The village of Llubi, near Inca (central Mallorca) is not a place where you'd expect to find gourmet cooking, so I was delighted to try DaiCa - a restaurant and petit hotel (with just three bedrooms - not viewed) - last Saturday night. I wasn't surprised that it was good, because I knew that owners Cati Pieras and David Ribas had experience of working in restaurants serving Michelin-starred cuisine on the Spanish mainland. Pieras, most recently, was head chef at Es Vi, the restaurant at the five-star Castillo Hotel Son Vida on the outskirts of Palma. This place is the couple's business venture and opened only in spring 2012.
They offer an à la carte menu and a five-course tasting menu (30 euros including VAT, and comprising smaller portions of dishes from the à la carte), as well as daily specials based on market cuisine. The tasting menu changes daily and the à la carte, monthly. For understandable logistical reasons, the tasting menu must be for all diners at any one table. We tried the à la carte for our first visit.
Pieras's creative cuisine reflects her Mallorcan roots and includes popular ingredients used on the island. But her talent is in combining ingredients that one might not have considered would work so well. An example: we both had the dessert of clementines (from the family's finca), served with white chocolate ganache, a coconut crumble, blood orange sorbet and . . . a chanterelle mushroom! Who'd have thought that would work? It was sensational - and just six euros.
Some of the many other highlights:
The delicious crusty sourdough rye bread (from a French bakery) that's finished in-house, and served with the fruity Mallorcan Son Catiu Extra Virgin Coupage olive oil and two types of Flor de Sal (2,50 euros a head).
Excellent choice of Mallorcan wines, ranging from 15-28 euros, as well as a separate special selection (34-111 euros).
Gorgeous starter of warm Balearic octopus with belly pork confit, curly endive and truffle oil, with tiny pieces of crackling scattered over it. The pork was meltingly tender and had been cooked at low temperature for a total of 12 hours (14 euros). The tiny 'crumbs' of crisp crackling were small enough not to feel too naughty . . .
For those who don't want a coffee after a meal, they have a great menu of loose teas and infusions. They bring a compartmentalised box containing samples of each, for the diner to check their aroma before choosing. The tea comes in an infuser with a sand-filled timer appropriate for the tea chosen. It's also accompanied by home-made sweets - in our case a blood orange 'crunchie' and an apricot and lavender marshmallow.
David served us and was a delightful host, explaining the dishes to us as he brought them to the table. For the record, I asked and he does speak English.
The place itself has been tastefully restored, retaining many of the Mallorcan architectural features, such as wooden beams and lintels over doors and windows. Lighting is attractive, and unobtrusive chill-out music was playing in the background. The place includes a separate bar, and an attractive central courtyard, with sail-shades, which would be lovely for alfresco dining.
For a future visit we plan to stay overnight afterwards, so that we can both have wine with our meal. Will report back on the rooms afterwards!
My only (slight) niggle - and this applies to many good restaurants on the island - was having to have my coat over the back of my chair. Do other people also think that seeing chairs draped with coats, scarves etc, detracts from an otherwise attractive decor?
As an indication of price, we each had three courses from the à la carte menu, and shared a bottle of water, and a bottle of Mallorcan 2011 Som des Cavallers white wine (17 euros) from bodega Galmes i Ribot, which came to a total of 97 euros (including VAT). The quality is excellent so, unlike RuiAyres, I didn't think it was very expensive for the quality of the overall experience - although this isn't a dining experience we could afford every Saturday! By having the tasting menu, we'd have paid under 80 euros.
Open for lunch and dinner but closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the moment. This will change in the summer months. David told me they'd be closed for holidays for the first two weeks of February.
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