All types of nationalities have invested hard-earned (and sometimes soft-earned) money in a wide variety of eateries in central Palma — many of which have been complete flops. It has always surprised me that none of them thought of opening a pukkah English sit-in fish and chip shop.
If it were done properly (that is, not on a shoestring) with a genuine fish fryer’s range and all the other paraphernalia that authenticity requires, I’m sure it would succeed. And for two main reasons: there’s an eager clientele among British residents and there’s also the Spanish — they simply adore batter-fried fish. And chips are another of their favourite nibbles.
I keep hoping Monro Bryce will tell me someone has opened a good chippie somewhere in the Palma area, but it hasn’t happened yet. In the meantime, I’ve found a place that does excellent fish and chips.
It’s a new Italian restaurant that’s called Sa Fusió, a word that means fusion. It gets this name because their menu is a fusion of dishes. And last week it turned out that one of the dishes is fish and chips, a mains on their €11.90 menú del día.
I was immediately interested and went in and asked head waiter Fabio what kind of fish they use. Fabio, who speaks good English with a Vittorio Gassman accent, said he thought it was merluza (hake) and I had visions of those skinny fillets of frozen merluza they sell in supermarkets.
I asked if I could see the merluza and he called through to the kitchen and head cook Alessandro brought out two very fresh fillets of merluza. I asked Alessandro how he did his fish — “English style with a thin batter paste and then dipped in Japanese panko breadcrumbs to give a nice crunchy finish”.
It was all sounding very nice. But I didn’t want a full menú del día, so I asked Fabio if I could have merluza and chips as a single dish and how much would it cost. A main dish on its own was usually €9.50. That seemed like a good price and I booked a table for the next day.
During the short conversation with Fabio and Alessandro I learned that Alessandro is the son of the owner who had worked in New York City for some time and also in London, manly in graphics design.
Alessandro and Fabio have worked together in London restaurants which accounts for their fluency in English and for Alessandro’s ability to turn out a dish or crispy merluza and chips that was so good I had immediate seconds. I’ve never done that before with any dish.
It’s not in the least surprising that an Italian cook did such a good version of English fish and chips: there are four nations that do batter-fried food best of all and one of them is the Italians. And cook Alessandro has the advantage of having worked in London and picked up good deal of British culinary know-how… such as how to do fish and chips. His batter is not made in the 100 per cent English style, but he achieves a thin one that is also extremely crisp thanks to the final coating of Japanese panko breadcrumbs. I thought it was superb and I’ll certainly be going back for more. Apart from anything else, I don’t know of another place in Palma that does fish and chips.
And next time I see Alessandro I’ll have another question. Is steak and kidney pie one of your fusion dishes?
Sa Fusió, Calle Santiago Rusiñol 15, Palma, off Vía Roma and the Clínica Rotger. Tel:871-731770. Closed on Sundays. They do an €11.90 menú del día. The kitchen has a wood-fired oven and they have a good selection of pizzas as well as other Italian specialities. You can have fish and chips as a single dish on any day of the week for lunch or dinner but it is ABSOLUTELY essential to let them know by midday on the day BEFORE you want to eat. Otherwise there will be no fresh fish in the kitchen.
· 2 merluza with chips, 19 euros
· Cod with chips, 9.50 euros
· Two cañas, 5 euros
Total cost with VAT: 33.50 euros.