As always, the ROQUETA team of volunteers have been out and about trying a range of restaurants.
This issue we report on quite a diversity of offers, so something hopefully to suit all tastes and budgets. We have kept the symbols as we hope you find them helpful, and hope that the text is long enough to allow you to make a considered choice without us going over the top.
We have had some comment back from a couple of readers asking why the reports are frequently so good. This is generally because the standard of the restaurants on the Island is very strong – we are lucky. The ‘tasters’ do not get paid for their reports, and we always settle for the meals in full so that we can report in an objective way.
If you want more restaurant reports, then please refer to the website where previous reviews are kept. And, please let us know if you would recommend any restaurant.
ACUARIO, NA MACARET. 971 35 98 58
Four middle-aged girls decided to go on tour in Menorca, thanks to the generosity of a friend with a beautiful spacious villa in Na Macaret that she offered to lend to us. For a whole week we were able to relax completely – no work, nobody’s wife, mother, secretary, boss, sister, cook, gardener, just plenty of sunshine, lots of rosé and lots of chat, needless to say. Conversation was never a chore. No doubt you can picture the scene.
Na Macaret has a small beach, which was only a few steps away from us. Most days it was very quiet save for the three ducks who lived there and who could hear the rustle of baker’s bread paper from 50 yards. Our new best friends. We were able to buy fresh bread every day from the friendly bar on the corner.
It also boasts two restaurants, Acuario and Biosphera, next to each other in the small square where the ‘train’ comes in several times a day from Arenal. On our first night we headed straight to Acuario for drinks and were given a warm welcome, in spite of not dining there.
One of our number, Amanda, noticed the tank full of lobsters and insisted she would be able to hypnotise one on our return. Max, the chef, seemed bemused but she assured him she had been lulling lobster to sleep in Anglesey for years.
A couple of days later we returned for dinner and were treated like old friends. Dinner was absolutely delicious – mussels cooked three different ways, squid stuffed with prawns, herby roast lamb, skate wings, all washed down with a particularly good Menorcan red wine. We shared puddings, hot chocolate bombe and tarte tatin, four forks were no trouble.
But then came the moment – Max had not forgotten Amanda’s promise. He appeared holding a lobster and she set to work, trying to stroke its tummy to lull it to sleep. All I can report is that Spanish lobsters can’t be used to having their tummies tickled: it flapped its tail causing us and the entire restaurant to shriek, with both laughter and fright.
The atmosphere was good, the meal scrumptious and the service excellent.
RESTAURANTE BINIMEL·LA. 971 35 92 75
As instructed we left the Fornell’s roundabout down a thin country lane. That’s when the adventure started. It’s a good ten-minute drive down a surprisingly busy route, stop/start as cars carefully passed each other. Then a sharp right down a dirt road that is easily as wide as the M25 – both carriageways. Past all the parked cars and on to the ‘private’ restaurant car park.
We had been recommended the restaurant by a friend who raves about it, but he warned that at first sight it didn’t look great. We sat under a huge tree saving us from the lunchtime sun and settled down for what turned out to be a very good lunch. No view of the coast, but easily made up for by the lovely inland scenery of rolling hills and fields.
Plenty of the dishes on the menu can be found in other restaurants on the Island, but all of the fish, mussels and squid that we tried seemed to taste just a little bit fresher. It may have been the aspect and general good vibes being given off by all the guests and staff.
Highly recommended for a lunch and then a ten-minute stroll down to the beach for a swim.
The journey back did not seem so onerous as we were familiar with it!
THE FISH MARKET, MAHON.
The fish market has been transformed over the past few years. The traditional fish offer is still there of course, and we all enjoy having a good nose at the dozens of different fish on offer.
But half of the market has been given over to small food and drinks stands. There are specialists in various tapas, beers and local wines that can be bought and enjoyed either inside on stools or outside on tables under umbrellas. It is all very informal – no waiter service, no menus, come and go as you please. When you are a little hungry or thirsty, just pop inside and choose something you fancy.
Graeme Pearce beer, Menorcan wine, meats, fried foods, the range is very broad and everything is as usual delicious.
Only open at lunchtime, closed in the evening.
LA CARABA, TORRET – SANT LLUIS. 971 15 06 82
Having visited La Caraba on a previous trip to Menorca, I had high expectations for my return visit and was not disappointed.
La Caraba is a small authentic restaurant located just outside Sant Lluis, in the small town of Torret. Diners include a mixture of local residents and tourists, and together with the beautiful outside dining area create a relaxing and tranquil atmosphere.
The restaurant serves imaginative yet rustic Menorcan food. The menu is small but this only demonstrates their ability to cook excellent local produce with a degree of fine dining sophistication with interesting flavour combinations.
We shared a number of small dishes to start with, a highlight being the prawn, date and bacon kebabs. We also enjoyed the interesting special: sea urchins with a lemon parfait. To follow, I would highly recommend the Iberico pork served with baked apples and an apple compote, but be warned, it is served in the traditional way: medium rare. Given the heat in July, it is worth washing it all down with a delightful, slightly chilled Ribera Del Duero. For dessert we ordered the apple tarte tatin with custard to share. Sounding simple, it was executed with rustic flare and topped off the meal perfectly (prior to swilling a Calvados).
Imaginative, sophisticated yet completely unpretentious.
CHESSTERS AT LOS SIBARITAS DEL BUEU COMES, MAHON. 971 35 76 29
Cami d’es Castell, 271 Bajos Derecha, 07702 Mahon
This is an interesting eating experience – a delicatessen/café combo. The café is smart, modern and sophisticated and offers a well thought minimalistic menu. We went at lunchtime and sat outside in the shade.
The waiter – Frenchman Aureliano brought us some bread sticks with some herb infused gouda – very unusual but brilliant. On Tuesday and Thursday, they do a few specials which include ham, egg and chips. But not ham, egg and chips as my Mum makes. Iberico ham, two organic eggs, homemade chips on a truffle base. It was very simple but truly scrummy. Glass of house wine to accompany and we were very happy.
But the trick here is that next door is the delicatessen which offers all of the above, plus a very impressive wine cellar and lots of great food. Mandy the manageress is charming and very helpful, and the whole thing is a very nice experience. A little pricey I admit, but a treat to visit.