The cook chargrills some butterflied chicken and rabbit . | Andrew Valente

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Several places on the island do superb meats in the Mallorcan chargrill style and one of the best and most memorable is Can Torrat in Playa de Palma. You have almost certainly heard of them and many readers will have eaten there because the cooks at Can Torrat have been doing their thing for decades.

This year is their 40th anniversary and the chargrill team and the dining area staff are celebrating by doing what they do best — serving up some of the best chargrilled meats on the island.

When I ate there last week I saw some magnificent beef chops, fillet steaks and entrecôtes going to nearby tables and I was tempted to order a piece of chargrilled red meat.

But I finally decided to have what Mallorcans do better than other chargrill experts — butterflied chicken and rabbit, fat quails and the tenderest lamb chops I’ve cut into in the past few years.

My share of the mixed grill.

What I ordered was their special mixed grill consisting of two rabbit thighs, the plumpest butterflied quail I have ever seen, a generous chunk of rump steak and a thick lamb chop — plus a mound of chips with sliced red peppers and a handful of unpeeled cloves of garlic reduced to a beautiful smooth paste.

Poultry is so much more difficult to chargrill than cuts of red meat because the cook has very little margin for error: he either hits the bullseye or the chicken, rabbit, and quail will be dry and tasteless.

That’s mainly because these animals are young and have very little fat — and that means very little juiciness (or none) if the chargrill heat is too high or goes on for too long.
The timing at Can Torrat was millimetric and the rabbit and quail were nicely scorched on the outside and with succulent interiors. It takes experience to get it like that — 40 years of learning and observation.

When eating at a Mallorcan chargrill place you must always try their botifarrones (black puddings) and longaniza (a thin sausage-like sobrasada) because they always taste best when done over glowing ashes.

The botifarrones and the longaniza.

There are two basic kinds of botifarrón: one with a compact filling and the other with a slack filling. The slack ones always have a better texture and taste no matter how they are cooked — and even if they are eaten as they come with some good Majorcan bread.
There’s more to Can Torrat than excellent raw materials, expert cooks and decades of learning how to please their customers — regulars and first-timers.

I did some pictures of the cooks at work on the huge chargrills and I was more in touch with them and the waiters than I usually am. It was obvious they are a very happy team — that is always a good sign.

There was something else I liked very much. When you arrive at the entrance to the dining area there is a landing with a blackboard and details of the pandemic regulations.
But when diners are leaving the blackboard is turned round and they are thanked for their visit. Little details like that turn first-time diners into regulars.

Mallorcan pan moreno straight from the grill

Before you even start your meal at Can Torrat I have an important warning: beware of the Majorcan pan moreno lightly toasted on the chargrill.

It comes with very nice green olives, a more than passable alioli and a very moreish tomato-based dip. It’s all so lovely you’ll end up eating loads of bread…and olives…and alioli…and tomato dip.

The net result is that this isn’t just some bread with a nibble or two — it’s a full blown starter and you have to count it as such. If not, you will end up ordering more food than you can eat.

The olives, alioli and tomato sauce dip.

And if you’re in a group of four, order bread for two — there will be more than enough for the four of you while waiting for your real starter and your grilled meats.

You should order one portion of botifarrones and longaniza (with more bread) as your real starter for two.

Most people eat this dish with a knife and fork (and there’s nothing wrong with doing it exactly like that) but Mallorcan connoisseurs do it another way.

They slit the slackly filled botifarrón lengthways and then scoop out the filling with a fork and spread it on small pieces of bread. They do the same with the longaniza, turning both into a most enjoyable kind of finger food.

If you’re not into finger food, as most male Mallorcans are, then use knife and fork, but be sure to have a small piece of bread with each morsel of botifarrón or longaniza.

Both of these items were top class (they most certainly weren’t bought from the nearest supermarket) and that always adds to one’s enjoyment.

This turned out to be a most filling meal (both of us ate a great deal of the delicious toasted bread) and neither of us could face sharing a dessert or even splitting a caña, as we sometimes do.

The bread is slightly toasted on the chargrill.

While I was taking pictures of the cooks at the two huge chargrills, I saw some red meat being grilled and it looked most inviting.

I am thinking of returning in late May (before it gets too hot) to order a chuletón (standing rib roast chop) and to time how long it takes to get a good overall pink colour. It always helps if your teacher is an expert.

The verdict

Can Torrat celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and it is is one of Majorca’s great success stories. It hasn’t simply been going for 40 years — it has been flourishing and then some for that time. If you take a walk around the premises you can see where they have had to add to the original dining area to take on the hordes of customers who want to enjoy their chargrilled meats.

Unlike some of the other highly successful island eateries, Can Torrat does not have a menu with pages and pages of dishes. It’s a one-sheet affair and its incredible reputation is built mainly on chargrilled meats — but what delights they are. They offer all the superb cuts of red meat but also excel at poultry of all kinds. And its poultry on a very special scale: I have never seen such large thighs on rabbits, or quail with such plump breasts— and it all tastes so lovely. That is mainly because the cooks know exactly how long to grill their poultry so it is at its juiciest best.

The bread lightly toasted over the chargrill is a delight and when served with olives, alioli and a tomato sauce dip it’s a bargain at €2.80 per head. The caña is a bit expensive at €3.20 but everything else is reasonably priced. You don’t flourish for 40 years unless you’re giving the customers a really worthwhile deal.

The place

Parrilla Can Torrat, Camino Las Maravillas, Salida 11, Playa de Palma. Tel:971-262055. Open every day for lunch and dinner. Although the dining space is large, this place has such a long list of regulars that it fills up easily, so it’s always best to reserve a table.

When going along the motorway, take the Salida 11 turning and you will quickly come to Can Torrat on the right. They have a huge parking area.

The bill

  • Botifarrones and longaniza, €7.60
  • Special mixed grill, €24.50
  • Bread, alioli, olives, tomato dip €5.60
  • Two cañas, €6.40

Total cost with VAT: €44.10