaurant of this standard – elegant décor and accomplished cuisine – you’d expect good service. We had it at Fera. Smartly uniformed and briskly efficient, the servers were also friendly. Two of them looked so alike I had to ask if they were brothers. They’re not, to save you the bother of asking…

We didn’t have wine on this occasion but I can tell you that, in addition to bottles, there’s a choice of seven wines for anyone who doesn’t want a full bottle. Choose from measures of 100, 300, or 500ml. This is a practical idea for anyone limiting their alcohol intake. Looks like another tick for Fera…

If this seems quite a glowing review, it’s because I found no fault with the experience. Of course, the place is still new, so let’s hope they can maintain the high standards in the future.

And more…

Fera Restaurant & Bar is open for lunch and dinner and, between times, you can also come just for drinks and cold snacks, such as sushi. These are prepared in the open cold-kitchen, where you can see the chefs working. The main kitchen is down a short flight of stairs from the dining room.

There’s something even more unexpected about the classy Fera: a large enclosed garden at the rear. In the heart of the city! It’s not yet in use but I hope they will be able to offer al fresco eating there next summer.

We’ll be going back soon for dinner, when there’s a choice of tasting menus; I’ll be trying the vegetarian one, out of curiosity. A vegetarian tasting menu in a restaurant that’s not specifically vegetarian? Now that’s quite a rare thing in Mallorca; I’m pretty sure it’ll be memorable…

©Jan Edwards 2017

Bib Gourmand restaurants Mallorca 2018

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Eat

Two restaurants on Mallorca have gained a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide Spain & Portugal 2018: Aromata in Palma and Sa Fàbrica in Inca. Michelin awards the Bib Gourmand to establishments that they consider have the ‘best quality-price relationship’.  Son Tomás in Banyalbufar retains the Bib Gourmand it had for 2017.

We’ve eaten in both of these newly-awarded restaurants a few times and they offer impressive value for money for the high standard of cuisine. Aromata and Sa Fàbrica are both open for lunch and dinner. If you’re looking for a high-quality lunch, with a price to make you smile, rather than wince, check out what’s on offer.

Aromata

Aromata’s Mallorcan owner Andreu Genestra is renowned for his eponymous (seasonal) restaurant in Capdepera, which holds one Michelin star. (His Senzill bistro – within the same hotel – is also worth a visit). Aromata is in Palma and the weekday lunch menu (which changes weekly) is one of the Mallorcan capital’s best bargains: three courses (with choices) for 15,50 euros including bread and a glass of wine or beer or water.

Here are the flavourful dishes I ate at Aromata during our last visit, in October:

Sa Fàbrica

Located in the renovated old Ramis leather factory in Inca, Sa Fàbrica has Marcel Ress at the helm. This 29-year-old German chef won  the Spanish TV series ‘Top Chef de España’ in December 2015, while he was working at the Michelin-starred Simply Fosh (now Marc Fosh) in Palma.

Sa Fàbrica’s weekday lunch menu (Tuesday to Friday except public holidays) also changes weekly and offers three courses (with choices) including bread for 15 euros. If you have a healthy appetite – or just can’t decide what to choose – go for the 5-course option for 25 euros, which includes two starters, two mains, and a dessert. The 5-course option is also available on Saturdays and public holidays).  Well worth a visit – and only a few minutes’ walk from Inca’s train station.

Here are a few photos from one of the lunches I had in the summer.

Sadly, my iPad battery failed before I could photo any of the dishes; for examples of the cuisine, here are the dishes we ate one evening when we had the Chef’s Choice menu (35 euros for five dishes). Sa Fàbrica also offers an à la carte menu.

 

Is it lunchtime yet?

©Jan Edwards 2017

Mallorca’s Michelin stars for 2018

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Eat / Michelin

For many chefs and restaurant teams across Spain and Portugal, today’s date is significant: this evening the Guía Michelin España & Portugal 2018 held their annual event to announce the restaurants awarded Michelin stars for the coming year.

Last year (for the 2017 edition of the Michelin Guide for Spain & Portugal), two restaurants in Mallorca gained their first star (Argos and Adrián Quetglas), bringing the total of stars on the island to 10 (across nine restaurants).

This year, the eagerly awaited event was held in Guía de Isora, Tenerife, at the Ritz-Carlton Abama – which has two Michelin-starred restaurants (a total of three stars) among its various restaurants and eateries. (Interestingly, Miguel Navarro, chef at Mallorca’s Es Fum, used to work in this hotel).

