Es Recó de Randa, Randa, Mallorca.

April 2018.

Set in a small second-floor indoor room of a four-star hotel and a bigger pretty outdoor terrace in this typically picturesque small town, this place looked like it was going to be a classy find. Sadly the food and service weren’t up to expectation.

We got lucky and found a parking spot right next to the hotel building, and made our way through the opulent unaffected (although deserted) hotel bar and lobby and up the stairs to the restaurant. A middle-aged man server seemed to stop us at the door querying reservation although the dining area was almost completely empty. We had in fact our choice of nice shady outdoor tables and sat down getting ready for a lovely lunch.

A very garlicky aïoli and some stale brown bread arrived along with olives which we munched. Eventually the same fellow from the front door asked about drinks. He was of the slick smoothie school of server, winking and presenting menus with a flourish, and affecting being impressed with our choice of Marquis de Riscal red Rioja at €37 (it was a 2013 although the wine list didn’t bother with vintages. We happened to have bought a bottle in a supermarket for €18 the day before so this was a not-bad value).

It was an inviting menu with a lot of interesting-looking choices including a four-course fixed meal for €48, suckling pig roasted in a wood-fired oven, shoulder of baby lamb roasted likewise, sea bass with wild fennel, beef Wellington, and three kinds of paella. Lately at lunch we’ve been getting a couple of starters and a main course, all shared between us in the apparently acceptable tapas spirit. Here we had beef carpaccio, “mushroom and cheese raviolis with a truffle aroma”, and the wood-fired suckling pig.

The carpaccio was straightforward, nice red beef meat but a bit too soft although tasty with tiny half-tomatoes. The ravioli looked wonderful, covered with an off-white sauce and speckled with dark dots, but it didn’t taste like much of anything. Eventually we flagged down someone and got some salt which helped, but we were hungry enough that most of the ravioli was already down dark lane. The same apparent concern with our hypertension and heart failure affected the otherwise juicy and crispy suckling pig, split into two but enough altogether for one very big appetite. The meat benefited from salt all right, and the roasted potato pieces alongside were again flavour-free, done in some bland vegetable oil and also needing salt. Come on. Can’t we cook for flavour, seasoning food properly and using the much more delicious animal fat when it’s needed?

By halfway through lunch it was clear that the food and the service were mostly so-so, and at that point seven or eight sneering German-speaking spandex-clad middle-aged cyclists clomped past on their way to another outdoor table. It’s not the restaurant’s fault that the streets of the town and in fact all of Mallorca’s roads that we’ve seen so far are overrun with serious team-uniformed middle-aged bikers, but being reminded of this inside a restaurant seemed to add to our general disappointment. We had to ask three times over 15 minutes or so for the bill.

Don’t be fooled by the website pictures or the no doubt high class accommodation of the hotel. It’s ordinary fare and attention at best in the restaurant. Food 7.8, service 7.0, ambience 8.6, value 7.7, peace and quiet just fine until the cyclists arrived.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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