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Ibiza winter restaurants: Ca'n Pilot Grill House, San Rafael

Located on the main road, smack in the centre of the sleepy village of San Rafael, is the juiciest, most delectable t-bone steak on the island, raves our (ex-vegetarian) reviewer!

Ca'n Pilot is unassumingly located on the main road in the sleepy little village of San Rafael, Ibiza, where even during the height of summer, a perpetual, peaceful serenity can be felt.

A Legend amongst Ibiza Restaurants

Unless that is, you happen to be trying to get a table at Ca'n Pilot, in which case, if you have not made a reservation, be prepared to wait along with the thronging masses. Because, ladies and gentlemen, this is a pearl amongst Ibiza restaurants, seating no less than 136 guests. You may have to fight Valentino Rossi for a table.

Family Tradition

Superbly run by the same family since 1949, owner, Carmen explains that it was the first bar in San Rafael to have a T.V., which the local community would gather around curiously to watch. A restaurant since 1968, Carmen's husband, passionate about good meat, can be found still presiding over Can Pilot's legendary grill. This man has almost 50 years of experience preparing and cooking meat. What he does not know about a good cut of meat could be written on the back of a pork scratching. Oh, and in the summer, all the veg comes from their own kitchen garden.

Meat-Fest!

Carmen and her children, along with other family members, run a remarkably efficient floor. This authentic family run Ibiza restaurant has a reputation amongst the locals for the best grilled meat on the island. This is, admittedly, a bold claim. So of course, Ibiza Spotlight went to investigate!

It's easy to park in San Rafael, with free car-parks to the side of and opposite the restaurant. Disabled access to the restaurant is exemplary, with wheelchair ramp available and fully accessible bathrooms.

Rustic Charm

Stepping inside, the rustic warmth hit me straight away; the dark wood, the smell of grilled meat, hierbas and other indefinably delicious smells emanating temptingly from the kitchen.

What was the most popular dish in the restaurant, I enquired? Without hesitation came the answer. “Chuleton de buey.” That's ox t-bone steak, darlings. 1-1.5 juicy kilos of the stuff. Filleted, seasoned with rock salt and brought raw to your table. You then grill it yourself, according to your preference.

A very Special Occasion

This was rather exciting for me, because as a recently reformed non-vegetarian, it was to be the first time I had eaten ox t-bone steak for 22 years. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a dedicated herbivore most of the time and there were a couple of vegetarian options on the menu, but on exceptional occasions, well... This was definitely one of them.

Asking Carmen for a bottle of house red to accompany our steak. She smiled and leaned forward.
“Our wine list is very good. This is something that is not always found on the island. It's very important to compliment the meat well.”

This was a woman after my own heart. We gazed lovingly together at the impressive looking wine collection and chose, at Carmen's recommendation, a wonderfully dry, elegant red, lightly oaked, peppery and absolutely delectable. “I sold 6 crates of that last week,” she chuckled, clearly delighted to be bringing her joy of good wine to others.

A Feast fit for a King (or Queen)

We began our feast with home-made olives, country bread and a good, strong ali-oli. Delicious, but beware, probably not wise on a first date!

Quickly polishing off my delicious appetizer of smoked tuna carpaccio served with typically Ibicencan fresh toast and a rustic tomato salsa, I enquired how my friend was enjoying her 'sobresada,' a locally produced, spicy sausage. There was a long pause, as she chewed enthusiastically, nodding fervently then muttering “mmm, good, mmm it's good, MMM!”

The Finale

Then finally, the star of the show. Omg. Accompanied by home-made potato chips (that's hand-fried crisps), an absolutely massive amount of gorgeous, raw, t-bone steak arrived. Being effectively a steak virgin and not knowing how best to cook, I accepted my friend's recommendation of medium rare. It was dear readers, unspeakably succulent. This exceptional steak melted in my mouth, juicily, carnivorously magnificent. The finale of cheese pudding topped with a blackberry compote (it's like cheesecake without the base, served in a knickerbocker glory glass) was no less than utterly divine.

We sat in the restaurant and chatted for ages afterwards. Time slipped by easily, in the mellow, flame-lit ambience, quiet chatter and general air of contentedness. Effusive tables of 10, romantic couples and families out with the kids, all happily co-existed, enjoying the warm, rustic ambience and easy familiarity of Ca'n Pilot. Conclusion? Book immediately. It's what 'real' Ibiza is all about.

Quick Facts

What? Ca'n Pilot Grill House

Where? San Rafael, Ibiza

When? Everyday except Wednesday. Lunch 12.00-16.00, Dinner 20.00-00.00. Closed December 22 – Jan 09 for holidays and for the whole of May.

Why? The most amazing steak I have ever tasted in my life.

Disabled facilities? Yes, Exceptionally so.

Veggie Options? Yes, a few.

Cost? Around €40 per head, including wine.

Top Tips? Try the house speciality, chuleton de buey.

Room for improvement? Make it bigger!

To Make a Reservation / More information

To make a reservation, view map etc, please see Ca'n Pilot, San Rafael

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