Reviewed by Justine Murphy, CEO of mymuybueno – October 2016
Fernando Pérez Arellano gained a Michelin star in 2010 just a few months after transferring his restaurant from Madrid to Mallorca. He then moved to a second location on the island, Castell Son Claret Hotel, and this is where where Zaranda won its second star in 2016. This is at present the only two Michelin star establishment on the island of Mallorca.
Zaranda opens for dinner only, and has a choice of three tasting menus. As I had eaten there the year before when it still held one star, I was very keen to see just how much more they were delivering on and chose a selection from across all three menus.
To start, The Spice Route. This is a wonderful amuse bouche with a real taste of Morocco, which is heavily referenced throughout the menu.
Parchment of Prawn and Mint, Arancini of Saffron Rice and Mozzarella, Kibbeh with Mehamera, Falafel with Tzaziki and Durum Bread. I loved this dish last time, and enjoyed it even more on this occasion. Beautiful light and delicious flavours with matching sauces to dip each bite into. The platter, which was made on the island, is wonderful and was created especially for this dish.
Vitello Tonnato. This was red tuna belly with veal and caviar, to be enjoyed in three bites. It was very nicely done, melt in your mouth, with each ingredient well balanced and presented in a neat way.
Sea Cucumbers with Rock Mussels, Light Escabeche and Fennel. This was good, a very light dish.
Chilli Crab with a spicy crab broth and croquette was served next to my guest, and he said that it was delicious.
As I have a crab allergy, I was presented with the Crispy Fried Razor Wrasse. This was an interesting dish, although the Thai flavour did perplex me somewhat, as I wondered whether it belonged here at Zaranda. Fresh cucumber made up the noodle element of what was a play on a deconstructed Pad Thai. It was nice, the fish delicate and light, with cashews, coconut and a light curry sauce, but it left my palate confused.
Next came the White Delicacy of Spiny Lobster, Baby Marrow, Blossom and Fresh Almonds. This was a delightful dish, served over two plates at once, which was a pattern throughout the meal.
A beautiful lobster taillight with a light prawn cracker on the top, a light cream and sweet almonds. Subtle, light and just beautiful. Taking bites of the stuffed zucchini flower (which was filled with lobster, coated in tempura batter and gently fried) made it the perfect combination and married the two dishes together.
Next is the Black Egg. This is a real signature dish from Zaranda and I enjoyed it last time too. It’s a novelty seeing a black egg on your plate, and fun to break it open and allow the glorious amber nectar of the yolk to ooze out. However, it’s definitely not a gimmick, it’s a stunning dish which tastes quite amazing. The black skin of the poached egg (the skin is blackened from sepia and caviar of Calamari) sits on a bed of white onion puree and crispy rice. The latter was a little too chewy for my palate, and although I can understand the texture addition, it’s almost a little over-crisped and left me still chewing it long after the rest of the dish was finished.
Cause and Effects of a Moray Eel is the name of the next dish. This was an interesting little tapas featuring a light potato mouse with skin of eel on top. This was quite cleverly presented with the gold flecks on the dish resembling the golden spots on an eel, which tied in with the taste of eel, then a bite of blackened eel, and then a baby taco filled with romesco, eel and onion. It was all a little salty for my palate, and there was touch too much black garlic also.
Iberico Steak. This was very good, with Moroccan spices, coal-roasted vegetables and a spicy skin cracker. It had smoky flavours and was the most melt-in-your-mouth pork I have ever tasted.
Lamb’s Berber Dinner came next and this was very good. This was spread across a few servings, which we now were getting used to.
Then a palate cleanser arrived, presented in a charming way, Green Tea and Mint decanted from a beautiful silver teapot was served in glasses on a silver platter. Each glass was topped with a Lemon Foam. Sweet and fresh.
Then followed the next few stages of the lamb dinner.
A plate of hummus, which was applied to the plate with a very Moroccan-feel stencil, a centrepiece of a sphere made from yoghurt and muhammara (roasted pepper puree) with vibrant pink pomegranate seeds sprinkled over the top. This was pleasing to both the eye and the palate.
A beautiful large colourful tile was presented next, holding a mini tagine with lamb kebabs served on a bed of couscous with local vegetables. Then a rib of lamb, which showed which part of the lamb you were eating. Each mouthful was made using meat shaved from the ribs, encased in a layer of goat milk which formed a skin. Perfect little pittas to finish. This was a fun but delicious hands-on meal, and if it wasn’t for my absolute love of the octopus dish, this too deserves a top spot as a very close second favourite. Fun and playful – a spin on Spanish tapas, but Morrocan. It worked.
The Fig Tree. This featured two figs, one green, one black. This dish did not work for me, it felt like another confused dish. The black fig was just a fresh fig containing, for some reason, a cherry filling. The fig was cut for me and the content oozed out. The green fig, which sat on a natural fig leave (not to be eaten) was a a green, shaped fig made from fresh fig that had been frozen with dry ice and which contained a cherry ice cream. It didn’t carry much flavour at all. In fact, the green tasted of nothing, just water. There was another leaf on the plate formed from a green crème patisserie imprint, but it brought nothing more to the plate than colour. Two scooped out balls of fig also sat on the plate, Perhaps these were meant to resemble cherries – I have no idea. Last year I had their remarkable lemon dessert and I had high expectations of this too, but it failed to deliver the same prestige.
The second part of the dessert was a fig tart, which was much better. This was similar to a tarte tatin made with carpaccio of marinated figs in a port reduction, with a goat’s cheese ice cream and a circle of green filo pastry. This was the better half of this dessert and I was relieved this one came second too.
Petit Fours of mini ensaïmadas, a traditional pastry from Mallorca, were served in a traditional box.
A very good selection paired by the sommelier, all from Mallorca and mainland Spain.
Favourite Dish: S’Amfora, the Octopus dish for certain.
Napkin Fold: Yes.
Menu to take home: No.
Meal for two, including wine, water and service: £350.
Final Thought: Zaranda’s website states ‘A culinary voyage of discovery, barbecue…from the garden…from the grill…freshly caught…from the sea.’ I would say that this sentence sums up fully the experience that is Zaranda. Your tastebuds go on a journey to some far-away places, which mostly work, and it delivers on its two star status without doubt.
Address: Castell Son Claret, Es Capdellà, Mallorca
Telephone: + 34 971 13 86 27
Hours: Tuesday– Sunday (including bank holidays)
Dinner: 7pm – 11pm
Chefs Get Personal: Fernando Arellano Interview