The delicious grilled lamb kidneys at Casa Maruka. | Andrew Valente


The year of the coronavirus was a horrendous time for everyone and restaurant owners suffered even more than other small businesses. The structure of the restaurant trade is such that owners must have customers coming in every day.

As soon as the flow of customers stops, even up-market places are in trouble. The coronavirus hit Michelin star places before the others because they rely very much on the influx of tourists to keep their books balanced — and suddenly there were no tourists.
It was a nightmare for most restaurant owners and some had to close down: overheads were too high to keep the business going without any money coming in and closure was the only option. Just in the centre of Palma, some very good places shut down.

When restaurants reopened on May 28 the owners and cooks came back fighting and ready to face up to scenario that will never be the same as it was before the coronavirus upset everything and in every part of the world.

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Covid-19 is still with us — in some places worse than during the first outbreak — and restaurants have been badly affected again and only those with terraces can function — and for very restricted and truncated opening times. It’s still a very black scene. We’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed that life will start to come back to normal in 2021.
Even so, before and after the coronavirus lockdown we ate well at restaurants all over town and cooks were still producing some superb 10-rated dishes.

1 Spot

There are a few restaurants where everything falls neatly into place and I end up giving 10-ratings to aspects of the meal that have nothing to do with what was on the plate. This was the case at Spot in Plaza Verge del Miracle 3, Santa Catalina (Tel:971-658603) where a 10 went to the interior designers who have done a stunning job on this high-ceilinged space. We had their €15.50 menú del día and the first 10 for food was for a dish of roasted unpeeled wedges of pumpkin, the highlight of which was the thin and crisp skins. There was another 10 for pita bread with a soft inside and crispy exterior and creamy cheese filling. The third 10 went to their baked apple which was perfect in every way — including the skin. When we finished it, there was only a 2cm piece of stalk left on the plate.

2 Gastrobar Saratoga

A good place for a light lunch when shopping or doing other business in the centre of Palma is the Gastrobar Saratoga in Paseo Mallorca 6 (Tel:971-7272340-Ext. 257). They have a good selection of tapas at reasonable prices that aren’t available at the Hotel Saratoga’s restaurant on the top floor. Two tostas were splendid, one with a pork fillet topping and the other with brie cheese. Great value for money. A dish of beautifully cleaned gambas al ajillo were done and served in a cast iron pan. They were perfectly fried, were terse and tasty and were awarded an immediate 10 rating.

Over the next few days we will post all 32 restaurants so watch this space.