Can you imagine the pressure of creating a gala dinner for 500 starred chefs and top gastronomic critics? Despite that, those lucky enough to be spreading their napkins on their laps there tonight will have eaten very well!

The new stars in the Michelin Guide for Spain & Portugal for 2018 were 19 restaurants with one star; five with two stars, and two with three stars.  Stars awarded for restaurants in Mallorca last year have deservedly been awarded again, as follows:

Mallorca’s Michelin-starred restaurants for 2018

Two stars:

                       Zaranda

One star:

I feel proud to live on an island with so many excellent restaurants and talented chefs, who have helped to make Mallorca a must-visit gastronomic destination. I also feel fortunate to have eaten in all of the Michelin-starred restaurants in Mallorca and, if I had the money to do so, I’d eat in them more often. But there are also several other deserving restaurants, in my opinion. I was convinced that this would be the year Santi Taura was awarded a star for Dins Santi Taura and that Bou, Tomeu Caldentey’s restaurant in Sa Coma, would gain a second star. Neither happened. Perhaps next year?

For the time being though, my congratulations to everyone raising a glass tonight to celebrate recognition for 2018 by Michelin – the publishers of the famous red book.

©Jan Edwards 2017

Repsol awards its ‘Suns’ for 2018

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Eat

The Repsol Guide for 2018 has just been published and it includes all the establishments in Spain awarded with one, two, and three Repsol ‘Soles’ (Suns). The awards are made for ‘culinary excellence, quality of raw materials and their implementation, respect for local cuisine, wine menu, as well as table and dining room service.’

The list for Mallorca is the same as for 2017 but with one addition: Baiben (Gastrobar). Fernando P Arellano – whose restaurant Zaranda at the 5-star Castell Son Claret hotel has two Michelin stars – owns Baiben, which is in the smart southwest-Mallorca marina of Puerto Portals. Its location is enviable, facing luxurious pleasure cruisers moored right in front of the place.

“We are very happy to have this award in our first year,” Itziar Rodríguez – director of Zaranda – told me today. “People have been getting to know us and to receive a Repsol Sol is really important to us. It can be tough in the first year of a new business, but the guys here have done a great job – especially during such a busy summer season.”

Jerome Rohmer (head chef Baiben) and restaurant owner Fernando P Arellano (of 2-Michelin-starred Zaranda)

L-R Jerome Rohmer, head chef of Baiben, with restaurant owner Fernando P Arellano. Photo provided.

For quick reference, here are the establishments with Repsol Suns for 2018:

Two stars

Awarded to restaurants guaranteeing excellent quality in cuisine and service:

  • Andreu Genestra
  • Bou
  • Bens d’Avall
  • El Olivo

    John Dory dish at El Olivo

    I loved this locally caught John Dory with lemongrass sauce, crispy langoustine, and coconut during a dinner at El Olivo in October

  • Jardín
  • Santi Taura Dins
  • Zaranda

One star

Awarded for high-quality cuisine and sufficient variety:

  • Aromata

    Celeriac soup at Aromata

    Cream of smoked celeriac with caramelized figs, and black olive mousse – starter I enjoyed in October as part of the great-value ‘menu del dia’

  • Baiben *NEW FOR 2018*
  • Casa Manolo
  • Ca na Toneta
  • Ca’n Calent
  • Can Toni Moreno
  • Es Racó d’es Teix
  • Flanigan
  • La Forteleza
  • Marc Fosh
  • Sadrassana

©Jan Edwards 2017

TaPalma: follow the tapas routes in Palma, Mallorca

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Eat / tapas

This year’s TaPalma event – a celebration of tapas and cocktails in the Mallorcan capital of Palma – starts this Wednesday, November 15th and continues until Sunday, 19th. Later than usual (it’s previously been in October), it also covers outlying areas of Palma, and the contest to find the best tapa (Concurso TaPalma) and cocktail is being held separately today at the University’s hotel school.

TaPalma 2017

Here’s a quick look at the routes in and around Palma covered by this year’s event, with number of participating establishments shown in brackets:

  • City centre (9)
  • New Mercat 1930 (10)
  • Paseo Marítimo (7)
  • Santa Catalina (4)
  • Génova (2)
  • Marratxí (1)
  • Playa de Palma(2)

Find out which places are taking part and what they are offering here.

Best pinchos and tapas chef in Spain: Igor Rodríguez

It’s official: the Mallorca-based chef Igor Rodríguez has won the 13th Concurso Nacional de Pinchos y Tapas Ciudad de Vallodolid – the national pinchos and tapas competition, which took place in Valladolid last week.

