Ibiza is blessed with a plethora of stunning eateries, all delivering a unique experience as well as food to die for. On an island more famous for it’s four four beats, the rise of the restaurant has been extraordinary in recent years, with many of the world’s top restauranteurs choosing Ibiza as a destination for their concept. There are, however, a small collection of Ibiza restaurants that have provided a constant throughout the years and El Clodenis in San Rafael is one of these, a true Ibiza legend in every sense of the world. The stunning traditional venue in the heart of San Rafael, yards from the entrance to the church, has delivered quality food to its loyal customers for 25 years and tonight, we have been invited along to experience the magic for ourselves.
The entrance to El Clodenis is subtle and leads into a small garden area where there are olive trees over one hundred years old. The history is the first thing that makes an impression; this is a venue that could tell a few tales if the alls could speak! The main garden area is at the other side of the old building but it is closed until next season now and we choose to sit inside the old restaurant. The stone walls and original floors point to the character of the venue and the décor compliments them perfectly, adding some subtle touches of glamour, the restaurant is bursting with good taste. I can’t wait to get a look at the menu!
In keeping with the general feel of El Codenis the menu is a large chalkboard sitting on an easel, shiny laminated menus just wouldn’t fit in, this is traditional dining in every sense of the word. French inspiration with Ibiza flavours is how it describes itself and while we contemplate the variety on offer we opt for a crisp rosado from Provence. For starters Nic is tempted by the classic French Bouilla Baisse, Charlie heads straight for the warm goats cheese salad while I decide on the chef’s country Paté, a dish that owner David tells me has been on the menu as long as there has been one. When it arrives, I understand why, the flavour is bursting out of the paté and the toasted bread is the perfect companion. Nic gets instructions from David on the best way to eat the bouilla baisse, covering the toasted bread fingers in tangy salsa and floating them in the soup.
In between courses I go for a wander around the old finca, there are several parts to the restaurant, offering different dining experiences. We have an uncanny ability at Essentialibiza that wherever we are we usually bump into our old friend Jerome Ferriere and as I wander through the restaurant, his photographs hang on the walls. When I get back to our table we’ve added another guest, you guessed it, Monsieur Ferriere, just in time for the arrival of the main course. I seem to have a knack for the traditional as my choice of free range chicken with sweet garlic is another menu classic, Nic opts for the salmon with sesame seed crust and vegetables while Charlie opts for the boneless slow roasted lamb shoulder. All the dishes are well presented but not in an overly fancy way, the focus in this establishment is not on how pretty the plates look but how amazing the dishes taste and speaking for the free range chicken, it is fantastique!
David jokes that they are closing soon and all the wine has to be drunk, not the thing to tell a table with Charlie and Jerome sitting at it, as he deliver yet another bottle of Domaine Ott Chateau de Selle to our table just before the desserts arrive. There is a fascinating story behind the old restaurant and one we look forward to telling you in the future as we sit David down for an essential focus interview, but for now, lets just say, it’s an amazing place to enjoy a meal. The sense of history which I have mentioned already, coupled with the warm friendly welcome and service makes for the perfect last impressions of the island before I return to the mild winter of the UK the following day! To finish off the stunning meal I’ve gone for the warm melt-away brownie with strawberry chutney and vanilla ice cream, Charlie goes for the home made sherbet of the vodka variety and Nic goes French with the crepes suzette with Grand Marnier, which David applies but not before lighting. It’s the perfect end to a thoroughly enjoyable evening, good banter with great friends in an amazing location, looked after by genuinely friendly people and as good a meal as we have tasted all season. Legendary status can all too often be given and not earned but with 25 years of this type of service under its belt, El Codenis is every bit the Ibiza legend that it is made out to be.
EL CLODENIS RESERVATIONS/ INFO
El Clodenis is open all-year!
November to March: Open Wednesday to Saturday
April to June: Open Monday to Saturday
June to October: Open daily
Hours of Service
Dinner: 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Restaurant El Clodenis
Plaza de la Iglesia
07816 San Rafael – Ibiza
t: 00 34 971 198 545