C’an Costa, Valldemossa, Mallorca.

April 2018.

Following our pattern of driving away from our base camp to allegedly lovely towns and then seeking out Michelin-named restaurants for lunch, we chose this eatery in Valldemossa, which town we foolishly understood from a travel blogger was “unspoiled”. The town, perched up a mountainside, is ravishingly beautiful but is fatally clogged with buses full of tourists and gangs of cyclists in false professional-looking gear who make it very hard to reach the town by road. Fortunately this restaurant is a kilometre or so outside the town and was pretty well deserted it when we found it at about 12:30.

It’s an authentic-style rocky and stone-walled venue with ancient pergolas, including an indoor space but also a pretty garden outside on a couple of levels with dark red tablecloths set formally and invitingly. A young male server welcomed us with restaurant-serviceable English and gestured toward the couple-of-dozen tables to take our choice.

The menu is hard to find online, but it is what we’ve quickly come to understand is traditional Mallorcan cuisine: a variety of seafood and meat dishes as well as the classic Spanish rice items including paella. We chose the baby squid for our shared starter, and it was a good double-handful of softly-sauteed two-centimetre creatures piled on a plate, with a lemon to squeeze on top and the subtle aïoli that arrived with olives and (sorry, stale) brown bread. Although these little morsels were a bit oily and chewey, they were delicious and we enjoyed them with the aïoli, lemon, and some salt.

We went for the paella which was presented on a side table in a steaming broad pan. There was plenty. My only criticism beside it’s being a little bit liquidy flies I’m sure in the face of Spanish tradition: why don’t they get the shellfish out of its carapace? Yes, I’ve done dozens of crab and prawn stocks and I think I understand the flavour value of including crustacean shells in relevant soups and stews. But unless you are an experienced aficionado it’s not that easy to get the meat out of the langoustines and lobster pinchers without spending more time than is worth the trouble.

The flavour of the rice was absolutely glorious, rolling around fully in its shellfish, chicken, stock, and of course saffron aroma and taste. Maybe the little prawns etc. are not meant to be eaten but just to flavour the rice, I could understand that. Anyway it was satisfying although I’m inclined from now on to order something else in restaurants featuring this wonderful traditional peasant dish.

The second server was a lovely girl who spoke fluent English and was attentive, colloquial and efficient. She packed up the extra paella in a plastic container and we carried it away in a bag. Our bill was a refreshing C$99.

Perfectly respectable Mallorcan cuisine in a pretty and authentic setting near the famous and beautiful town which has however been ruined by tourists. Frankly there are lots of better places to eat on the island and sadly you’ll be disappointed in the town unless you have just crawled off a tour bus or are a narcissistic German fake team-cyclist stopping for some preening (for the benefit of the elderly Asian tour-bus crowd) and electrolyte-balanced rehydration.

Food 8.7, service 9.1, ambience 9.0, value 9.2, peace and quiet 8.9 (outdoors, and nobody around).

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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