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.
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