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.
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?
UPDATE FOR 2020
Arrels by Marga Coll opened for the 2020 season on June 29th. This year the restaurant offers only a seven-course dinner for 56€, excluding drinks. The menu changes every day and the restaurant is open every evening except Mondays. There’s no à la carte.
©Jan Edwards 2017