Restaurant in Mallorca

Two Michelin-Starred Fine Dining Restaurant

David Harfield discovers that it’s always the right place, right time at Castell Son Claret’s inimitable Zaranda.

As somebody whose job it is to eat out, you’d have thought that I’d have the basics nailed down by now.  Like I say, you’d have thought so.  Sure, I have to make sure that I’m dressed in suitable attire and of course remembering which hands the knife and fork go in is a must, but first, above all else...I have to arrive at the right restaurant.  When staying at Mallorca’s destination dining 5-star boutique hotel, Castell Son Claret, I’m so excited to get to the double Michelin-starred Zaranda that when I arrive at its sister restaurant, Olivera, I’ve already taken my seat and am searching for a menu before my girlfriend nudges me to say that we might want to double-check where we are.  Cue an embarrassing (for me) and amusing (for everyone else) shuffle next door as the charming staff bid us a cheery, “Adios,” and I promise to return in the morning to try their breakfast.  A seasoned pro, ladies and gentlemen, a seasoned pro…

We arrive in the bar area, where the personable bartender recommends a couple of cocktails to start us off on our culinary journey: a deconstructed Spritz has sunken orange bubbles of Aperol resting in the bottom of the glass while an even more bizarre concoction of earthy liqueur and citric fruit juice is served in what looks like a plant pot and tastes like cola bottle gummy sweets, (somehow) in a good way.  The ‘bar nibbles’ come in the form of a tree with little pots of olives, Piemonte chilli-tinged almonds and sea fennel held in its branches.  Your local boozer, this ain’t.

From the miniature clothespin holding a CSC-branded ribbon to the innovative glassware, attention to detail is clearly paramount and this is a theme that’s continued as we move through to the tastefully decorated restaurant.  The team of waiters, manager and sommelier greet us effusively and we’re sat with our backs to the kitchen from which we can hear the slight tinkle of knives on metallic surfaces and light, staccato chatter of the chefs as they prepare the dishes that guests have travelled hundreds of miles to taste.

A platter of amuse bouches arrive with a greeting card-type menu explaining that La Ruta De Las Especius is the restaurant’s tribute to the cultures along The Spice Route and their legacy in gastronomy.  The crockery is so impressive that I remark about it to the waiter who informs me that it is all handmade from local vendors, as are the place settings, paintings, etc. and that the name Zaranda translates as ‘sieve’, with the restaurant’s ethos being to strain all extraneous elements away and keep the best of the best.  This unique yet relaxed aesthetic allows the food to show off in the spotlight rather than stifle it with a highly-strung, rococo environment.

And show off it does.  A spring roll-esque parchment of minced prawn and mint starts us off on the trail of spice and along to a Moroccan hen pastela (translating this into my native Mancunian of ‘egg pastie’ doesn’t really do the delectable delicacy justice).  A lightly battered olive is the star of the show, its crisp skin encasing a warm, saltine interior that pairs copacetically with a dribble of pond-green pesto.  The kitchen isn’t afraid to present strong and bitter tastes and it is this boldness that sets it apart from its people-pleasing peers.

Next up is a crab bisque that I can best describe as a ‘rave of flavours’, the piscatorial overtones dancing on the palate along with a crisped morsel of soft crab meat that adds textural diversity to the outstanding dish.  A very dry Manzanilla Pasada de Sanlúcar de Barrameda neutralises the adventurous tastes with a saltine tang, like a welcome brigade of fun police.

The fish theme continues into the next course, which is accompanied by another card that contains a short vignette on shipwrecked merchant ships becoming homes for octopi; I shouldn’t be surprised, then, when a clay octopus swims onto my table containing a paprika and octopus bisque along with skewered baby octopi that taste of smoked charcoal and are pretty much the most lifelike food that I’ve ever put in my mouth.  This takes some beating, but if anything can do it it’s The Blackegg, an inky-coloured poached albumen that spills a molten yolk all over the swirl of white onion velouté; a blackberry-esque constellation of cuttlefish caviar offers a superb, jammy tang to what is a truly showstopping plate.

The sommelier has been keeping us topped up with a wide variety of exciting tipples all evening, each paired to the dishes with aplomb and he now pulls out what is to be my favourite: a light pinkish, raspberry jam-flavoured Gran Caus that marries incredibly well with the thin, rectangular fillet of red mullet that’s topped with a scattering of dried crustacean chippings, adding a reassuring crunch to the dish.

Our final savoury course is a pave of veal tongue with a glaze so thick and lacquerous that it looks like a slice of hot chocolate fudge cake (and tastes just as indulgent).  With a miniature hedgerow of warm leek scrolls, and a strip of potato adorned with chives, this is certainly a contender for my top dish of the night.  Dessert is entitled Four Seasons (of a Mallorcan almond) and is a cute array of the nut presented in, yep, four different ways, the most exciting being the one which detonates an explosion of ice cream on first bite.

After our appreciative stomachs have settled, we take a peek into the bustling kitchen where a veritable army of talented chefs are loading up for tomorrow night’s battle.  This has been an absolutely wonderful display of what a top kitchen team can do given limitless ambition and full creative freedom; so impressive, in fact, that the next time that I turn up at a restaurant, I’ll be half-hoping that they greet me with a, “No, no sir, you’re actually booked into Zaranda…”  And back I’ll go.

Read our review of the Zaranda’s excellent luxury boutique 5-star hotel, Castell Son Claret.

David Harfield is a freelance food and travel writer and the director of the social media solutions company PepperStorm Media

Photographs courtesy of Castell Son Claret

Reviewer's Rating
Cuisine Spanish
Need to book Yes
Clientele Families, honeymooners and businesspeople
Restaurant good for Couples, Families with children, Romance, Bar scene, Doing business
Cost per head Expensive
Dress Code Smart Casual
Dining Options Dinner

Additional Ambience Information

Relaxed and courteous staff.

Additional Price Comments

At €120 (€185 with wine pairing) for their cheapest tasting menu, they undercut many of their rivals.

Last updated on 24-03-2016

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