I read recently that Carl Cox is ranked 16th in the "Worlds Best DJs". This little fact came back to me as I stood in front of his decks at Sands Restaurant and Beach Bar (he co-owns the restaurant, alongside Jason Bull of the Adult Only Es Vive hotel in Figueretas) on Ibiza's longest beach, Playa d'en Bossa. Like many, many island residents (and many thousands of island visitors) I'd seen Carl play these decks live.
It is a truly beautiful setting. The restaurant bar fronts right on to the light golden, soft sands of Playa d'en Bossa, the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean almost turquoise as the sun shimmers on the surface. Just a short stroll from Ibiza Town and indeed right on the doorstep of many of Ibizas popular hotels (including Ushuaia), my companion and I tried to work out if it was the closest quality restaurant to the super-club, Space (another of Carl Cox's haunts)
Despite the sheer luxury of the setting - did I mention Sands huge white sunbeds? - my focus for the day was right under my nose. You see, whilst Sands is famed for their amazing beach parties, people were also talking seriously about the cuisine.
It was a rare day when Ibiza was almost too hot. The temperature sitting around 41 degrees centigrade. I arrived, ducking into the cooling shade of the open-sided venue. Moments later my guest arrived and we sat as drinks were ordered, enjoying the view. The menu was simple but well-considered (5 starters, 4 salads, 7 mains) There were no vegetarian dishes on offer but a quick check with the kitchen and we were assured a vegetarian dish could be served without issue. In fact the kitchen would cater for all requirements, including gluten free requests.
We elected to share the lightly battered squid starter as the staff advised portions were big - and quite right they were too. The squid was superb and yes, such was the size of the serving that we struggled to finish it! The freshness of the dish was beyond question. Whilst neither a predominantly Spanish nor seafood menu, the kitchen had incorporated the best the island has to offer within the lunch menu.
Relaxing with a glass of house wine (perfectly chosen for the weather and setting), my home-made beefburger with chips arrived, as did my guests order of the Chicken and Mango salad. Again, both were sizeable portions, my guest initially taken aback at the sweetness of the salad but tucking in enthusiastically. The burger was superb. I couldn't tell you what was added to it, but it was definitely unique and worked well.
I was so full, the day so hot that I didn't have heart for a dessert but such are the requirements of the job... so we spoke with Ronda, the Manager and asked for her guidance. She recommended the homemade American cheesecake and Pineapple Satay with Coconut ice-cream. Really? The recommendation was perfect and despite myself, I polished off the cheesecake effortlessly, laughing with my guest at my gluttony but it was that good, as too was the Pineapple satay.
Chef Luciano popped out to say hello and we were delighted to be able to extend our thanks for a perfect lunch on a day when appetites were thoroughly impeded by the heat.
Shortly afterwards my guest departed but such was the aforementioned high temperature, that I decided to stay put for a little while. Almost a third of the space in the restaurant is given over to a chill-out area of comfortable sofas and I moved across to them, beside the small clothes and jewellery boutique. Around me, others came in, stopping for a refreshing cocktail, some escaping the sun and tucking up to read their Kindles or tap away on a laptop (wi-fi is supplied free).
Perhaps because of what I had heard previously I had expected a certain stuffiness to Sands but found instead that it was the perfect mix of quality meeting Ibiza chic and chill, the staff throughout were personable, professional and relaxed.
A three course lunch per person, not including drinks, is going to average 45-50 euros. This isn't cheap but you get what you pay for - good quality food, excellent service and a location to die for (not to mention an odd celebrity or two smiling at you as they pop in, stopping for a cocktail and chat with friends on the sofas)
Look out for their "Chefs on Tour" events as Sands this year has invited some top chefs to join them. Damian Allsop, the world famous Chocolatier joins Sands 17-18th August and having seen the menu, any chocolate fan would kick themselves for missing this!
For more details and reservations: Sands, Playa d'en Bossa, Ibiza.
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The story and images from yesterdays Carnival in Ibiza Town plus where to see it next!