Whilst we’ve established that Ibiza is not all about clubbing and the San Antonio ‘lads on tour’ scene, you may not know that it’s not even just about the beaches. Ibiza is full of rolling fields and stunning vistas that overlook the hilly countryside, and La Paloma is an excellent example of a quiet hillside set restaurant in the tiny inland village of San Lorenzo that takes in the beauty of this side of the island. The restaurant is set in the middle of citrus orchards and run by an Italian family who swear by home cooking fresh ingredients just the way they like them, and we were lucky enough to eat there amongst the fairy light strewn trees one evening.
Starting off with a round of strong and refreshing dark rum mojitos, we settled down in the candlelit courtyard area outside at dusk. The courtyard is all mismatched chairs and wooden tables, with pretty cut flowers in vases sat amongst vintage crockery. The menu isn’t large at La Paloma, which can be a bit of a blessing if you ask me – too much to choose from can become overwhelming, and the ethos behind this small menu is it allows the chef to deliver higher quality through smaller quantity. The Italian family that own and run La Paloma ship many of the ingredients they use direct from their home country, including capers from Sicily, antipasti from Tuscany and of course their aged parmesan. They do also try to use local products as much as possible too however, even getting their mozzarella made by an Italian who lives on the island, and everything is organic where it can be. Homemade focaccia is made at their own bakery and the restaurant grows their own vegetables – it is clear that quality and sustainability is of the utmost importance at La Paloma.
As may be expected given La Paloma’s roots, there is a distinct Italian vein that runs through the food on offer among the starters as well as the mains. As favoured by our group, we ordered starters to share: bruschetta (€6), aubergine parmigiana (€12) and goats cheese salad (€16). It turned out there was a bit of a translation problem as the goats cheese was definitely blue cheese, which made it off limits for me, blue cheese being one of the few foods I can’t stomach. It went down well with everyone else however, the pear and hazelnuts adding an interesting layer to the dish, so I’m told. The bruschetta was lovely and the aubergine parmigiana was particularly good, and something I’d definitely order should I visit again.
For main I had their famous fillet of steak with balsamic and thyme sauce, served with roasted potatoes and vegetables (€31) which made me the envy of the table. The fillet was huge and perfectly cooked to rare, though due to the sheer size of the steak I would have preferred more potatoes to have been served with it to balance the dish out more. Okay yes, it seems wrong to complain that a fillet steak is too big! The rack of lamb marinated in soy, ginger and honey served with sweet potato and mint sauce also went down well in our group, and the seafood pasta was cleaned up equally quickly. It’s worth nothing that there are always vegetarian dishes on offer on the weekly changing menu, and vegans are also catered for. To round off the meal, I had an exemplary chocolate fondant with Madagascan vanilla ice cream (€9) which finished off the evening perfectly.
The al fresco setting with fairy lights strung through the trees is a real pull of La Paloma, and the unique location in the hills is a refreshing change from the beach clubs that Ibiza is so well known for. Unlike many other restaurants on the island, La Paloma is also open through the winter months, when their intimate indoor dining spaces are lit by cosy fires. The balance of locally sourced ingredients and those direct from Italy of which the quality cannot be beaten on Ibiza itself forms an excellent and carefully designed menu, whilst the decor is as welcoming as you could want – it kind of feels like you’re sitting in a friend or neighbour’s garden, it feels that homely. The thought that has gone into the La Paloma experience is clear, and the result is a beautiful, relaxed setting with lovely food.
Calle Can Pou, 4, 07812 Sant Llorenc de Balafia, Ibiza
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