I was with a group of friends from out of town at Bar del Peix - a fish bar, just left from the entrance into the fish hall of Mercat de l´Olivar in Palma. They wanted to try some authentic local food, without going for a sit down meal at lunchtime, and one of them found this suggestion on the internet. Coming to meet them, I realised that this was the same place that another friend was telling me about a while ago, where him and his dad had some “excellent fish” at “normal prices”! These days, in Palma, those two phrases rarely go into the same sentence, so I was super excited to check out the place and judge the food for myself.
The long glass-fronted counter of Bar del Peix was filled with large metal trays bursting with all sorts of fish and seafood, as well as some other local staples, such as frito Mallorquin (tiny cubes of fried liver, potatoes, and green and red peppers, mixed well and seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika). It was nearly 2pm and I was starving, so I ordered three plates: deep fried anchovies, squid rings and frito de marisco (as above, but with seafood instead of liver), plus a basket of baguette slices. The food was excellent, obviously benefiting from the continuous influx of fresh ingredients at the market. It was prepared simply, without any side dishes, sauces or anything else that could distract from its taste. The deep fried anchovies, with a thin flour coating, were perfectly crispy and quite salty. I imagine that in the summer they would go really well with a cold beer. The squid rings were surprisingly soft, lightly coated in batter and served with a quarter of lemon. The frito de marisco was very flavourful. If I was less hungry, it would have made a perfect little snack on its own, or with a couple of slices of fresh crusty baguette. The whole group enjoyed their food so much that we hardly spoke till we made our way through most of our tiny portions of deliciousness. Aside from my own food, I managed to try a few cubes of deep fried cod from one friend´s pot and some frito mallorquin and fried artichoke from another’s. Again, all of those tasted fantastic!
We all opted for water to accompany our food, but there is a selection of local red and white wines, as well as several local and several international beers on offer here.
The atmosphere at Bar del Peix is busy at lunchtime; it is loud and chaotic. The above mentioned waiter and several of his female colleagues are continuously navigating hurried requests from hungry locals and curious tourists. Customers are all trying to grab one of a few high chairs, while ordering their food and shouting across to their friends who might be wondering of in the wrong direction.
Till now, I have not really taken to this local custom of grabbing a quick bite at a market, during lunchtime or while getting groceries, but I have thoroughly enjoyed this experience and I look forward to repeating it as soon as another opportunity presents itself. Considering that most of the generously-filled (and only in name “small”!) plates start at 3.90 euros, and despite the chaos and the noise, this is definitely a better deal that the above mentioned fast food chain! It is certainly more authentic and more entertaining!
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We Always visit this market in Palma . The featured stand is excellent. There’s also a ham stall with tables and stands the Iberia is fantastic. Couple of especial beers . What better way to spend the day. Hey why on earth would you go to a McDonald’s. Or any other formula boil in the bag joint.
We had a great lunch last Summer. The couple next to us had a local octopus dish that looked amazing and we will definitely be having on our next visit.