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Food Review: Sa Capella - A triumphant return for a historic classic

San Antonio's crown jewel sparkles brighter than ever

The words ‘iconic’ and ‘legendary’ are often overused on the pages of Ibiza Spotlight and many similar publications. So much so, that we have to place temporary bans on the use of the words! There are of course legitimate occasions when the use is justified, and talking about Sa Capella restaurant on the outskirts of San Antonio is one of them.

One of the author’s favourite Ibiza locations, the unique restaurant housed in an unconsecrated church, has been visited annually since 1998. With such a long history, this wonderfully atmospheric institution has been a key part of the island’s nightlife culture for decades when it originally found fame as a beloved pre-party launchpad for DJs, club owners, famous musicians and TV personalities.

When it closed at the end of the 2022 season, there was an air of uncertainty about what the future held for the famous old edifice. Every advancing year had been taking its toll on the fabric of the building and increasing local competition was adding pressure to an ageing management team.

However, the gloom was suddenly lifted when the welcome news broke that Mambo Group had acquired the restaurant. Javier Anadón and Sons, with the support of their creative and experienced team, were the ideal new custodians of this sacred gastronomic church.

Over recent years, Mambo Group have shown huge respect for the island, its history and its culture, by nurturing and breathing new life into a portfolio of wonderful venues that have become the cornerstone of many peoples’ Ibiza holiday experiences. How many visitors come to the island nowadays without chalking up a pilgrimage to at least one of Café Mambo, Casa Maca, Hostal La Torre, Cala Gracioneta or Villa Mercedes? Each restaurant has a unique character of its own and is typified by quality products and exemplary service.

Now there is a new name to add to that list and Sa Capella represents the largest investment the Group has made into any of its establishments.

Completely refurbished throughout, it has been stripped back to the bare bones and feels the better for it. Very little has been left untouched, but all of the romance is still there…

The original owners of Sa Capella were concerned that certain elements be preserved during the renovation, including the magnificent old carving which remains, standing like a sentry in the raised apse.

Gone are the old, tiled walls and electric fans. In their place, minimalism and atmospheric lighting are key changes and the addition of discreet, air conditioning inside the ancient building gives it a more year-round purpose.

All of the kitchens and bars have been completely refreshed and the open kitchen fireplace remains but now includes a modern oven and Josper grill. We can still enjoy a full view of the tender treatment of the fine cuts of meat being prepared on the fire, while the smokey barbecue aromas fill the air.

To wet our whistles, we dove enthusiastically into the new cocktail list.

Our choices were a sharp and spicy Capella with Patrón Silver tequila, maraschino, grapefruit, rosemary, agave, tajin, and a sweet and aromatic Satiro blended with Maker's Mark whiskey, Amaro Montenegro, mango, bitters, honey, thyme, ginger ale. The Satiro, with a hint of almond, just keeps improving as the ice melts into it.  

Our wine pairing for the night was a trusty bottle of Raimat Turons de la Pleta Chardonnay. An ideal companion for fresh seafood, it is also guaranteed to mix well with any dish presented to us.

Fortunately, much of the old Sa Capella DNA continues to run through the new menu. It is concise, suitably rustic and the premise is simple - great quality produce, made for sharing.

All the big hitters from the old menu are still here: mouth-watering fillet steaks, whole seabass, juicy turbot and tender little lamb chops. Add to that, a range of delicate, yet delicious raw seafood or vegetable starters and the picture is almost complete.

We opted to go down a seafood surprise route for our sharing experience and let the chefs come up with the goods. They did not let us down!

Crunchy homemade sourdough, baked on-site using Sa Capella’s own starter, was perfect for mopping up the flavourful oil marinades of our 3 entrées.

Ibicencan tomato salad with ventresca (tuna belly). Onion, chives, tuna and delicious juicy tomatoes. Simple and stunning.

Carpaccio of Sirvia (Amberjack) These super-tender slivers were marinaded in lime juice, like ceviche with a hint of chilli and coriander, but with a milder treatment.

Boquerones (smoked anchovies) marinaded in vinegar, with just a gentle hint of garlic and herbs.

A jaw-dropping whole grilled squid on a bed of ink and onion confit.

Cauliflower with Parmigiano and truffle. The shavings of truffle were pleasingly discreet, allowing the other ingredients room to breathe.

Whole Seabass. Skillfully filleted beside the table, it would be impossible to prepare and present a fish more perfectly - just succulent white fish and crispy skin.

The essential accompaniment of roasted vegetables and a baked potato completes the perfect rustic meal.

To finish we were treated to a preview of a dessert soon to be added to the full menu - a light and creamy Fig Pavlova with pistachios and a crunchy meringue centre. A genuine seasonal winner!

The new owners of Sa Capella have been so respectful in preserving this wonderful establishment for a golden future. Fully revitalised, it is a project that deserves to succeed. And, with the Mambo connection, it is a certainty that it will once again flourish as the place to be seen by new generations of nightlife’s faces.

If, as promised, it can stay open deep into the winter season, we will definitely be paying homage to the great place once more before the year ends. Book your table here if you would like to discover the magic.

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