Tranquil Dining At Boutique Hostal Salinas

Posted on June 3, 2017

Images: Tamara Sini

Nestled in the heart of Ibiza’s only nature reserve is Boutique Hostal Salinas, a much-welcomed oasis and antidote to the fast-paced island. In addition to its already revered hotel and event space, the venue boasts a unique, relaxed and authentic Balearic restaurant. We went to check it out during a relaxed dinner with friends.

The Boutique Hostal Salinas appeals to an easygoing clientele – not least because it is perfectly situated for people who’ve spent a long day on the beach of Ses Salinas, and are looking for a refreshing cocktail or a bite to eat. The overall ambience is laid-back and breezy, a casual and cool place you would go for an intimate dinner with friends to share good food, good wine and good conversation.

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Before we sat down to dinner, we were offered a drink. The house rosé was crisp, dry and ice cold – perfect for the light, fresh seafood dinner we were about to devour. We started chatting to a couple at the bar who were staying in the hotel upstairs and mentioned that we would be eating – without skipping a beat, they implored us to try the cod croquettes. (Sadly, we didn’t get around to trying them – seems like as good a cause as any for another visit!) The first course was a sea bass ceviche, which was presented classically in an elegant glass. As well as the usual fish, tomato, avocado and coriander, there were chunks of melon which added a welcomed sweetness to the dish. The fish was tender and the dish overall was super fresh and light – the perfect start to a sunny, simple Balearic meal. Next came humus casero, with black bread and crudités. One member of the Essential Ibiza team claimed it was the best hummus he had ever had – and we all, in fact, agreed. It was rich, creamy and not too oily, and the addition of smoked paprika added an interesting dimension to the flavours.

BHS dinner
BHS dinner

The third and final entrée were perfectly fluffy pitta breads loaded with spiced falafel and raita. The pittas were crammed with crisp, fresh salad which really offset the carb-loaded offering, and the dish was served with a side of hot chilli paste, adding the perfect amount of heat and kick. After we were done with our starters, we took a short breather to soak up the ambience of the restaurant and fully appreciate our surroundings. The owners explained to us that sometimes the dining area would be full, and other nights there are fewer visitors. We visited on a seemingly quiet night, but the experience was no less ambient for it – there was a low but constant buzz of activity in the idyllic setting, and the hotel guests propping up the bar all seemed to be having a brilliant time.

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As a solution to the high-low nature of demand, the kitchen buys their food to order – something that really comes through in the freshness of the dishes and the creativity of the flavour combinations: it feels like a menu that has a lot of thought put into it on a regular basis. When we sat back down for our main courses, we were told that some of the food would be cooked on the grill outside. Our host proceeded to lead us to a ‘fire bowl’; a naked flame in the middle, and a lip around the edge of the grill where food is perched and delicately smoked. The chef placed large gamberonis seasoned with rock salt and fillets of sea bass laden with rosemary and seasoning, and set to work ensuring they were smoked to perfection. Just before they were finished, he flambéed the seafood with a potent combination of white wine and cognac. Although this added to the theatrics of the evening, that wasn’t his reasoning behind it – the alcohol added an amazing additional flavour and dimension to the dish.

BHS dinner
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We were led back to our table, where along with the prawns and seabass, we were presented with a plate of octopus with a potato salad on the side. It was all perfection – deliciously seasoned and salty, and cooked just the right amount. The whole meal felt fresh, light and healthy, and did not leave us feeling too full or overindulged – simply satisfied and content. It was time for the final course. As we tucked into our dessert – an elaborate pineapple tatin rolled in homemade pastry, topped with caramel and pistachio ice cream with sugared citrus almonds on the side – our host came to sit with us to discuss our food and how we had found the evening.

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After telling him how delighted we were with the food, wine and service, we were keen to hear the inspiration behind the menu. Our host explained to us that he employs two chefs and one is vegetarian (which you can tell has a steer on the menu, although meat and fish is served). One of our party commented that, although they would not normally order vegetarian meals at a restaurant, the meat-free things that we had eaten had turned out to be their favourite. The other chef was from the Spanish foodie district of Galicia, something that our host seemed particularly proud of. Galician food is notoriously high quality – and Galician chefs are trained meticulously to recognise that quality. BHS’ beef spends 12 months on the field and is hung when it arrives in the kitchen, the seafood is locally sourced and farmed.

BHS dinner
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BHS dinner

The restaurants’ grill is quite clearly their pride and joy – referred to by the host as a ‘bar-be-blanche’. With some controversy over charcoal BBQs growing, the fire pit is apparently a cleaner, purer and healthier way to grill meat and fish. We were informed that the first fire pit of this nature was discovered many years ago, and has been subtly integrated into Spanish cooking. Although it creates authentic and traditional flavours, it is quite a rarity in itself – there are only five on the whole island. Boutique Hostal Salinas also offers a service whereby the grill can be rented out to private parties. The chef will take food requests and go out and buy the meat and fish specifically to the guests’ tastes. On arrival, guests can opt to watch the chef cook their food in front of them or choose to get involved and learn to do it themselves. Situated right in the heart of the only nature reserve on the island, Boutique Hostal Salinas is perhaps a little under the radar at the moment. But with it’s traditional cooking, simple menus and welcoming atmosphere, it surely won’t be for long.

Information & Reservations:
t: +34 971 308 899
w: www.boutiquehostalsalinas.com

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