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Restaurant review: Casa Linda, simple Mediterranean fare with lots of creativity

Radiating charm and intimacy, this restaurant serves up astounding Mediterranean fare with originality and style.

Casa Linda (literally 'beautiful house' in English) is located on an outdoor terrace amid abundant greenery in the gardens of the Boutique Hotel Jardines de Palermo, just outside San José, and it certainly lives up to its name.

The decor is marvellously integrated into the ancient stone wall surroundings. Overall, the restaurant is a dreamlike haven for those seeking somewhere to escape the madding crowd of the white island in high summer. 

You can't see the sunset directly but the colours of the sky in the west form a glowing backdrop to an evening meal here.

Casa Linda can claim an impressive culinary heritage; it's the brainchild of Tomas Abellán - son of the celebrated chef Carles Abellán - who runs Casa Luz in Barcelona, the winner of three Michelin stars, no less. It´s a restaurant where the accent is on showcasing the main ingredient without embellishing it with sauces or condiments that disguise it.  

All evening long, our waitress and, indeed, all the serving staff were professional, approachable, discreet and ever-attentive.

Let the feast commence!

Things started with some signature cocktails and mocktails: the Tomatini cocktail, La Linda, and the Mule. They were all superb, so you may have to sample all three!

Duly quaffed, we decided to order wine to accompany the starters. The waitress suggested a blended wine, a rosé named Misturas and an aromatic, nicely balanced Verdejo. 

First up came a Basque-style gilda, featuring some of the tastiest anchovies we'd ever had, along with some succulent no.2 oysters in a piquant, slightly acidic sauce made using the chilli peppers known as piparras in Spain.

More anchovies ensued, this time the Cantabrian coast´s finest. Served atop special, wafer-thin artisanal focaccia and smoked butter from Barcelona, they were out of this world. 

A classic alioli then arrived with some sourdough bread - the work of famed Ibizan master chef David Reartes. We discovered that it was made with a starter yeast that began life in Italy over 40 years ago! 

What followed was a reinvention of that typical Spanish dish, tuna & potato salad, the Alaskan King crab salad. A gourmet delight! We found the Ibizan bikini - a toasted sandwich comprising good quality truffle, ham and first-class cheese - impossible to resist!

More starters then turned up. They included a raw lemon fish - prepared hamachi-style - in a vinaigrette composed of grated lime, grapes, salt & a touch of mezcal, lending it a lovely smoky flavour.

A tuna tartar appeared, but not how we know it. In this case, three kinds of tomato substituted the tuna. Nico described it as what they call a trampantojo in Spanish, meaning a dish that resembles another. 

And we immediately saw why; the texture and appearance matched the original and even the taste, which sought to emulate tuna through the rich, slightly piquant wasabi sauce that accompanied it. 

Best of all, the tomato dish is prepared by diners themselves in the form of tacos. Using nasturtium leaves - called cappuchina in Spanish - rather than Mexican-style maize dough, each one was fun to make and utterly scrumptious.

Filling and nutritious as the entrees were, we soldiered on with the main, which came directly off the grill.

Like the previous dish, the main - lamb saam - involved us making tacos, this time with Romaine lettuce leaves. Served with a refreshing tzatziki-like yoghurt dressing and pickled cucumber, it was a tender, tantalising triumph of Middle Eastern gastronomy!

Already flagging after what had been a bonanza of culinary pleasures, we urged ourselves on to the final round: desserts! As you can expect by now, Casa Linda had some memorable tricks up its sleeve, here too.

The first to arrive was a masterful reworking of that Catalan staple, chocolate bread. Employing the finest salt and oil, a creamy ganache, sourdough bread ice cream and croutons, it was a masterpiece of creativity.

So, what could possibly best it?

The answer came in the shape of an XXL flan, that is, a creme caramel, like nothing you´ve experienced before. At Casa Linda, they manage to revamp regional dishes such as the everyday creme caramel to produce a dessert that makes you rethink all your preconceptions of traditional cuisine. Quite simply, it's magic!

Casa Linda has several sittings each evening, starting at 20:00 and ending at 23:00. It is closed on Tuesdays.

But don´t take our word for it; go ahead and make a reservation for you and your party to dine on this exceptional fare yourselves.


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