The island of clubs, has a new kind of hedonism to head out for. Michelin starred dining at BLESS Ibiza. Nick gets a taste of the good life.
Having it large in Ibiza now means something different for me, it’s about having it ‘long’ with multiple courses at Etxeko.
That X in the name will give foodies a clue as to where chef Martín Berasategui comes from – the Basque country. He has his main restaurant there, not far from San Sebastian, and around the world his other restaurants have accumulated twelve coveted Michelin stars between them.
Michelin starred Etxeko is located inside BLESS Hotel in Es Canar. This luxury all-inclusive hotel sits in Cala Nova, a beautiful bay, and it has the most amazing sky bar, all infinity pools, cabanas and South American style food, as well as a wealth of pools at ground level, along with very tasty poolside bar and restaurant. You could dine every day at these and not be bored or unhappy.
Ah, but Etxeko is something special to splash out on. The tasting menu is around €180 a head, sans wine, but that’s not so expensive in Ibiza these days because since the pandemic, and the absence of clubbers, much of the island has pivoted towards well-heeled holidaymakers who want a more classy experience.
The restaurant is exclusively tucked away. After drinks in the Chanel inspired Tris bar you climb some semi-hidden steps to walk out into a modernist space of exposed concrete, rich dark woods, glass wine cellars and a genuine fig tree right in the centre.
Lighting is low, Instagrammers might object but his is refined dining, intimate and all-embracing. Food theatre at the highest level, so I keep my ‘phone mostly holstered. Some photos here were supplied by the hotel.
The menu is entitled Martin’s Journey, and is in Spanish, but of course an English menu is produced on request. Nothing is too much trouble. Dishes fuse Basque cuisine with all the wonderful local Ibizan produce.
We kick off with ‘snacks’, first a ‘ham omelette’, a one bite crispy parcel with a liquid truffled centre, one of Martin’s signature dishes, this is followed by toast topped with smoked sardine, a roasted pepper and blobs of avocado mousse. Next up marinated mussels with a garlic butter emulsion. Each dish is presented beautifully, a real visual pleasure before you get to the physical one.
A second step on the journey is Tempura hake with an amontillado and caviar mayonnaise. Of course being British I am tempted to dismiss this as highly elevated chip shop fish, but the taste was incredible, the batter impossibly light and the caviar a salty hit. I do not ask for any Sarsons.
Bread arrives, with a selection of olive oils and butters. My meal nearly ends at this point as I bite down on a stone that’s still in the olive bread with a crack like a gunshot. After a bit I come to the conclusion that it is the stone that has fragmented, not my right molar. A close thing though.
Chili foam on Ibizan lemon fish in a cucumber and watercress mayonnaise is beautifully refreshing and is followed by what is to be my favourite dish of the night, a langoustine carpaccio on a textured fennel emulsion. The aniseed notes of fennel bring out the langoustine’s sweetness.
Roast wild sea bass is sauced at table, served on a bed of seaweed (local too) and scallops, A cauliflower ‘couscous’ is grainy and tender at the same time, melting into the sauce.
Time has passed very agreeably, the dishes coming out with impeccable timing and Martin himself now comes out, with head chef Paco Budía, to take a bow before disappearing into the kitchen to prepare the last main dish, suckling lamb in gravy with wild mushrooms and an Italian garlic sauce called Black agliata. It is just the right amount of meat to end the savouries without ending our appetites.
Desserts are creative, colourful and fun. One features a celery sorbet with a ‘carrot’, there is creamed mango with coffee butter and a final triumphant trilogy of lemon sponge, profiteroles and a mini raspberry and cocoa truffle.
Tonight Martin himself is in the kitchen, and so he now pops out to be applauded and to make his ‘famous’ raised fist salute for all the selfies. I’d have a selfie with him myself, but the combined effects of the food and champagne pin me to my seat. Instead I cheer as best as I can. He deserves it.
It’s so very nice not to have to travel home, I finally wander out onto the restaurant terrace and enjoy the warm breeze and the soothing sound of the sea, before heading up to bed. There are stars above, and a big star below.
Etxeko in BLESS Hotel, Av. Cala Nova, s/n, 07849 es Canar, Illes Balears, Spain