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Food review: Finca La Plaza, Santa Gertrudis, Ibiza

Charming, rustic restaurant, serving excellent Mediterranean food and with its own secret garden.

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Why should I go? For old-school charm with a secret garden feel

What kind of food is it? Mediterranean Spanish with touches of Italian

What diets does it cater for? There's meat and fish and the many vegetable-based dishes are vegetarian. Look for the chef's special selections, indicated by the little red symbols on the menu.

Ibiza Spotlight tip. When you book, ask for a table with one of the capacious and comfy conical-rooofed bamboo chairs.


The venue

Wandering past the church square of Santa Gertrudis, one would almost miss, yet not fail to notice the charming old finca, or farmhouse that is Finca La Plaza. An old low-level wooden gate is where you will enter into a rustic world of charm and straight into the restaurant's garden, a secret walled terrain.

Outside it's bamboo chairs, reclaimed, polished wood for tables with trees, plants, hanging vines and several bamboo seats that almost look like beehives and which the inner child in me just had to try out. On the walls, you'll see prettily coloured exposed stone and terracotta tiling giving you the real air of a farmhouse, certainly a idealised version of one.

Inside, Juniper wood beams on the ceiling, a bar made of bamboo and soft incandescent lighting, combine to create a honeyed glow around the interior.

The ambience

With a mix of people from all over, the clientele was on our night very cosmopolitan. Still, it did feel like a typical Mediterranean scene of people talking, sharing food and laughter and generally appreciating life. With great staff who know what they are talking about - their wine selections for me were spot on each time - you can sit back in the knowledge that all will be taken care of with ease and discretion. And so it was.

This restaurant never stops feeling like an old farmhouse and apart from the waiters passing by with food and drink, one would hardly know. It feels like home.

The food

Tomatoes of every hue

At this restaurant, you'll find many typical dishes that feature on restaurant menus in the Spanish Mediterranean. Like any food “classics”, it's all about the execution and the restaurant's own touch. On close inspection, you'll soon see some very clever combinations of flavours and ingredients; here you see the traditioal inspiration for the dishes, though the food has developed a distinct personality all of its own.

Finca La Plaza's menu is divided into small plates, which are starter size, though could be eaten as described; salads and starters make up the next list and finally, the more hearty items are regular mains and those cooked in the restaurant's charcoal oven. A great selection of side dishes are also available.

Bread you'll want to marry

We perused the menu as a wooden platter of bread olives and alioli came to help us decide. I love good bread: I dream of it actually and this was a romance that became serious after the first kiss. For many, the bread is the hallmark of a good eatery and if this farinaceous phenomenon was anything to go by, a great dinner was about to be served.

Squid as pure as the driven snow

Typically, on a review, we share starters and so we did here, dividing up the first of them, a tart and sweet tomato salad that contained all known grown tomatoes on Ibiza. It was on point and delicious with the surprising addition of fried capers. You can fry them? A cured jamón topped squid was a vibrant white with fine black strips from the charcoal grill. Whilst squid isn't usually a personal favourite, this one had me really sold.

Absolutely artichokes - take advantage of their abundance in Spain

Artichokes really are my thing and had to be part of this evening's formula. In southern Europe they grow in abundance, featuring regularly on menus. The trick, as Finca La Plaza apparently knows well, is not to over do them. Ours came grilled, with Ibizan lemons and spinach, then flavoured with mint and rosemary. Gorgeous! No surprise that this dish is one of the chef's specialties.

Octopus with a soft tender inside and crunchy on the outside

For mains, we had a dish each, with the proviso that we could pick a little from the others' plates. Many foods are made better by being cooked using charcoal. We chose two dishes that love it: a plate of octopus, that was crunchy on the outside yet beautifully tender on the insid. It came served with a confit of kumquat sauce, adding that perfect touch of sour, to balance the sweetness of the marine flesh.

Lamb cooked in the charcoal oven

A taste of carbon is ideal for lamb chops too, another dish from the charcoal grill selection. Served on wood, like the tentacled mollusc, these slices of meat on the bone were juicy and meaty with minimal fat: an old favourite restored to new glories. A fresh ravioli with burrata cheese, courgette, mint and tomato was light and summery. Finally we had an excellent beef tartare, served unusually with chips or “hand cut fries” as sold here. I love tartare though often go for a warmed main course; however, the addition of the heat of the potato meant this combination would now be making its way into my dining repertoire.

With such a big quantity of food, dessert was only whispering our names, so we shared a “Gianduja” hazelnut mousse, topped with an ice-cream made of the same nut. It was the ideal, compact and sweet finish. Sweet indeed, as is this charming restaurant

You'll love the creative food at Finca La Plaza; you'll also get the feeling that just for the night, a beautiful slice of the world belongs just to you.


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