Up until about the 1970s, most people’s conception of a French bistro were the little restaurants in the Paris ‘quartiers’ such as Montparnasse and Les Halles, run by a husband and wife team, one in the kitchen and the other in the dining room. In Mallorca over the past 60 years (and up until today) we’ve had places calling themselves bistros but only a few were worthy of that name: there was nothing authentic about the others.
On the other hand there were (and are) restaurants very much in the bistro tradition although neither the owners or anyone else called them bistros…except, perhaps, me.
One of these is La Bodeguita del Centro in Calle Carmen off La Rambla (Tel:971-495259) where Maribel Moll is in her narrow open kitchen on her own and turning out some marvellous bistro-type food. But she doesn’t call Bodeguita a bistro…although I do.
But perhaps our finest example of a bistro-style place is Siduri, which functions as a very busy cafe doing breakfasts from 8am, as well as a restaurant serving a €17 menú del día.
Siduri is owned by María Jose Mulet and Sergio Covacevich, both doing some of the cooking, although during opening hours Sergio is in the kitchen and María José is out front.
The ambience at Siduri is very bistro: small tables, some regulars eating in vivacious groups, others in quiet corners reading a newspaper, everyone enjoying great food.
As in genuine Paris bistros, the menu keeps changing and María José and Sergio handle an amazing range of culinary styles that takes in all five continents.
The day after I ate there, I dropped by next morning on my way to the office to check on the spelling of Sergio’s surname and I saw the menu had changed completely from the day before.
This was 11 am and the place was thronging with customers having breakfast-type food. I didn’t want to interrupt María José for even half a minute, so I left and returned on my way home before the lunchtime rush started.
Marí José and Sergio live in Inca where they have a house with a ‘huerta’ attached — a large large fruit and veg garden that supplies many of the veggies and fruits they use in the restaurant. They are very Km 0.
Although they believe in healthy eating and provide the right kind of food for those who care about their health and what they eat, they are not trying to push organic food down our throats.
On the two mornings I dropped by, absolutely amazed at the hustle and bustle of the breakfast trade, María José was behind the bar squeezing oranges and liquidising fruit and root veggies for customers who wanted healthy smoothies.
María José and Sergio do a wonderful mix of traditional dishes that are made with meats and veg — and they always have vegetarian options on the menú del día.
Siduri is the kind of restaurant that gives special attention to the desserts — so the meal always comes to a lovely ending. The desserts are 100 per cent homemade and frequently contain fruits grown in their own ‘huerta’.
They also do something I have never found in any other restaurant: a most unusual range of homemade breads. More about that on the next page.
Siduri is one of those restaurants where you will always eat well. That’s because María José Mulet and her husband Sergio Covacevich are in the business not to make money but because they love growing fruit and vegetables and cooking them in recipes chosen from the cuisines of the five continents. Their €17 menú del día is a bit dear for workers who have to eat out from Monday to Friday, but it is great value for money. If I worked in that area I’d be eating at Siduri at least twice a week. There are very few places nearby, or further afield, where the quality-price ratio is so high. If a dish contains lamb, as our fideus de vermar does, then there’s plenty of it. María José and Sergio handle herbs and spices most judiciously, one of the reasons their dishes are so packed with lovely flavours. And then there’s the superb homemade breads they have for eating in the restaurant and for takeaway. I don’t know any restaurant, on the island or anywhere else, that does such a marvellous range of breads. The one I ate, flavoured with turmeric and rosemary spikes, had a magnificent compact texture and a most rustic crust. This is the kind of excellent bread one should find in bakeries…but doesn’t.
Café-Restaurant Siduri, Calle Francesc de Borja Moll 24, Palma. Tel:871-804701. Open for breakfast and lunch from 8.00 to 16.00 hours, Monday to Friday. Siduri can fill up on any day of the week, so you should always reserve a table, or get there very early.
The menú del día costs €17 (which is a great price for what they serve) and the turmeric bread was charged at €3 because I took a whole loaf. I thought the price was somewhat low, but María José said the loaf weighed 600 grs and that made the price €3.