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Food review: El Carnicero takes grilling meat to heavenly highs

Set in stunning, bohemian gardens El Carnicero takes the grill into divine territory.

Even subconsciously, you may already be familiar with El Carnicero and its glowing claret red logo from the ring road that circles Ibiza Town.

For the curious passerby, the warm glow the frontage emits might be enough to coax you in? Or at least tap an enquiry into an online search engine for further research.

Once inside, the greeting from the reception staff and the alluring charm of the steakhouse's garden seals the deal in convincing you to stay.

El Carnicero specialises in perfectly cooked grill meats, fine wine and enchanting entertainment. As you walk through its large gate and led through what seems to be the Garden of Eden, you instantly feel assured you've arrived at a food lovers' heaven.

The garden terrace is stunning, with bohemian décor and subtle, romantic lighting to accompany a perfect backdrop of chilled music from the DJ. Awash with colour, there's scatter cushions, all manner of exotic flowers, palm trees of all shapes and sizes and hand-carved ornamentation from cultures from around the world.

The ambience is matched in excellence by the service. Our waiter is professional, helpful and very knowledgeable, from explaining our dishes to suggesting the right wine to accompany them.

Non-stop entertainment

Throughout the evening, entertainment flows around the tables, weaving between different groups of diners.

This comes in the form of sultry flamenco dancers, looming stilt walkers, fire-breathing acts and good-time sailors. That's all before your very own table magician will leave you dumbfounded with his sleight of hand tricks and showman-like patter - a beguiling encounter.

Much of the entertainment held our gaze, while others had us scratching our heads, but once the food started to arrive our attention suddenly had tunnel vision. Whilst there is a lot happening at El Carnicero to distract you, the food demands your complete and undivided focus.

The starters

Before the starters arrived, we were questioning whether we were being entertained primarily, with food taking a secondary berth. The starters brought the focus right back to the gastronomic aspect of our visit.

The Sashimi "El Carnicero" – finest fillet steak, topped with a salt and pepper herb crumb and finely sliced potato chips was both succulent and fresh. Meanwhile, the Carpaccio "El Carnicero", made from Chianina (an Italian breed of large white cattle), had a deliciously smoky taste.

Next, the Magret Duck – thinly sliced breast of duck with strips of dehydrated leek, owed a lot to the wonderfully punchy chimichurri sauce that accompanied it. Some chewy, some tender, but all wrapped up in dynamite flavour.

Simplicity at its most effective, finally The Empanada – a humble Argentine pie, with an aromatic spiced meat filling, was a big hit among us despite its relatively unassuming nature.

The main event

Whilst waiting for the mixed grill, our waiter passionately enthused about the wine he had picked for us. A Malbec from the Bianchi vineyard in Argentina. A strong, full-bodied red to complement our meat – and what a choice it was – deep purple, intense aromas, proving the perfect foil. One of the best wines we've had the pleasure of tasting in a long time.

No hard-sell really needed. The bouquet spoke volumes.

As you may not need explaining, El Carnicero translates into English as "The Butcher", so what has wound up on this butcher's block?

El Carnicero had chosen three cuts of meat for us: The tiras de asado (short ribs), entraña (skirt steak) and the bife de chorizo (sirloin).

The black angus short ribs were mouth-wateringly good. Generously streaked with crisp, buttery fat, the meat itself had lots of character, possessing that classic, strong black angus taste.

The black angus skirt steak was another outstanding cut. Not commonly served in Europe, this cut was possibly the highlight of the evening. Beautifully marbled with fat and a wonderfully mature flavour pushed it to the top of our hit list. The Argentine sirloin was classicly executed – beefy, thick-cut, grilled to perfection and perfectly tender.

Honestly, it's very rare to eat such an incredible array of quality meat in a single sitting – capping it with a red wine surely fermented, distilled and bottled by the gods themselves. El Carnicero, well and truly lives up to its name!

Finishing off

Of course, no meal would be complete without a little sweet something to finish.

We enjoyed a delicious cheesecake, decorated with fruits and berries and dessicated chocolate – but never succumbing to being too sweet – a divine offering. We also enjoyed a classic homemade Argentine dessert of pancakes with dulce de leche (caramelised sweetened milk).

Slightly more filling, the baked chocolate mousse dusted with a light layer of powder sugar, filled the last remaining capacity of our stomachs. Having over-indulged, the diagnosis was perhaps not as fatal as death-by-chocolate, but discomfort-by-chocolate? Quite possibly. Do we ever learn?

Whether you are on holiday or a local, El Carnicero represents much more than just a grill restaurant. It's a 360-degree experience not to be missed and we can't wait to be back there again!

Reservations are essential, especially in high season. Please book in advance, as it is very popular. You can book your table here.

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