The most interesting dishes on the review outing are those that give us plenty to talk about — for good or for bad. Sometimes the main ingredient can be worth a 10 but the dish as a whole rates only 7. That was the case at today’s restaurant.
One of the major faults with today’s so-called creative cooks, especially those who take a traditional Majorcan dish and ‘bring it up to date’, is that they aren’t capable of a little self-criticism.
The dish that was ‘modernised’ in today’s restaurant was the Majorcan classic ‘lengua con alcaparras’, or tongue with capers. It’s a way of using Majorca’s capers, the world’s best, and veal, pork or lamb tongues, relatively cheap items at the butcher’s.
At Tentacions it was on the menu as ‘lengua con alcaparras fritas’, or with fried capers. They were fresh capers whereas in the original recipe the capers have always been pickled in brine or vinegar. Fried fresh capers were something new.
In the traditional recipe the tongue is simmered until very tender but at Tentacions it was vacuum-packed and cooked at a very low temperature for ages. That was also something new.
It was veal tongue and although it was cut thick it was a rather small piece — but it was the most tender and tastiest tongue I have ever eaten. The ultra-low cooking temperature gave it a consistency that could be cut as easily and cleanly as a crème caramel. If there had been nothing on the plate but the slice of tongue I would have given it an immediate 10. But there were other items and they dragged the overall rating down to a mere 7.
The menu said the tongue came with fried capers. But as you can see in the picture, there were two fried capers glaring out like the startled eyes of a wild animal that is alerted by a strange noise. That term ‘with fried capers’ is bad menu writing and possibly a good deal more.
But there was worse to come. The menu said the tongue was served on a bed of Robuchon mashed potatoes. Joël Robuchon is the great French chef who has more Michelin stars than anyone else — 27 at the last count.
When he makes mash he cuts the potatoes to the same size so they cook evenly, and then he puts them through a vegetable mill and beats in 250grs of butter to 500grs of potatoes.
I couldn’t taste any butter in the Tentacions mash and there were tiny gritty bits in it. Who do they think they are kidding by calling their mash Robuchon? At least the tongue was the best ever.
Today’s young creative cooks invariably make the mistake of becoming over enthusiastic of their dishes when it comes to writing the menu. Those customers who have never heard of Joël Robuchon and his unique and incredible mash made with 250grs of butter for every 500grs of potato are not going to be impressed by the Robuchon name on the menu. And those who know Robuchon uses that amazing amount of butter are going to be wondering why they cannot taste any in the Tentacions mash. Why spoil what could have been a marvellous dish? The lentils were very tasty.
Restaurant Tentacions, Carrer Indústria 12, Palma. Tel:871-048668. Closed on Sundays. The dining area isn’t very big and it filled up when we went for lunch on a Saturday. So play safe and book a table, especially on Fridays and Saturdays.
- Lentil stew, €8
- Veal tongue, €14
- 3 cañas, €4.60
Total cost with VAT: 26.60 euros.