[Pollenca, Mallorca, Spain] Clivia

We’ve never had a bad meal at Clivia. And this one was no exception. The menu is modern but still retains its links with Spanish culinary traditions of taking good ingredients and doing very little with them. As soon as we’d decided to eat there (and that was pretty much as soon as we’d decided to visit Pollensa), my companion in life had decided on a starter. That’s the prawns from the bay of Soller. It’s simplicity itself – just shell-on prawns cooked on the plancha and served “as is”. They really are delicious.

The other starter was a bit of a gamble. Scallops in a coriander and lime broth. I’d had the broth with a main course hake last year and, whilst it was OK, it was just too muted in flavour for the fish. I hoped they’d tweaked the recipe. They hadn’t but it worked much better with the more delicate scallops which were cooked so the centres were still slightly opaque… It’s a skill to get the charring on the outside and the perfect “almost raw” in the middle.

John Dory was filleted by the waiter. A generous portion, with crispy skin, again perfectly cooked with no hint of mushiness. It came with shreds of mixed vegetable – prepared either by some kitchen gizmo or a very skilled hand – and then fried so that they retained texture and distinct flavours. The same veg accompanied a tuna kebab. Cubes of fish, cooked so there was a degree of searing on the outside, but the middle stayed raw. They were coated in crushed almonds which contrasted nicely with the soft, almost squidgy, fish. There was a dab or two of a pleasant, if indeterminate, sauce. It seemed as though they were trying for a Spanish version of an east asian preparation where the tuna might be coated in sesame seeds. And, if so, then it was a success.

Desserts are something we don’t order too often but we know them to be good here. Crema Catalana was as good an example as you’ll want to come across – creamy custard, good crisp sugary topping. Orange pannacotta tasted good, although it was overset with no sign of a wobble. A topping of diced mango worked surprisingly well. And there was excellent coffee to finish.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold