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Food Review: El Silencio sends waves of culinary pleasure

Beachside dining worth shouting about.

Driving down the small winding road that brings you to the beautiful Cala Moli, excitement was rising about the food we would be tasting this evening. We’d read about the collaboration between chefs Mauro Colagreco and Federico Desseno, both highly regarded cooks, with a shared passion for cooking over wood on an open fire.

We could smell a hint of the wood smoke from the kitchen as we parked outside El Silencio.

Entering via the beautiful pool area, we passed the open kitchen where the chefs were already busy lighting the wood grill and preparing for service. We were immediately greeted by one of the restaurant management team who ushered us to our table at the front of the restaurant.

El Silencio restaurant is positioned to the right of a small but very picturesque beach. An impressive structure for a feet-in-the-sand ‘chiringuito’, although constructed from wood and natural materials, it has a feeling of meticulous elegance. The height of the building gives it a real sense of grandeur and beautiful grass blinds hanging from the ceiling are ready to drop to shade you when the intensity of the sun demands.

Alejandro, our waiter for the evening, approached and introduced himself, proffering appetisers and drinks to keep us going while we perused the menu. Freshly baked flatbreads soon arrived, dotted with rosemary and glistening with olive oil, accompanied by thick cut, but amazingly succulent, Iberico ham.

El Silencio’s menu is broken down into sections Crudo del Mar (raw seafood), Ensaladas (salads), Horno de Barro (clay oven), Brasas (grills), Pescados (fish), Carnes (meat) and Postres (desserts). After much discussion, we settled for Shrimp Aguachile, Tiraditos de Lubina and Oysters from the raw selection, a Burrata salad, baked aubergine from the oven, Carabineros from the grill and the turbot to share. We wisely decided to leave something from the meat section for another day!

Opting for a refreshing bottle of Conreria d´Scala Dei Les Brugueres, Priorat white wine to pair with our largely seafood selection, we sat back happy in the knowledge that the difficult part of choosing was over and now we could look forward to the tasting.

We gleefully gulped down our fresh oysters – the beautifully plump molluscs were enhanced by the interesting addition of a celery and melon dressing.

The Mexican dish Aguachile, shrimps mixed with a dressing of chilli, lime juice, coriander and onion, was nicely balanced and light and not too citrusy like many ceviches. The slices of cucumber added freshness to the dish.

Peruvian-inspired, Tiraditos was a particular favourite. The sea bass must have been caught that day it was so fresh, producing soft and translucent slices of seafood heaven, sitting atop an aji amarillo sauce (yellow chilli). Pomegranate seeds and a sprinkling of toasted quinoa added a touch of texture that elevated this dish to something very special. Wow, what a start to the meal!

Even the salad course kept things going on a high. It is hard to believe that an innocent ball of cheese can be so good. Burrata, is one of the kings of Italian cheeses. It can be amazing when it’s good, and the El Silencio burrata is just that. Pliable and stringy, this rich dairy globe was a perfect match for the candied tomatoes and figs. Don’t miss this treat when you visit.

Anticipating more Italian cheesy richness, the baked aubergine with ricotta from the clay oven wasn’t heavy at all. It proved to be much lighter than the sum of its parts and perfect for a hot, sultry evening in Ibiza. A delicately flavoured dish, the aubergine and the citrusy ricotta worked in harmony. A touch of kale in there added the hit of iron that baked dishes often need.

Eyes were soon averted as the Carabineros made their entrance. These are the most coveted prawns that the oceans offer to us - renowned for their jumbo size, bright cardinal red colour and robust flavour. They should be simply grilled and at El Silencio they are cooked to perfection - a real treat for any seafood lover. We peeled them carefully and savoured the moment.

Our star main course, Rodaballo (Turbot) cooked over the wood flame, was next to arrive. Fish cookery is a real skill but cooking over a wood flame takes it to another level. This large fillet of Turbot had been cooked on the bone, really helping to retain flavour and moisture, and arrived at the table with a hint of smoke from the grill. The combination of slightly charred skin and the soft, white translucent flesh was a delight. This would have been a very generous main course for one but was happily shared between four with fresh green beans.

As we relaxed and reflected on the excellent food we had enjoyed, the menu reappeared, and the possibility of desserts raised its head. Deciding again to share, we went for the intense and silky chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream, pimped-up strawberries and cream (confit strawberries in lime) and a beautifully wobbly panna cotta delicately flavoured with citrus. The trio was an excellent and fitting ending to a very satisfying meal.

The setting and decor at El Silencio are stunning, however, it's the cooking here that sets it apart from many other beachside chiringuito-style restaurants. Very clever subtle touches and skill and attention to detail show a real passion for cooking, Mauro and Federico take time to source only the very best products and have designed a menu that allows you to eat as you feel on the day.

Such high-end cooking in this setting of course doesn’t come cheap and is maybe not an everyday dining experience for most, but it definitely should be on your list to try. And we're sure that once you've been you’ll be coming back.

As we sat sipping our Hierbas digestive while watching the sun set perfectly between the two headlands, listening to the chilled tunes drifting over the beach, we were already making our plans to return.

Reserve your own special sunset dinner now.

Words: Phil Wise

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