With every trip away we like to investigate the local restaurant scene in the hope of finding hidden gems, or places on trend, to dine in…or at least get an idea of places to avoid. TripAdvisor is a great source of information for restaurant rankings, and if you can be bothered scrolling through reviews, you can quite quickly gauge places that are either a hit or miss.
Before heading off to Cuitadella for our relaxing week at Hotel Can Faustino we undertook a little research but struggled to find any clear recommendations, possibly because this is the second town in the least popular Balearic island, so with so many mixed reviews we’ve decided to share our views on seven restaurants. Please note we have since written a newer review following a second visit, which can be read here.
We’ve create a ranking out of 5, with the best ones towards the end:
Es Roseret 1/5 : Spanish/Pizza
Stuck in a time warp (decade unknown), fellow hotel guests swore by this place and went back several times, we came to the conclusion that they didn’t have any taste buds. We shared some tapas to start; meatballs tasted like they came out of a can, calamari couldn’t be found between the heavy batter mix and the simple tomato bread was bland. The pizzas were just OK. Can’t believe we waited 40 mins for an outside table.
Mon 3/5 : Spanish/International
Signor Mon was the chef at Hotel Can Faustino until he left to open his own restaurant. We were very excited about this one; it’s in the Michelin Guide (albeit unrated), gets stunning reviews and the chef has an excellent CV. It’s a small restaurant by London standards. The Maître d’ seated us, the sommelier recommended wine, moorish pizza crisp breads were served with a glass of champagne followed by a stunningly flavoured amuse bouche – we can’t quite remember what it was but some sort of stuffed fruit with truffle flavours. A great start, menu read well but somehow they didn’t manage to quite pull it off.
We started with “Prawns; fried with tomato and basil”. These were in fact pastry wrapped deep fried prawns with a bitter lemon sauce and were not only disappointing but had an odd taste and not fresh flavours we were expecting. The “Brusat” – crumbled cheese served on a thin toast with tomatoes, anchovies and fig marmalade – was beautifully balanced but large. We both tried the Entrecote for main; it was presented beautifully but the “herb emulsion” was overpowering and over every slice. Served with a heavy potato accompaniment this dish really needed a light side dish for cut through, but nothing was available on the menu. We couldn’t finish the main but really wanted to rate the desserts so we shared the chocolate, baileys and coffee dessert from the menu. This was a refreshing welcome in a rather warm restaurant as the coffee element was a granita, but all in all we were disappointed.
The food was too heavy, the service too fussy, and you could literally hear a pin drop even with the restaurant at 70% capacity.
S’amarador 3/5 : Spanish/International
Down along the marina is row after row of restaurants that cater to tourists, the give away being their English infused menus. There is however two “upmarket” establishments which were also recommended by the hotel (Café Balear is the other). With a huge menu specialising in fresh fish, with a large meat selection, S’amarador was packed every time we walked past it (both inside and out). A lively restaurant with smartly dressed guests, we had high expectations but again, it didn’t deliver. The tuna starter was lovely, if not a rather odd colour, the veal Carpaccio was bland and greasy. We both had a steak, which was cooked well, however the mustard sauce was forgotten and when it arrived it was literally seeded mustard (from a jar?) with warm water added – unpleasant. The staff were unattentive with service rushed. We shared a dessert, which didn’t wow.
One of the nice things about being in a friendly hotel is that we all swapped dining notes around breakfast – others confirmed that they’d also been disappointed in S’Amarador but one couple had had a fabulous meal in Café Balear, so maybe we chose wrong.
Ses Voltes 3.5/5 : Spanish/International
Ses Voltes looks very unappealing with two entries on the busy old town street. We walked past it a dozen times before deciding to bite the bullet and try the acclaimed tapas – it was so good we went back the following day. If the upstairs (air conditioned) or roof terrace (which has a full menu) is half as good as the tapas selection then you won’t be disappointed. The fried Sobrasadas ravioli with honey is a must – trust us; we loved them!
Cas Consol 3.5/5 : Spanish/International
It probably has the best location, on the main square with a gorgeous terrace overlooking the marina. Curiously, Burger King is right next-door and has the higher terrace, so potentially an even better view (FYI BK’s Chorizo & Cheese Bites sounded tempting!). You need to book if you want to sit on the small terrace; they were turning those tables almost hourly. A lovely menu of classic Spanish dishes at a good price. It was casual enough to be fun but dressy enough to be a night out. The Salmorejo (a sort of creamy Gazpacho) was stunning, mains lovely and the liquid truffle dessert was completely unnecessary, but a guilty delight.
Santa Clara 4/5 : Pizza/Pasta
A gem of a find. Tucked away from the centre of town and next to a convent of the same name this tiny restaurant fills the entire street with tables packed with locals. Serving simple pizza and pasta’s we were blown away; our starter of veal Carpaccio was wafer thin and exquisite and our pizza’s were also thin, crispy and clearly handmade. The highlight however was the almond cake dessert; made fresh daily by the nuns in the convent using whole almonds (peeled and cleaned by hand). Making one cake in low season and up to four in high season, it was the best almond cake EVER and we contemplated sneaking into the convent to steal the recipe. Salivating whilst we type this and worth a trip back to the island.
Es Tast De Na Silvia 4.5/5 : Spanish/International
They do say you save the best for last, and that’s true in terms of this blog and the fact we dined here on our last evening. From what we understood, this was a long-standing restaurant in another resort area in Menorca, and the owners had just moved to the heart of Ciutadella; it had been open less than a couple of months. Silvia dominates over a large open kitchen whilst her husband runs the front of house. Unlike some of the other restaurants that felt too fussy or fine dining, this was spot on – a busy, casual, fun restaurant that was all about Silvia’s cooking…and boy can she cook!
We arrived on the early side but lingered and watched the full theatre of Silvia and her trusted assistant work through a busy meal service; her young son even popped in and service paused so she could kiss him goodnight. It was wonderful to watch; almost as wonderful as the meal. It’s a small menu focussed on local, seasonal “bio” (we assume organic) produce.
We started with the meat Croquetas (best Croquetas we’ve ever had – and we’ve had many!) and a strawberry salad with artisan cheese; a dish so simple but perfectly balanced we tried tapping Silvia for the recipe via Twitter! The Sobrasada coca, onions, honey and goats cheese starter was served like art on a plate, with fresh edible flowers plucked from Silvia’s indoor herb wall. Delicious and visually stunning. For mains we both tried the breaded (bio) lamb chops – a curious dish of completely crumbed and deep-fried chops that whilst probably not the star dish were full of flavour and a delight to eat. We thankfully held back some of the salad which also worked perfectly with the mains. You would think we had worked out our portion control after six days but sadly, again, we were stuffed and had no room for dessert; but we enjoyed a complimentary semi-frozen shot of local Mahon Gin Lemonade before we left happy and singing Silvia’s praises! A must when visiting Ciutadella.
And that was our dining experience. We’re definitely hoping to go back to Ciutadella and whilst the majority of restaurants didn’t blow us away, there were lots of lovely choices and plenty of restaurants we didn’t try. To Elldrew, it felt like culinary Ciutadella has started a journey – lots of great chefs and interesting restaurants that with a little more practice may well excel…but the problem is that we don’t know how long ago this journey began for most. They have plenty of time and a big summer audience to do just that, so we’re looking forward to seeing how it changes in the years to come.
If we could give restaurateurs one valuable piece of advice…think about the balance of the dishes, and maybe look at adding lighter sides for patrons to accompany the heavier dishes…we constantly craved a simple side salad to break up meats and potatoes but nothing was available. Maybe it’s a cultural thing?