A chef with experience of working in Lima’s Astrid & Gastón – often cited as Latin America’s best restaurant – is now at the helm of his own restaurant in northeast Mallorca. Valencian chef Pablo Tamarit opened Cova Negra in Capdepera in April 2019; his restaurant is within the 4-star-plus Hotel Creu de Tau – a superb renovation and conversion of a former Franciscan convent, but run independently of the hotel.
I first visited the property when it was still a construction site: the former manager of sister hotel Melbeach Hotel and Spa in nearby Canyamel took us on a tour and, as we picked our way through rubble and around scaffolding, it was obvious that this would become an impressive hotel. Hotel Creu de Tau and Cova Negra opened in spring this year and we visited the restaurant for dinner last week.
Chef/patron Pablo Tamarit
Pablo originally studied business in Castellón but changed course, moving to hotel school in Valencia. After his studies he worked for some 18 months at Restaurante Envero in Valencia, with ex-El Bulli chef Tomas Garcia. He came to Mallorca to work at Can Simoneta, the 5-star coastal hotel in Canyamel, where he worked for 12 years – becoming head chef in 2010.
Working in a seasonal hotel enabled Pablo to travel and gain more culinary experience during the winter and, in 2013, he joined the famous Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio in the kitchen of Astrid & Gastón. You’ll find some Peruvian influences in Pablo’s cuisine.
Many of the original architectural features of the building were restored and retained as part of the convent’s conversion. The smart bar reveals its history as the convent’s former chapel; have a drink here or on the bar’s terrace. One wonders what the former Mother Superior would think about this!
The most striking features of the dining room are the gothic arches along the length of the dining room and large windows with views out to the hills. There’s plenty of space between tables and, for even more privacy, a tucked-away private dining room. The restaurant extends onto a large covered terrace, where you eat at cloth-covered tables with restful long views.
Cova Negra has a Mediterranean concept at lunchtime, with an à la carte menu of starters, grilled dishes and, of course (Pablo being from Valencia), paellas. The dinner concept is gastronomic with a very tempting à la carte menu, including a starter of lobster four ways, fish of the day, and Rossini tenderloin of Simmental beef.
Unable to choose from so many tempting dishes, we opted for the tasting menu (65€): seven dishes showcasing Pablo Tamarit’s culinary techniques and creativity. This menu can be accompanied by sommelier and front-of-house manager Ildara Bajo’s wine pairing for 45€. We didn’t indulge because of the drive home, but next time maybe we’ll stay the night and take advantage of the wines.
To start, we had two types of bread (rye and herbed focaccia), truffled beetroot butter, salt, and Aubocassa extra virgin olive oil.
Here are pictures of the dishes we ate. I haven’t given full details of each one – just a hint of what you could experience.
Each dish was explained by the friendly and efficient service-team member who brought it to the table. The kitchen has some attractive plates and bowls on which to present the food and I found myself peering underneath a few of them to see who the manufacturer was!
As always, when we have a tasting menu, we discussed our favourite dishes. I found it hard to choose an overall favourite, as I really enjoyed them all – but eating the tasty taco with fingers proved a little messy. Thank heavens for the hot towel provided beforehand! The Boss’s favourite was the beef; it was delicious.
Although we didn’t drink wine, I checked out the wine list. Cova Negra offers some good Mallorcan wines, including some from the DO Pla i Llevant (Capdepera is in the Llevant hills). Others are from the Peninsula, France, and California. Bottle prices start at 28€, although there is one at 26€.
Eating at Cova Negra in Capdepera is an experience we’re sure to repeat and I hope we’ll go for lunch soon to try out a paella made by Pablo Tamarit; as he’s from Valencia (home of authentic paella), I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth the drive to this beautiful northeast corner of Mallorca.
Good to know:
- Anyone who can’t manage the steps up to the restaurant entrance can access Cova Negra using the elevator at the hotel entrance.
- This is an adults-only (14+) establishment.
- Cova Negra is easy to find in Capdepera and shares the hotel’s adjacent large free private car park.
Prices correct at time of writing.
Open daily: 13:00-15:30h & 19:30-22:30h