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Ibiza winter restaurants: Es Caliu

‘Restaurant Road’ on the way to San Juan is very much open for business all year round.

The road to San Juan, Ibiza has had a facelift in the past couple of years, and whilst now much easier to navigate, the old road never deterred diners from stopping at one of the many restaurants that have set up shop alongside it.

This stretch of road is known quite simply as ‘Restaurant Road' and is really a place where you are spoilt for choice when it comes to food.

The good news is that now many of the restaurants there are open during the winter, some with great lunchtime and weekend deals. We decided to pay a visit to Es Caliu, one of the prettiest eateries along this route, to try its special menu for Ibiza Sabor.

Pretty pastels

When I arrived, half an hour before lunch service was ending at 16:00, there were few people left in the restaurant and as I got my drink, it was evident that I would have the place largely to myself. Wanting some peace and quiet on what was the very first day of a week's holiday, this served me very well.

The restaurant is housed in an original Ibicenco farmhouse that's over 200 years old; the waiter excitedly showed me a small gap in the ceiling where the Posidonia seaweed, used in the old days in roof making, could be seen.

Inside and out the restaurant is decked out in pretty pastel colours and carefully preserves its rustic charm. The kitchen is open for all to see in one of the dining rooms, where you get a birds-eye view of the wood burning oven; with grilled meat a speciality, you can imagine how this was whetting my appetite.

And as it turned out, the Ibiza Sabor menu, as delicious as it looked was blown away in favour of their own special weekday lunchtime menu which offers three courses, two drinks and water for €35, which would essentially work out at the same as the menu I had gone in for, when the drinks are added on top.

A blaze of Autumn vegetables

Es Caliu uses fresh local ingredients to make their own take on Ibizan cuisine. I started off with vegetables roasted on the grill using that wood smoke to infuse my plate with the maximum of flavour. It is served with a romesco sauce, this one made with almonds that were more roughly crushed than normal and all the better for it.

The waiter told me it was more of a woman's dish and I didn't mind as what was to follow would need a soft landing for the stomach. I had been tempted by the roasted rabbit, though opted instead for the chuleton steak; this comes pre-sliced in a long arc on the plate and is a lot of meat to handle.

Ever up to the challenge, I welcomed said chuleton cooked a perfect medium rare with greedy eyes and open arms. Little work with the teeth was required for this soft-as-butter steak. Each mouthful provided yet more reason as to why I shall never be vegetarian or vegan. Meat like this is too good to miss in my view.

A lot of meat to handle

Wines by the glass are good here, the verdejo I picked for my starter was lovely, light and refreshing whilst the tempranillo I had with the second course was the perfect foil for the beef. The fact that both glasses were included in the price, means there's one less thing to worry about when the bill arrives.

A traditional flaò tarte was on offer for dessert and being so full of my previous two courses, I decided to take it 'to go'. Instead, I had their excellent homemade hierbas liqueur, which was quite divine and is really worth stopping by for.

Later, I tucked onto my mint-flavoured goats' cheese flaò sweet once ensconced in my Ibizan villa for the night. It is a dessert that no one should ever miss out on and very emblematic of the island.

We'll be bringing you more restaurants on this famous stretch of road this winter, look out for more tantalising gourmet tales.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Julian Heathcote and Es Caliu

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