Although I am 95 per cent vegetarian when I eat at home, I have no hang-ups when meat is on the table. I eat roast leg of lamb twice a year and if I do the restaurant review at a place specialising in chargrilled red meats, then I gladly share the 1.2-kilo beef chop known as the chuletón.
I didn’t have a chuletón last year but we had a couple of hefty entrecôtes on the table at different meals and thoroughly enjoyed them. And when I passed La Bodeguita del Centro last week and glanced at the €15.90 menú del día I immediately realised I was looking at the best steak meal in town.
Maribel Moll, the cook-owner, changes her menú del día twice a week and for the fist half of this week the starters were cream of pumpkin soup, spinach and cheese quiche and meat-filled canelones.
The mains were salmon with dill and coconut sauce, a veggie frito with a poached egg, steak tartare and an entrecôte. It was the steak dishes that caught my eye and I realised at once that if two had steak for the mains then they could be sharing two really fine steak dishes for €15.90 (plus an extra €3 for the entrecôte).
That made it a tremendously good buy: quiche and canelones as a starter, sharing a tartare and then an entrecôte — followed by one of Maribel’s superb homemade desserts, or a coffee if we were feeling a little full.
It turned out to be more of a bargain than I expected. At other places, the steak tartare alone would have been more than the €15.90 cost of the menú del día. The usual price, at the bottom end of the market, is €17-€19. And from past experience I know it wouldn’t be as superb as Maribel’s.
But the entrecôte was the main surprise — as you can see in the picture, it was uncommonly large for a menú del día steak. Even with a €3 surcharge this is a huge piece of meat and a true bargain.
My first I thought was that as Maribel knows me she had picked out the biggest entrecôte, a normal kind of thing to do. When I later asked her about the weight of the entrecôtes she said she asked for them to be 250grs. Her generosity astounded me.
I think she thought I found that weight hard to believe (and I did) so she brought out a tray of entrecôtes, put one on a small digital scale — and it weighed in at 273grs. If you’ve heard of a better steak meal than this, let me know.
Ever since Le Bistrot in Calle Caro closed many years ago, La Bodeguita has been Palma’s best bistro: it has an aura that’s pure French although no effort is made to pass it off as Parisian. But it is. And especially when you’re eating bistro type dishes such as steak tartare or an underdone entrecôte as only the French can do them. And it’s not just the steaks and the quiche and other French dishes — there’s also the french fries. I don’t know of a single restaurant that does them better than Maribel. She has learned that great steaks need great french fries — and that’s what we get. It makes such a difference. And La Bodeguita is one of the few places where I always have dessert, especially when it’s something Maribel bakes, such as apple tart, carrot cake or mini tarte tatin.
La Bodeguita del Centro, Calle Carmen 14, Palma (off La Rambla). Tel:971-495259). Closed on Sundays. If you get there early you should have no difficulty in finding a table, but it’s best to play safe and book on any day of the week. One menu runs from Monday to Wednesday and the other from Thursday to Saturday.
The menú del día is €15.90 — an increase of €1 over the 2018 price. With a €3 surcharge for the entrecôte, the bill for two came to €34.80. There was a bowl of french fries with the entrecôte and we had one caña each, although it could have been a glass of wine.