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Sa Capella, resonating through generations

There are many romantic corners of Ibiza where visitors can share those special intimate moments with their friends and loved ones.

One such venue that has a special resonance for generations of visitors, is the charming restaurant Sa Capella. Housed in an unconsecrated 16th Century church just outside San Antonio, Sa Capella oozes class and atmosphere.

Firstly, let's get my cards on the table; I have been coming to Sa Capella every year for over twenty years. It is impossible for me to be entirely objective, as I am already in love with the place. It is one of the attractions that kept luring me back to the island over the years.

Going to the chapel - for another reason

As you enter the huge doors the bare stone and the high vaulted ceiling expose their rustic beauty to you. In front of you, an enormous statue, carved by Ibizan artist Antonio Hormigo from a 300-year-old olive tree trunk, dominates the chancel. It depicts an intertwined couple reaching to the sky and it replaces the altar in this chapel, where love and friendship are worshipped over superstition. Customers can choose to dine al fresco on the cool terrace or inside, in one of Sa Capella's intimate niches.

Although it may never win any prizes for creativity, the quality of the food is very good. The menu rarely changes and it offers essentially the same core dishes of years ago. The main courses are fish of the day or fine cuts of meat, barbecued on a charcoal grill. The most popular meat dishes are both for sharing; Chateaubriand or the Ox steaks - the latter cooked to taste on a hot stone at the table. New to the menu this year is the Brazillian favourite cut of beef, Picanha.

Service is their religion

Besides the evocative location, what makes Sa Capella a really great dining experience though is the highest standards of service. It is the magic ingredient that brings clients back, year after year. Like the venue, it harks back to a bygone age and upholds the finest tradition of hospitality that Spain is famous for. The restaurant is run by a cooperative of four members: Carlos the charming Maître D who never forgets a name, Pepe the convivial Head Waiter, Enrique the serious Sommelier and Agustin the Chef. It's a formula that clearly works, as they are all fully invested in caring about your satisfaction. The owners and their team are constantly buzzing around the tables, attending to your every need, with courtesy and pride in their work.

A light start

To begin we decided to choose the two most popular Sa Capella starters: a simple serving of excellent Foie Gras, topped with black salt and accompanied by a balsamic reduction and a choice of sweet marmalades (peach, red fruit, tomato and green pepper) and a very finely-sliced marinated tuna carpaccio with goat cheese and strawberries. The foie was rich and buttery while the carpaccio delicate with a beautiful salty, sweetness.

Feeling in the mood for a lighter meal, we opted for a couple of the fish dishes as our mains: Gilt head bream (dorada), baked in a salt crust, and turbot (rodaballo). The fashion for salt crust baking seems to be diminishing but this fish was perfectly prepared - the fillets were large and fleshy and the flavour nicely preserved by the salt. However, on the occasion, the accompanying garnish was a little disappointing. The turbot, served on a bed of pesto risotto, is a great combination - the unique flavour of this ‘king of the flatfish' was really enhanced by the addition of the pesto.

A big send off

Dessert was a hearty serving of Sa Capella cheesecake. The cake is a mixture of crème fraîche, cream cheese and Parmesan and is served with a red fruit sauce, cubes of quince and slices of strawberry. Warning! This is a BIG slice of cheesecake, so also perfect to share.

A firm favourite with the clients, especially the younger ones, are the crêpes suzette, flambéed at your table. It is rare to find these simple but delicious treats offered in restaurants nowadays but they are worth a revisiting.

At the end of any great Sa Capella meal comes the piece de résistance, their own home-made elaboration of the classic digestive, Hierbas Ibicencas. Now I consider myself a bit of an hierbas aficionado (having drunk many gallons of the stuff!) and I can safely say their version is easily my favourite.

Pepé has managed to blend just the right quantities of anise, rum, ginger and frigola to produce the most refined hierbas on the island. Served from the freezer in icy bottles, it has a uniquely orangey tang and it is virtually impossible to resist refilling your shot glass. Many a cheerful night in Sa Capella has ended with the complementary bottle being emptied and everyone swaying slightly as they head off into the night with happy smiles on their faces.


Quick Facts:

What? Sa Capella Restaurant

Where? Just outside San Antonio (San Antonio to Santa Agnes Road Km1)

When? Every day from April to October from 8.00pm

Why? One of the defining and romantic restaurants in Ibiza!

Average spend per head? For 3 courses with wine, expect to pay around €50-60 per person

Veggie Options? Not a huge choice but there are some options.

Disabled Facilites? It's a 500 year old building so there might be the odd quirk, but generally access is no problem.

Top tips? Take advantage of the complimentary bottle of hierbas!

Room for Improvement? Maybe just a little more effort on the accompaniments to do justice to the amazing fish?

WORDS | Tim Dacombe


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