Take one urban hotel restaurant and add a renowned chef, from an out-of-town establishment, to create a special menu for your diners one night each week. It’s been a successful recipe for Opio Restaurant and Bar at Puro Hotel in Palma’s La Lonja, which, every Thursday this summer, has been serving a monthly-changing 14-dish tasting menu, under the banner of ‘Casual Food by Tomeu Caldentey’.
In 2004, the unassuming Caldentey became the first Mallorcan chef creating Michelin-starred cuisine; his east coast restaurant Es Molí d’en Bou is still in the famous red book. His menus for Opio don’t feature the Michelin-starred dishes served in his elegant restaurant in Sa Coma but are designed to complement the relaxed, informal setting of the stylish urban hotel, whilst showcasing his creativity with everyday Mallorcan and Mediterranean ingredients.
‘Casual Food by Tomeu Caldentey’ isn’t the only reason to come to this corner of La Lonja. The Swedish-owned Puro Hotel is a handsome restored 18th century ‘palacio’ with a light, cool and contemporary interior that’s also very comfortable and relaxing. You don’t have to be staying in one of the 51 rooms and suites (11 of which are in the exclusive Puro Private Wing on the opposite side of the lane) to eat or drink here. Opio Restaurant and Bar has become something of a hotspot for a stylish clientele of mainly Scandinavian, German, and British island residents and visitors.
We tried Tomeu Caldentey’s tasting menu. In the intimate 50-cover restaurant, we sat on comfortable upholstered chairs, sipping a complimentary glass of cava, nibbling seasoned almonds, bread and ‘alioli’, and admiring the contemporary art. Ihlam Routi, from Es Molí d’en Bou, was working front-of-house, with the Opio serving team; her Sa Coma colleague Catalina Tous, was in the Puro kitchen.
The tasting menu’s 14 dishes come to the table in four instalments. First: five different bite-sized treats, under the Spanish heading of ‘los snacks’ (menu available in English or Spanish); these included three different ‘bombones’ – the herb-coated cheese one being a personal favourite. There was a tasty morsel of pressed chicken with garlic, and what looked like tiny chocolate muffins, but were made from black olives, apple and ‘sobrassada’.
Next to the table were three dishes billed as ‘montaditos, latas y potitos’. An open oval tin – like those used for canned fish – contained sweet cherry tomatoes stuffed with fresh cheese, served on crushed tomato. Delicious – as were the cold filo aubergine pizza with salmon and pesto, and the paper cornet holding delicious hot chicken goujons, served with sweet and sour sauce.
Fish and meat were the stars of the next three hot dishes, shown as ‘tapitas y platillos’. There was a fish cannelloni dressed with a generous amount of tasty herb-laden sauce, served on a white oval plate; a small squid served with potato parmentier with vanilla – which looked like a piece of art on its rectangular dish – and a delicious piece of perfectly cooked suckling pig, served with prickly pear. The latter made me resolve to use the prickly pears in our garden that would normally fall and rot on the ground.
‘Algo dulce’ signalled the beginning of the end of Tomeu Caldentey’s tasting menu: goat’s milk French toast with cheese and iced fruits; chopped apricots served in a glass of rich chocolate sauce, and a foam of coconut rice pudding with pineapple. All good.
There’s a choice of wines from across Europe and the New World, as well as quality Mallorcan producers such as Binigrau and Castell Miquel. We tried the Puro White 2010, from the Spanish DO Yecla, made from Macabeo and Chardonnay grapes – a good house wine.
You’ll certainly need to reserve a table. In any event, the successful relationship between Puro Hotel and Caldentey will continue, and we look forward to seeing – and tasting – what this collaboration cooks up in the future. It’s likely to involve Puro Private Wing’s state-of-the-art showcooking kitchen . . .
More about Puro Hotel
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More about Es Molí den Bou Restaurant
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