The new champion’s winning creation was ensaïmada de cangrejo de río – a small ensaïmada stuffed with crayfish and tomato. One of 48 competing chefs, Igor combined traditional culinary elements of Mallorca (ensaïmada) and Castilla & Leon (crayfish stew). As a result of winning this competition, Igor will represent Spain next year in the 2nd World Tapas Championship.

Igor Rodriguez's winning tapa in Valladolid

It’s a winner! Photo provided by Aina Solano

Igor, who hails from San Sebastian but has lived in Mallorca for 20 years, has a reputation for his creative tapas.  He won the annual competition to find the best tapa offered at TaPalma in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015; he won the silver award in 2011, and bronze in 2014. Since last year, he’s been president of the competition’s judging panel.

Igor Rodriguez wins pinchos and tapa competition 2017

Igor is the champion! Photo courtesy of Aina Solano

Igor Rodríguez has worked at several well-known restaurants in Mallorca and is now at the stoves of Ham, a restaurant in the Port of Sóller. Here I must admit that I haven’t yet visited this restaurant but…it’s on the list.

Other foodie events this coming weekend

As well as TaPalma over the weekend there are two events taking place outside Palma. On Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th, it’s the Olive Fair in the village of Caimari and on Sunday, the Honey Fair in the small village of Llubí. Sounds like a delicious weekend for us foodies!

©Jan Edwards 2017

Restaurant review: Il Faro by Sascha, Arta

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Chefs / Eat / Restaurants

What makes a restaurant good? It’s a subjective question for sure. I am often asked which is my favourite restaurant in Mallorca and that’s impossible to answer. I do have quite a few I love – and they include some (at the upper end of the price scale) where we’d eat more often if finances permitted.

What these diverse eateries have in common is that they all offer a great overall experience: the food’s really good, the setting is comfortable and attractive, and the service is professional but friendly. Consistency is the key here:  when an accomplished chef leaves for a new job or there’s a regular turnover of front-of-house staff, it can be hard to maintain standards. That’s why quite a few of our favourite places are owned by the chef or have a chef who feels valued enough to want to stay.

Consistency can only be gauged after several visits and, having eaten there four times in the past couple of months, I’m happy to recommend Il Faro by Sascha in Mallorca’s northeastern town of Artà.

The chef/owner Sascha is German and his restaurant was previously located in Artà’s back streets under a different name (Na Creu). He moved his eatery to the town’s semi-pedestrianized main street and the premises of former Italian restaurant Il Faro (meaning ‘the lighthouse’), adding ‘by Sascha’ to the existing name.

The restaurant

During fine weather you can eat at a table on the terrace at the front, people-watching. Indoors has a cosy feel and there was definitely heating on when we visited on Saturday night (when the rain was hammering down outside during a thunderstorm). At the back of the restaurant, next to the bar area, steps lead down to what’s signed as the ‘bodega’, where there are more tables and, in one corner, the kitchen.

The food

If you love a decent steak, Il Faro by Sascha is definitely worth a visit when in Mallorca. Sascha buys premium Australian beef and knows how to cook it to perfection. You can choose sautéed vegetables or salad, and steakhouse fries or rosemary potatoes to go with the meat and there’s a choice of pepper sauce or herb butter.  The 200g fillet is recommended, but if you like your portions larger, there are 250g, 300g, and 350g fillet sizes; the 300g rump steak, or the 350g rib-eye. We don’t eat much meat (especially at home), and 200g was plenty for us.

Other meat dishes include lamb, guinea fowl, liver, and duck. In addition there are wok-cooked dishes, served with rice or Asian pasta, and fish dishes (I’ve enjoyed the delicious grilled salmon with vegetables and mustard and honey sauce).

Veggie? No worries here. Despite this being a recommended option for steak fans, Il Faro by Sascha has wok and salad choices for vegetarians.

Having eaten here a few times, we’ve tried several dishes and have not been disappointed by any. During our last visit – Saturday – we shared a portion of fat Medjool dates wrapped in bacon, served around a tastily-dressed salad. We almost had a fork fight for the last one (one portion was plenty for two, but we were three!).

The wines

Most of the wines at Il Faro by Sascha are from Mallorca, with labels from the island’s two official DOs (Pla i Llevant and Binissalem), as well as Vi de la Terra wines. The other wines are from the Peninsula. We found the prices reasonable for the quality of this restaurant, for example: Ribas Blanc (21€ bottle), Mortitx Flaires (21€), and Son Fangos (organic, 21€). Some list wines are available by the glass and there are also house wines (white, rosé, and red) for 3,10€ a glass.

