Discover the hidden gastronomic excellence of Mallorca's heritage hideaways
We explore an off-season haven with a gastronomic secret
As the evenings draw in and autumn makes its cool entry, it’s easy to forget that much of the continent is still drenched in the golden hues of summer sun. Such is the case in Mallorca, the largest of the Mediterranean’s Balearic Islands, where sublime temperatures stretch well into November. Long-regarded as a European summertime haven for sun-seeking partygoers and young families alike, there is a strong case to be made for visiting the island off-season when the crowds have thinned, yet the sea remains veritably tropical, and its thriving fine-dining scene in full swing.
Fresh from a swift two-hour flight, our Mallorcan adventure began at the Hotel Predi Son Jaumell, perched on the easternmost tip of the island just beyond the mountain-top town of Capdepera. The boutique guesthouse is a 17th-century UNESCO-protected estate nestled within rolling emerald hills, complete with an original stone façade, verdant grounds, and a Michelin-starred restaurant headed up by ex-El Bulli Chef Andreu Genestra, who has helped to put Mallorca firmly on the map of the world’s fine-dining destinations.
Our ground-floor suite included bathroom-views of the surrounding mountains, romantic arched-ceiling, freestanding bathtub nestled into a stone crevice of the bedroom, and a private terrace overlooking the property’s private vineyard (the ideal spot to enjoy a spot of reading with a cool glass of the estate’s own white wine before dinner). >>
Our first evening meal was at the hotel’s Bistro Senzill, Son Jaumell’s canopied courtyard restaurant, where we tucked into generous platters of whole grilled seabass and octopus ceviche, all finished with a drizzle of olive oil fresh from the estate’s private olive groves. Morning breakfast is also served here, ensuring that guests are energised for the day ahead with an impressive selection of local pastries, cured meats and cheeses, cereals, yoghurts and eggs made to order. The herb-infused ‘detox water’ and a dairy-free milk selection to rival that of any of London’s hippest cafés add to the hotel’s impressive wellness offering, which includes complimentary yoga classes, luxurious in-house spa and massage treatments, and bikes available for those brave (and fit!) enough to take on the breathtaking, world-renowned Mallorcan cycle routes.
The following evening, ravenous after a day spent zipping around the island’s beaches and coastal towns on a Harley Davidson, we opted for the ‘Sensaciones’ tasting menu at Son Jaumell’s eponymous fine-dining destination, Restaurant Andreu Genestra. Welcomed with a wax-sealed envelope enclosing the evening’s menu, and presented with an antique wheeled trunk which doubled-up as a mobile bar for our aperitifs, we knew early on that we were in for a treat. After tasting Genestra’s pine-tree infused monkfish, frozen mustard with tomatoes and summer truffle, and a carrot cake to redefine the genre, we were nothing less than convinced of our initial prediction.
The western part of the island has a notably more urban feel, home to the capital city of Palma, along with a generous sprinkling of breathtaking villas tucked into the mountains, and more than its fair share of celebrated fine-dining establishments. Leaving behind the countryside-chic, centuries-old rooms and terraces of Predi Son Jaumell, we were bound for the St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort, where immaculate lawns, pristine infinity pools, Buckingham Palace-grade staff, and unbridled opulence in every furnishing awaited. >>
After falling victim to a rather shocking jellyfish sting that afternoon (hint: ask the locals about any resident jellyfish before launching headfirst into the tempting turquoise waters!), I was more than ready for our evening meal at Es Fum, the hotel’s celebrated Michelin-starred restaurant headed up by Chef Miguel Navarro. What I did not expect, however, was the level of personal care and kindness extended by the Chef, who upon hearing of my mollusc allergy asked us to join him for a tour of the kitchen and a ‘menu consultation’, where he re-crafted the evening’s menu for us on the spot, masterfully combining elements from the ‘petit’ and ‘tasting’ menus without a mussel in sight.
Along with only a handful of other guests (the kitchen serves only six guests per half hour to ensure the impeccable timing of each dish), and overlooking lush gardens with the moonlit sea just beyond, we savoured Navarro’s epicurean delights, among which were a rainbow of flavoured butters with homemade bread, melt-in-the-mouth foie gras ravioli, and slivers of smoked octopus.
Though the Balearics are often associated with summer getaways, the high-season reality can be crowded. But there’s another side to the region - discoverable deep into autumn - that’s charming, low-key, a little rugged, and boasting some of the finest cuisine that the continent has to offer. Combine this with a generous choice of luxury accommodation to suit every taste and style, and you have an offer that seems too good to refuse if, like me, you’re not quite ready for hot toddies and thermals.