Walk past the Palma de Mallorca restaurant Vandal during the daytime and you could be forgiven for thinking that this corner building – with a rather unexciting exterior in daylight – could be a nightclub. Come at night and it’s a different story. I’d wanted to try this Santa Catalina restaurant since it opened in 2017, but somehow we didn’t make it.
Back in February this year, I attended the Associació de Periodistes i Escriptors Gastronomics de Balears‘ annual awards ceremony and Vandal was awarded the title of 2017’s ‘Revelation restaurant’. I made a mental note that we really should try this restaurant.
OK, it took longer than expected, but we – in the company of some foodie friends – finally made it to Vandal recently. In the meantime, The Boss and I had had the opportunity to taste some of executive chef Bernabé Caravotta’s food as he was one of two guest chefs cooking at Ponderosa Beach’s Chefs’ Day, which ended their 2018 season in October. Resolve had been further strengthened by that particular culinary experience.
Influenced by world travel
Vandal is the product of its two creative owners’ international careers and offers one of Palma’s most diverse and innovative menus. Executive chef Bernabé Caravotta worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in France and Denmark – Mirazur and with René Redzepi at the renowned Noma, respectively – and at the Blue Elephant Thai cooking school in Thailand, before moving to Mallorca in 2007.
Bernabé’s restaurant partner Sebastián Pérez is the sommelier and restaurant director. Sebastián also worked in several notable restaurants, including some in New York, before coming to Mallorca in 2002. Little wonder that the menu at Vandal is influenced by their global travel and experiences.
Vandal’s décor has an industrial vibe: the design even incorporates some corrugated iron on the walls. Stools at the green-tiled bar counter are ideal for a drink before eating and the semi-open kitchen allows you to see the chefs at work.
The menu card layout looks a bit bewildering at first sight because its design is also innovative. As well as the name of each dish, it shows the country of origin and what tools you’ll need to eat it (hand, fork, or fork and spoon). A suggested drink pairing is also shown for each dish but there’s also a good wine list which, like the cuisine, features international influences. The helpful serving staff are on hand with advice and explanations if needed. Our server was particularly patient: we hadn’t seen our friends for a while and had some conversational catching-up to do, which initially distracted us from the important business of perusing the menu.
We all ordered different dishes (some are shown above – but not captioned, because I don’t want to spoil any surprises) and there was some sharing. I’d recommend doing this as it’s hard to choose with so many temptations on offer – and some dish sizes are not huge. My personal food favourites were the ceviche cornet with coconut foam, the flavourful roasted chicken croquettes with curried apple purée, and the dish named ‘When suckling pig meets curry’. Save room for one of the desserts too: mine was named ‘Childhood feelings’ and the menu informed me this was to be eaten by hand. Not only were the flavours of all the dishes exciting, but the presentation also added visual appeal.
I love that Vandal is different to other restaurants in Palma and apparently so do plenty of other people.The restaurant booking website El Tenedor has named its 100 best restaurants in Spain – based on the opinions of its users, concerning the food, service and ambience of the restaurants. Seven restaurants in Mallorca made it onto the list and, yes, Vandal was one of them. Needless to say, if you want to eat dinner at Vandal (open daily from 19:30h), you do need to book in advance.
Jan Edwards ©2019