The service

We’ve seen only female servers during our visits so far. Our experience of the service has been good, but one person – Carmen – stands out for her friendliness and sweet nature. She greets everyone like a respected old friend, with a hug or an affectionate rub of the arm where appropriate. When I took my father and uncle (both widowers) during their week’s holiday in September, they were so enchanted by her that we had to return another night for dinner. Carmen is a real gem and, if you’re eating alone for any reason, you won’t feel like Billy No-Mates at Il Faro by Sascha. 

Note

Being German-owned and in an area that’s popular with Germans, the website for Il Faro by Sascha is in German only. Don’t let that put you off going if you are not German-speaking.

Prices correct at time of writing.

©Jan Edwards 2017 

Review: Restaurant Arrels by Marga Coll

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Eat / Sleep

Summers – even long ones – always pass too quickly on Mallorca. I had been intending to visit Arrels by Marga Coll for months but suddenly this seasonal restaurant located within the 5-star Gran Meliá de Mar in Mallorca’s southwest resort of Illetas was about to close for the winter. We just made it in time on Friday as it was the penultimate service of the season.

We’ve never stayed at this adults-only hotel, but it’s on the (growing) list to try. It has a privileged location on a promontory, with its own small cove and beautiful views of the Bay of Palma. The building itself is an icon in Illetas: the Hotel del Mar first opened in May 1964; in 1968 Sol Meliá had 50 per cent ownership and a few years later the hotel became a part of the prestigious Mallorcan hotel group. Upgraded to a Gran Meliá hotel a few years ago, it also has a Clarins Spa and choice of restaurants amongst the reasons to stay here.

The cuisine at Arrels by Marga Coll is Mallorcan. Marga also has her own restaurant – Miceli – in the village of Selva (a couple of kilometres from Inca). For both restaurants, Marga bases her dishes for any day on the fresh produce she buys at the market that morning; the menus change daily.

Our dinner at Arrels by Marga Coll

 

We ate al fresco on Friday evening. It was still just about warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the views of lights twinkling around the bay. A waiter kindly brought me a blanket, just in case I became chilly later – although it wasn’t needed. The service was very good and friendly; you’d never have guessed that the team was probably counting down the hours to their holidays.

Our server brought us a small red notebook each, in which the day’s tasting menu was handwritten. There was something about this idea I really loved – and not just because, as a writer, I can’t resist notebooks; it seemed more personal than perusing a printed menu or screen-swiping on an electronic device. And it gave us a chance to tell our server in advance if there was anything we didn’t like or couldn’t eat. In fact when I’d phoned to book the table I had been asked whether we had an allergies or dislikes and they had already noted The Boss’s dislike of garlic. Top marks.

Menu written in notebook at Arrels by Marga Coll

Handwritten menu (also available in English)

Other things we liked: the small tiles used as side plates for the delicious bread made on the premises; the tiles were handmade made by Huguet, a company in Campos that has been manufacturing hydraulic tiles by hand since 1933. The tables were simply decorated – each one had a pristine yellow pepper sitting on a dish and a small nightlight – and the chairs were comfortable. The food was served on hot dishes – particularly important when eating al fresco.  And did I mention the delicious bread?

We opted for the five-course tasting menu (43€) although we could have had an additional two courses, for a price supplement. We enjoyed all of the dishes (including the appetizer and petits fours, not photographed) and it made us determined to visit Miceli again soon (it’s been too long). And to return to Arrels by Marga Coll and the Gran Meliá de Mar* in 2018.

*Gran Meliá de Mar re-opens on April 6th, 2018.

©Jan Edwards 2017

Manacor’s artisan beer fair: Tast Cervesa Artesana

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Drink / Eat / tapas

Fans of Mallorcan craft beers may be interested to learn that the third edition of the Tast Cervesa Artesana takes place in the centre of Manacor this Saturday, October 21st, 2017. The event has a new venue this year: Plaça Sant Jaume, with a start time of 19:00h.

This year’s beers on offer will be from the following local artisan breweries:

Toutatis, Sulleric, Cas Cerveser, Beer Lovers, and Forastera.

