We were spoilt for choice when it came to Mallorca eateries, and unlike so many European cities, whose central arteries are clogged with tourist-trap restaurants whose superior central locations and extravagant prices are seldom equalled by quality food, it at least appeared as though the majority of Mallorcan restaurants were popular with both locals and tourists alike, attracting both factions with good food and reasonable prices. Frankly, while I would have been happy to dine in Cappuccino Grand Café day and night, I thought it only reasonable that I try to diversify, for the sake of gastronomic exploration.
My first choice therefore, on the back of excellent tripadvisor reviews, was Forn de Sant Joan in the c/Sant Joan (bang in the centre, close to the Passeig de Born). Feeling slightly sceptical having had a look at the restaurant’s website and seen that they have an entire tab devoted to their celebrity clientele (thus screaming tacky – although to be fair, we were sat next to the Polish superstar actor Piotr Adamczyk) we could not deny the sheer popularity of the place which more or less overflowed from its rather elegant reception area. Guided into the restaurant by a very welcoming front of house, the place seemed to go on for ever – I think we were sat at least two floors up, although to be honest I got a little lost on the way in and was far too merry on the way out to notice. Nevertheless the restaurant was not uncomfortably big – rather the old building featured a series of small cosy rooms, full of quirky furnishings and bright art works.
We were immediately struck by brilliantly efficient service, which lasted throughout the night. Our waiters, like so many Mallorcans, spoke perfect English (as well as German, it seemed, which comes in even more useful in Mallorca than English), made suggestions, never let our glasses go dry and, most importantly of all, gave us a free dessert to sample, in addition to the two we had already ordered.
But let’s not jump the gun. Before we got to dessert, first there was the small matter of some savoury samplings.
Forn de Sant Joan has a large menu, with a whole range of innovative tapas up for grabs before you even get onto the starters. Wanting to sample both, we went for a tapas of mini cornets filled of a cerviche of sea bass and langoustines with coconut foam, and a starter thai salad with mango, papaya, coriander and grilled prawns. The cerviche was incredible. Served with cones stood up on a mini beach of pebbles, one bite in and the cornet exploded like a tidal wave of sensational flavour running over the tongue – utterly fresh, zinging with citrus acidity, but still allowing the perfumed subtleties of the fish to shine through. Less enticing was the thai salad which, despite being hand-tossed for me at the table by a waiter “so that the dressing is mixed properly” (I’m not overly sure why they didn’t just mix the dressing properly in the first place), was fairly ordinary, rather lacking in the much promised tropical fruits, and including bog standard little prawns the likes of which sit happier in your average supermarket prawn cocktail, and certainly showing no signs of having been grilled.
Onto the mains – for me a grilled bream with mashed potatoes, lobster cream sauce and herring caviar. While a little light on the caviar for the price, the fish was undoubtedly delicious – the lobster cream sauce rich and flavoursome, and the potato devilishly creamy. My partner had a grilled fillet steak with grilled teriyaki vegetables and potatoes au gratin (I neglected to take a photo, sorry!). I’m not necessarily convinced that the gratin and the teriyaki married naturally together, but on their own, the components were delicious.
The real stars of the show were those desserts however. We were spoilt for choice, and walking away from the restaurant, I remained tempted to go back in and order one of each of the desserts on offer, such was the temptation engendered by their description in the menu. Luckily, thanks to the generosity of the waiter, we were able to sample a taster of allegedly the most popular dessert of the restaurant, and something of a signature dish – strawberries filled with creme brulée (“baccio di dama”). This bite-sized dessert was a nice idea, but the creme brulée was too subtle in flavour to stand up against the bold natural flavour of the strawberry. However, the desserts we did chose were much more successful – for me “Chocolate looks to Asia” – a moorish grainy chocolate mousse with toffee, lemon grass cream and ginger crumble was a harmony of spice and chocolate which had me secretly transported on a mental magic-carpet ride to some far off spice market, munching upon sumptuous dark chocolate as I went. For my partner, a semifreddo of passion fruit with a praline and chocolate ganache made for another finely balanced, light and elegant combination.
So while the food wasn’t always perfect, there is no denying the excellent service and great choice of food on Forn’s menu – looking around the room, some of the other tapas dishes on offer looked really quite exciting. And as far as celebrities go, we had a Polish one bang next door to us. So in that respect, the Forn de Sant Joan really were true to their word.
Details of the Forn de Sant Joan can be found on their website, and reservations made online.
- Mallorca (Part I) – Day 1: Banoffee bienvenido back to the good life (daily-norm.com)
- Mallorca (Part II) – Photography Focus 1: Semana Santa (daily-norm.com)
- Mallorca (Part III) – Day 2: Port d’Andratx and Es Baluard (daily-norm.com)
- Valencia (ix) – Food Focus 2: Seu-Xerea (daily-norm.com)