The growth of the tapas-based dining experience is one of the most impressive gastronomic success stories this side of the millennium. The once-humble bar snack has exploded into a culinary trend that has burst far beyond its native Spanish borders to appear on menus on eateries throughout the world. They have evolved from their modest status of stomach-lining nibble to shareable plates of often sophisticated cuisine.
With his successful Barrafina chain of tapas bars in central London already having garnered high acclaim – and a Michelin star – Eddie Hart has played a key role in the global tapas phenomenon. And with his move to Mallorca, it was only natural he chose to open his latest tapas enterprise in Palma’s city centre: El Camino.
The first thing that hits you upon setting foot inside is how beautifully finished it is. From what started as a shell, the interiors have been meticulously transformed into a gorgeous space, dominated by its dramatically long marble bar that runs almost to a vanishing point. Brushed bronze lighting, coffered ceiling and mosaic patterned flooring combine to elegant effect; large antique mirrors add the illusion of space. Behind the bar, a dozen-strong team beaver away preparing for the lunchtime swell.
Besides one reservable table at the rear, all dining takes place along the bar – great for dining solo or in pairs, antisocial for three or more. Perched on our plush leather stools, we began with courgette flower and goats cheese. It was neat bundle of lightly fried deliciousness, the salty cream of the cheese offset with a touch of honey. Next the ceviche with tiger’s milk was as delicately flavoured as any we had tasted, and testimony to the freshness and quality of the ingredients (for which El Camino is already well reputed).
From the specials board we’d ordered the sole, which came whole in a subtle garlic sauce. Its white flesh was light and creamy with the perfect balance between flakey and moist; outstanding though an expensive indulgence. Roast quail arrived next, piled with pine nuts, sultanas, and shallots, the lightly charred skin combined with the juicy gaminess pink within hit all the right tones. To finish was a mandarin sorbet on a bed of crumble, a classic palette cleanser, tartly refreshing.
Since it opened its doors in September 2018, word of mouth has be enough to propel El Camino to one of the most popular restaurants in Palma. But behind its polish and sophistication, the formula is disarmingly simple – offering a tight menu of top-quality, super-fresh produce with flavours drawn from a rich palette of traditional Spanish cooking.
As well as the tapas trend, Eddie Hart also contributed to the (for some irksome) rise in the no-reservation restaurant phenomenon, so unless you arrive early be prepared to queue for your spot at the bar. But rest assured it will be worth the wait.
Why eat here?
Top-notch tapas dining with buzzy bar vibe and gorgeous surrounds.
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