The arroz Tramuntana with the pinenuts

The arroz Tramuntana with the pinenuts.

19-11-2019Andrew Valente

When I go to a restaurant with a vegetarian friend I never have a problem because we have three choices that will provide a meal we’ll both like: Indian, Italian or Chinese.

The best vegetarian food you’ll eat in Palma is at any Indian place, if you eat Italian there’s a huge selection of pizzas and pastas, and any Chinese menu always includes dishes that please the most stringent of vegetarians.

But when I took a visiting vegetarian friend to lunch at the weekend, I shunned all three and opted for a specialist place to see how the other 10 per cent of restaurant diners eat these days.

I asked vegetarian colleagues on Ultima Hora for a few recommendations in central Palma and selected Ecovegetariana, which has been around for many years, so it has a bit of a track record.

It was a Saturday at lunchtime and I didn’t book a table, thinking that by getting there at 2pm we’d easily get seated. We were there are 2pm on the dot and coincided at the door with another couple. We got the last two vacant tables.

The dining room, which is on the large side, was packed with youngish couples, some with children in the 6-12 group. That seemed like a good omen for the meal and we were expecting something rather special. Well, it didn’t happen.

I made it easy for them by ordering two starters we find ad infinitum on menus everywhere: gyozas and samosas. I imagine most vegetarians are well acquainted with them and I expected something at least semi-authentic.

The gyozas were smaller than those at Japanese-Chinese restaurants and although they had the correct shape, the shredded vegetable filling was much too sparse. But the samosas were a complete travesty and didn’t even look like samosas.

They were thin little parcels of folded paste with a minute amount of filling which, like that in the gyozas, didn’t taste of very much. They were deep-fried and nicely crunchy.

A rice dish that was on the menu at €16 was a bit of a con. There was a meagre amount of rice which, as you can see in the picture, contained very little in the way of vegetables. I had taken half a dozen pictures of the rice by the time the waiter came along with the pinenuts.

When the bill came we saw there was a 20 per cent discount because rice dishes are on offer during November. Even at €12.80 this was a ridiculous price for this amount of rice. Next time I eat with a vegetarian friend we’ll go Indian, Italian or Chinese and he’ll love it. And so will I.

The verdict

This is the kind of restaurant that serves up false versions of famous dishes. You can’t announce a samosa and then present a little parcel of deep-fried paste with hardly any filling. The rice dish is on the menu at €16 (although during November there’s a 20 per cent discount on all rice dishes) but even €12.80 is an abusive price for this amount of rice. The cost of the rice ingredients would have been 50-90 centimos — a scandalous profit margin. When I got home I immediately had four slices of Mercadona multi-cereal bread topped with cheese, and a glass of wine. I’ve never had to do that after a restaurant meal.

The place

Restaurante Ecovegetariana, Conde de Barcelona 26, Palma. Tel:971-282562. Open every day for lunch but closed for dinner on Mondays and Sundays. They filled up on a Saturday for lunch, so play safe and book on weekdays as well.

The bill

  • Steamed gyozas, 6 euros
  • Deep-fried samosas, 6 euros
  • Arroz Tramuntana, 12.80 euros
  • Carafe (250mls) wine, 5.25 euros
  • Bottle lager, 3.30 euros

Total cost with VAT: 33.35 euros.

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