As dusk falls into evening and the summer sky starts to glitter with stars across Santa Eulalia Bay, luxury resort W Ibiza flashes with an understated excitement. The shining glass doors at the entrance are constantly revolving with glamorous guests and visitors intent on making their way past the reception desk and through to the hotel’s signature restaurant, La Llama. While it’s not actually a secret, La Llama still feels like a clandestine bolthole, thanks to the cleverly concealed entrance that gives little clue as to what lies beyond.
But first, to The Bridge! Set on the platform across the iconic W Lounge and acting as a conduit between the hotel entrance and La Llama, this sleek and stylish cocktail lounge is where your night begins. Here, expert mixologists build bespoke cocktails for guests as they wait to be waved into La Llama for their evening reservation. Libations in a multitude of colours and flavours slide across the bar before guests seem to disappear into thin air, drinks in hand. On closer inspection, a thick wooden wall just beyond the bar reveals itself to be an automatic door, periodically sliding open allowing guests to slip into La Llama, momentarily revealing an epicurean vision pulsating with energy to those still on the outside.
La Llama means ‘the flame’ in Spanish and upon entering the restaurant, the source of the name becomes immediately apparent. The beating heart of La Llama is its vast open kitchen, the glossy stainless steel surfaces reflecting flaming pans, busy chefs and beautiful food. La Llama’s cuisine oscillates between the flavours of Israel and many from around the globe, spanning various cultures from Australia to Ukraine with a generous dash of the Med. Dishes invite diners to experience the primal aromas of fire and smoke, infusing each ingredient with an ancient context displayed through modern techniques.
While its sleek and buzzing interior wouldn’t be out of place in New York or LA, the stunning sea views from the lengthy terrace plant La Llama firmly in Ibiza. There’s just a hint of Bali to the vibe too, with the combination of a dusky palette and sleek black furnishings while palm trees tower above. Vibrant music is the uniting element – enveloping guests and the team into a jovial synthesis. The sophisticated crowd are impeccably dressed, laughing, flirting and eating with abandon. After all, eating is what they came here to do, and when it comes to cuisine, La Llama certainly doesn’t disappoint.
The first task, of course, is perusing the menu, starting with cocktails or wine. La Llama’s wine list is one of the most extensive on the island, offering drops from around the world. An experienced sommelier is on-hand to help find the perfect match for your palate, and your menu choices. Cocktails here are well-crafted and those wishing to pace themselves can opt for delicious low-alcohol and non-alcoholic combinations. While you’re pondering your choices, a plate of taboon-baked focaccia appears, accompanied by a quenelle of smoked butter and pots of olive tapenade and an intensely flavourful zhug – designed to be pulled apart and savoured, it’s the perfect beginning to a meal that appeals to all the senses.
The La Llama menu has a distinct focus on expertly grilled meats but vegetarians and pescatarians will also find a plethora of flavour-filled starter options to choose from. Most notably perhaps, the corn salad – a fresh melange of barbecued corn, labneh, herbs, fermented lemon, almonds and ras el hanout – already has its own legion of loyal fans. Sashimi-style celeriac comes with a yuzu, tabasco and buttermilk sauce topped with green peas and olive oil. There’s also toro tuna tataki, cured sardines, and octopus with pumpkin tahini. Meanwhile, meat lovers must try the basturma – homemade beef pastrami crowned with an abundance of parmesan.
And now, for the main event: select cuts of first-class meats from around the world are the star of the show at La Llama. Choose between tender buey, dry-aged for 70 days, or the prestigious Portuguese Minhota, dry-aged for 45 days, succulently tender and evenly marbled – both are available as prime rib, tomahawk or tenderloin, depending on the size of your group, your appetite and your preference. There’s also the ultra-premium Wagyu – grass and corn fed with a rose buttery marbling – the entrecote hails from Hida Gyu in Japan, while the rib-eye comes direct from Michifuku in Chile. All are exceptional and require very little in the form of accoutrements – aside from a decadent sprinkling of sea salt or perhaps a dab of one of the chef’s homemade salsas. You have reached barbecue nirvana.
In addition to melt-in-the-mouth grilled meats at La Llama, three pasta dishes – including black pasta with jumbo shrimp, and potato and leek tortellini with Baerii caviar vie for attention with Dover sole and a delectable rendition of traditional Israeli H’raime – sea bass with rich tomato gravy, sour cream, preserved lemon, charred chilli and challah bread. It’s also advisable to leave room for dessert because executive pastry chef Sheila Castells‘ knafeh is astonishing – a spun pastry dessert from the Middle East served with goat cheese and orange blossom syrup, while the yuzu lemon pie is tart and sweet in all the right spots served with gluten-free confit of lemon crumble, lemon cake, yuzu cream, toasted meringue and mini basil leaves.
After dinner come the trays of espresso martinis because while the meal may be over, the night has only just begun. Just as they arrived, guests depart La Llama in a cloak of secrecy. Time to see where the Ibiza night takes you, whether back to your suite at W Ibiza, onto a superclub or out onto the silky sands of the beach for a sunrise stroll before bed.
Open from Tuesday to Saturday, La Llama delivers high-end gastronomy with an edgy ambience and world-class service, embracing the island’s reputation for hedonism and transforming it into an urbane and chic experience. A sophisticated venue that ignites the senses and stimulates the soul, every evening spent here is like an unforgettable dream – one that burns bright like an eternal flame.