Walking into this restaurant in Palma’s trendy Santa Catalina district is like stepping into the majlis of an Arabic home. Dim lighting from the dangling lanterns and bedouin patterns are everywhere with traditional Lebanese and Egyptian furniture strategically placed. The walls and shelves house art and trinkets from around the Middle East and the small terrace feels like a different world.
Mamdoh and Pilar, the husband and wife team behind this unique restaurant are warm, friendly and passionate about their cuisine. Chat with them for five minutes and you feel as though you have known them for years. They serve us a glass of deliciously crisp Lebanese wine and lead us to our table. It is not long before the chefs emerge to the open bar area of the kitchen and begin to prepare our starters.
In Lebanese, and indeed other Middle Eastern cultures, it is deemed impolite to leave food on the plate and as our starters arrive I make the decision to loosen my belt so as not to offend! An array of mezze dishes arrive: homemade, creamy hummus, the delicately flavoured moutabel (aubergine dip), the freshest el-raheb (or monk’s) salad and the spectacular kibbeh of minced beef and Arabic spices. We slowly graze through these delicious dishes whilst sipping on some more wine (Mamdoh is definitely not a fan of an empty glass!) and chat with Pilar about our travels to the Middle East and life in Palma.
Our main courses appear a short time later, Lebanese mixed grill of lamb and chicken served on mini tridents with rice and fattoush. All of the meat was succulent and tender with a noticeable taste of the smoky grill it was cooked on. Alongside this medley of meat comes the slow-cooked lamb in a jus of lamb and pomegranate. The lamb simply fell off the bone and the jus was rich and blended beautifully into the side dish of rice with minced lamb, cinnamon, nuts and pepper.
Feeling full, we take a break from the table and head onto the terrace for a shisha with our Lebanese host for the evening. The alluring smell of the apple molasses transported us to a shisha cafe in the Arabian peninsula and we pose for the mandatory dragon-breath photos.
Returning to the table for our dessert we are greeted by some traditional Lebanese sweets including the bird’s nest and baklava which were fluffy and extra sweet. We also have a milk flan with banana, orange blossom marmalade and rose water which was like eating a cloud it was so light.
Rotana make the whole dining experience feel like you are eating with a family and the food is simply exquisite.
Why eat here?
A true Lebanese experience, a calming and beautiful environment, delicious food and the most gracious of hosts. Don’t miss the belly dancer at the weekends!