Words: Olivia Ebeling
Photography: Tamara Sini
El Portalon has enjoyed a spectacular summer on the White Isle, making waves with its ‘farm to table’ culinary philosophy, friendly and knowledgeable service and magical ambience. Opening its doors late in the 2016 season, this year saw the venue change tack in its approach to food after bringing on board renowned cookbook author and organic farmer Anne Sijmonsbergen, who, together with executive chef Filippo Alberi, helped to create a menu that takes Ibicencan home cooking to cuisine level. And the good news is, if you are on the island in October you still have time to sample the extraordinary delights that have won El Portalon a legion of foodie fans.
Residing on one of the charming cobbled streets in the heart of Ibiza Town’s historic quarter Dalt Vila, many a passer-by has been lured into the restaurant and cocktail bar’s atmospheric tree-shrouded courtyard to relax, refuel and watch the world go by. The cocktail menu is as impressive as El Portalon’s food offering, with the passionate bar team using only homemade or organic ingredients to create their artisanal concoctions. We recommend to try the cocktail of the day, like the deliciously smoky Scarecrow made with mezcal, grapefruit, a homemade strawberry and mint shrub, angostura and aquafaba, a viscous water that mimicks the properties of egg to create vegan foam to top the drink with.
Using only the freshest seasonal ingredients from Anne’s farm and carefully selected local suppliers, El Portalon’s menu changes with the seasons, so now is the perfect time to visit and try the kitchen team’s autumnal creations. On our last visit, we feasted on El Portalon’s signature clams, served in a Pata Negra consommé with courgette pearls and shredded Bellota ham, a delicately balanced feast of flavours and the perfect warming opener for fall. We also tried the creamy and luscious stracciatella cheese, which was served on a bed of tomato tartar and dressed in basil oil, garnished with a slice of sweet fig, and utterly addictive dish we can’t wait to enjoy again.
The fresh fish of the day, line-caught cervia served with five types of carrots, ginger puree, anis star, pickles and homemade ricotta, was a visual and aromatic piece of art, which perfectly embodied the ethic of El Portalon and showed off Filippo’s creative talent. Making the most of the seasonal carrots before they run out, the kitchen whizz used his technical and presentation skills to produce five different varieties of the root: foam made with carrot juice, a classic puree, a delicate powder, a carrot crumble and a wrinkly ‘aged’ purple version of the vegetable. Meanwhile, we can also highly recommend the squid and sobrasada sausage crumble served on romesco sauce and a black potato crisp, which is coloured with squid ink and baked for six hours before being deep-fried to create the perfect crunchy texture.
Filippo told us, ‘We have what we call a ‘km zero’ approach, which means that we receive no produce from outside of Ibiza. So we receive the vegetables and fruits from Anne’s farm in the morning and they are still covered in earth and sand. And once an ingredient is out of season, we can’t use it anymore because we don’t order produce that is not from the island. In the beginning, that was a bit daunting, because sometimes we would have eight ingredients to create 14 dishes with. It wasn’t easy, but we made it!’
No visit to El Portalon would be complete without trying Filippo’s famous lemon tart, which is on the menu year-round, a cake topped with a deliciously zesty citrus curd which is beautifully balanced with a rich pastry crust and served with a dollop of silky sweet cream to soothe the taste buds after this flavour explosion. El Portalon will be open until at least the end of October, so make sure you put it high up on your list of gourmet destinations to explore.
Information & Reservations
t: +34 871 110 925