Selfishly, we want to keep Mandala restaurant—in the appropriately named village of Orient—for ourselves. The picturesque rose-hued town is the trailhead for beautiful hikes, and the valley is verdant and bursting with wildflowers in the off-season, it is one of the island´s sincerest places. However, in keeping with Mandal’s zen spirit, we feel obliged to practice generosity, and share this island treasure.
Unassuming, Mandala is tucked away on a cobblestone street in the town. The interior is ascetic; simple tables are set in the living-cum- dining room where books line the shelves and simple objects are placed, purposefully. The garden terrace is intimate and leafy, overlooking the agrarian valley surrounding the town. Mandala is much like stumbling upon Babette’s Feast, an extravagant meal awaits, but unless you know who’s in the kitchen, you are none the wiser.
The Spanish chef, José Bellido prepares a daily 7 course tasting menu; Asian inspired, using French techniques and local ingredients. To start, a simple onion soup with sherry and a mahón crouton, is followed by artichokes in a roasted lemon emulsion. The plot thickens. Smoked eel with aubergine two ways and a sundried tomato bonbon reveal the chef´s innovation and where this gustatory story is headed. Cod with almonds, honey, and peas are layers of flavour, pure and unadulterated. The story arcs with a grilled lamb loin with beetroot and fennel custard is complex; refreshing, and savoury.
The final note? A passionfruit cream with yogurt and ginger is simple in design, intricate in ingredients and taste. Coffee is the last word, bitter and hot with petit fours, and chocolate truffles.
Like Babette, Bellido is generous and appreciative of his customer´s discerning palate. There is no showmanship, in fact Bellido prefers flavour purity to fancy presentation. His sensitivity and respect for ingredients is pure. His culinary tale reveals itself in each delectable morsel consumed.
A note: Mandala has no website, and their hours change according to the season. It is best to call to confirm the hours and make a reservation as it is the kind of place where you must accommodate their availability.