Glasses of beer

Craft brews to try from Cas Cerveser

The event also includes the sale of tasty tapas, created by these Manacor businesses:

  • Apolo
  • Ca’n Florit
  • Sa Clova
  • Es Claustre
  • El Palau
El Palau owner ready to serve tapas

Nofre, the owner of El Palau

Read about last year’s Tast Cervesa Artesana here.

©Jan Edwards 2017

Review of Spot restaurant in Palma

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Drink / Eat

EatDrinkSleepMallorca was recently invited to try a new eating-out spot in the Santa Catalina district of Mallorca’s capital, Palma. Or perhaps that should be the new eating-out Spot – since that is the name of the restaurant.

Spot is located in premises previously occupied by the business BConnected, which had a showroom for trendy furniture and interior accessories here. Now the spacious building is home to this informal restaurant serving freshly made Mediterranean cuisine with some international touches. It’s a place where you can come for a coffee in the morning, a drink at any time of day, lunch, or dinner.

Spot is part of the restaurant group En Compañía de Lobos (Spanish for ‘in the company of wolves’) which also has seven restaurants in Barcelona and two in Madrid. This is their first in Mallorca. It’s not a chain: the restaurants are individually named and different from each other in both setting, style, and cuisine; the menus are all devised by the group’s executive chef Marcelino Jiménez.

We went for lunch. Spot is easy to find as it’s on one side of the Sant Magí church. Street parking is usually possible in the area (but buy a parking ticket from a meter if you’re there during the payment period).

The place

A black-iron wood-burning oven and a pile of logs beneath it were the first thing we noticed: they’re in a small foyer to the right of the restaurant entrance.  With the doors open, as they were, we could see the chefs working in the kitchen beyond the foyer. Wood smoke is one of my favourite aromas, so Spot almost had me before I’d even gone in!

Entering Spot, you’re in an area of tables where you can sit and just have a drink. The open front (when the weather is fine) gives the feel of being outdoors. Beyond this is the eating area and a large bar and counter (with high chairs for those who like to see a bit of prep-action while they’re eating or drinking).

Tables are a mix of round and rectangular and are well spaced, thanks to the size of the premises. We chose a rectangular table at the rear of the restaurant – where the large windows offer views of a small verdant courtyard with a couple of citrus trees (no al fresco eating though).

Mallorca is reflected in the Mediterranean décor, which includes fabrics, tiles, and ceramics from the island – although the interior design team was the Barcelona-based Tarruella Trenchs Studio. The result is informal, contemporary, and comfortable.

The food

The menu (also available in English, if you don’t speak Spanish) is split into the following sections: To share; pastas; greens, soups, & salads; pizza (from that wood-fired oven), and del mund (from the world). The menu is marked with different-coloured spots to indicate dishes that contain meat, fish, or neither. Vegetarians have a choice of four sharing dishes, two pastas, six from the greens, soups, & salads, and three pizzas.

Alex, the manager, recommended that we try the sharing dish tortita with tuna sashimi, avocado and chipotle mayonnaise (three pieces for 9€). This is the only dish that appears on all the group’s restaurant menus and we felt we had to try it.

We also shared some other dishes, including something I hadn’t seen before on the island: black pizza made in the wood-fired oven (14€, but large enough to share if you’re having something else too). The base was made from the trendy gastro-ingredient activated charcoal (food grade, of course), and topped with fresh fig, the French cheese Morbier, local black sausage, and rocket. OK, it may look as though the wood-fired oven got a little overheated, but it doesn’t taste burnt!

The bread was another noteworthy item here: made with olive oil, it had a good crunchy crust (baked in the wood-fired oven). If you want to dip it in olive oil, be sure to ask for the oil, as no condiments were on the tables during our visit. If they sold the loaves to take home, I’d have bought one.

The wines

The list includes Mallorcan wines, as well as labels from the Peninsula, some of which are available by the glass. Prices seemed reasonable, for example, a bottle of the Mallorcan Obac from Bodega Binigrau, was listed as 24€. The Boss opted for an alcohol-free beer (he was driving) and I had a glass of Bodegas Angel’s Atac (white), at a fair price of 3,50€.

Would we return?

Yes, most definitely. We enjoyed the tasty food, which seemed to be made from good-quality ingredients, and the ambience of the place. My only small criticism was that the music (clearly from a decent sound system through ceiling-mounted Bose speakers around the place) was a little too loud for easy conversation. Great choice of  tunes though!

Spot has the vibe of a place to be enjoyed with a group of friends, sharing several dishes in that lovely convivial way that’s part of the lifestyle when eating out on the island of Mallorca.

©Jan Edwards 2017