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Restaurant review: Shamarkanda's garden of exotic delights

Enter San Juan's portal to the gastronomic world.

Today, Ibiza is an island with a wealth of wonderful restaurants offering flavours from all over the world. Naturally, much of that richness is concentrated in the large towns and coastal resorts, so it can be a bit more challenging searching for varied and creative gastronomy whilst touring the rural and sparsely populated north of the island.

Of course, there are excellent restaurants all over the north, but you need some good insider intel to point you in the right direction to the real gems. Luckily, we are here to help with our advice. GO. TO. SHAMARKANDA.

From the moment you enter this tranquil country location close to the village of San Juan, you will be enchanted by the beauty of the shady gardens, the friendliness of the welcome and the delights in store from the imaginative kitchen.

Dining tables are spread out beneath a canopy of raffia lanterns, while DJs, who are friends of the team and volunteer their time for the privilege of playing in such a nice setting, spin a mellow and eclectic song selection, perfect for the surroundings.

Few other restaurants we have visited in this corner of the island offer so much variety in such a tight and refined menu. With only 10 starters and 6 mains to choose from, it is clear that the chefs at Shamarkanda have honed their recipes over the past 5 or 6 years, perfecting them to satisfy their loyal clients’ tastes.

Shamarkanda’s cuisine is described as ‘Mediterranean fusion’, but that is fast becoming a hackneyed expression that doesn’t really do justice to the spectrum of ingredients on offer here. German cheese, Peruvian herbs, Mexican xnipek and blue tacos, Indian masala, Korean kimchi - you get the picture… This is a real melting pot of world cuisine, lovingly crafted with the best local produce into an exciting and cohesive menu.

Before diving in, it was absolutely essential to check out the globe-trotting cocktail list. It was a tough choice; with Thailand, the Caribbean, Australia, Mexico, and Peru represented, we chose a pair of floral and aromatic delicacies. Bondi Breeze with orange-infused gin, raspberry and Jasmine and a Máncora Pisco sour with lavender-infused pisco, rose syrup, white wine and grapefruit and lime juices were both perfect for a warm summer evening.

The Shamarkanda menu invites you to ‘commence your gastronomic journey’, so we couldn’t wait to discover the destinations the chefs wanted to send us.

Now, on our usual travels, we get to eat our fair share of croquettes in their multiple forms. Shamarkanda’s cheese and kimchi croquettes are proudly regarded as the restaurant’s party piece, and their tasty twist on these Spanish staples was just the right amount of spicy to tantalise our tastebuds.

Shamarkanda’s version of steak tartare includes all the usual ingredients plus mustard, and tarragon, but with confit egg yolks and cubes of hard bizcocho (Spanish sponge cake). 

Next up, a pretty plate of the Peruvian potato classic, causa limeña. This version had been enhanced by the addition of kalamata olives, soya gel and herby huackatay oil. The delicious saltiness of the dried olives sprinkled on top is from another dimension.

Staying in South America, the Shamarkanda ceviche was a work of modern art. With cubes of super-fresh croaker, sweet potato purée and kumquats to add sweetness, it was as good to look at as it was to eat.

Another very popular dish on the card is the plate of plump lamb and aubergine meatballs with crispy strips of dried blue corn, sweet potato purée, and a fragrant but not too spicy tikka masala.

An Atlantic croaker fillet in a beurre blanc sauce with green beans, a parsnip purée and a drizzle of chilli oil.

For dessert, chocolate textures, with carob brownie, salted caramel ganache, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, would normally be enough to arouse any sweet-toothed diner. However…

Contender for the crown of the ultimate summer pudding and possibly the author’s favourite dessert ever is mil flores (1000 flowers). Although not always on the menu, this utterly delightful creation is a special addition to celebrate the annual San Juan fiesta on 23rd June. Including hibiscus, rose, and elderflower infusions with raspberries, blueberries and ice cream beneath strips of transparent violet gel. Absolutely stunning work.

A soft and light Mali Rosé by Loxarel, locally produced in the Penedes region Cataluña, was the wine choice of the night.

When in the north of Ibiza, it’s compulsory to sample the locally produced Can Vidal hierbas ibicencas digestive after a meal. Many aficionados of this popular tipple will attest to its position as one of the island’s finest and its powerful rosemary bouquet is the worthy ending to such a fine meal.

Shamarkanda is Ibizan al fresco dining at its finest. The kitchen team goes the extra distance with the presentation of their colourful and attractive dishes, while the waiting staff who glide between the tables are amongst the most charming and motivated we have met anywhere on the island.

Take your holiday dining to new destinations by reserving a table at this jewel of the north today.

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