For some families, certain facets are passed down through the generations like treasured heirlooms. Sometimes they come in the form of personality traits, other times as physical attributes, or in the case of the Abellán clan, a propensity for culinary prowess. For acclaimed Catalonian restaurateur Tomás Abellán – the man behind famed Barcelona venues Bar Alégria and Casa Luz, and founder of hip new Ibiza restaurant Casa Linda – there’s no question that gastronomy and hospitality are in his blood thanks to his father, the revered Michelin-starred chef Carles Abellán. And yet, when it comes to entrepreneurial skills and success, it’s quite clear that he does things his own way.
After growing up in restaurant kitchens and dining rooms – working alongside his father from his early teens – Tomás flew the Catalonia coop to spend three years studying at the renowned New York Film Academy, where he developed a passion for aesthetics. He returned home, and began to work alongside another chef titan, Nandu Jubany, before working his way up from waiter and maître d’ to senior management roles in Comerç 24 (awarded a Michelin star during his tenure) and Bravo. Still, despite his career success, Tomás was looking for something to put his own unique stamp on. Something a little more relaxed and perhaps even a little more edgy.
In his first foray into the foodie scene in the Balearics, acclaimed restaurateur Tomás Abellán of Grupo Alégria fame has launched Casa Linda in San José.
Realising he could fuse his meticulous eye for detail and style with the hospitality industry he loved, Tomás branched out on his own in 2019 as he revamped Bar Alegría in Barcelona, which dates back to 1899. Even the name hinted at his new mindset (alegría means ‘happiness), and the concept centred around an elevated tapas menu – ultra-luxe but nostalgic. The branding was fun, in keeping with Tomás’ light-hearted spirit and vision, and the restaurant quickly became a success. His drive saw Tomás expand his restaurant portfolio (Grupo Alegría) in 2021, with the opening of rooftop restaurant Casa Luz – a sun-drenched spot in the heart of the city serving up his now signature good vibes and spot-on cuisine from morning until night. And then, Ibiza came calling…
The same way he’d felt compelled to leave his father’s restaurants and forge his own career, Tomás was once again feeling itchy feet. City life was wearing thin, and opportunities in Ibiza were tempting. With his father now living just a zip across the Med in Formentera (where he opened another Tapas 24 outpost), Tomás knew that the quality and abundance of fresh produce in the Balearics would be a dream to work with and a concept began to take shape in his head. When a good friend recently acquired and renovated the gorgeous boutique hotel Jardines de Palerm, nestled in the rolling hills of San José, he offered Tomás the opportunity to run the restaurant space and in 2023, Casa Linda was born. “I was ready to start a new adventure in a new place,” he says.
The seemingly remote location of Casa Linda belies its proximity to the bustling western village – although completely secluded, it’s just a few minutes to the main road. Exclusive and chic, the Mediterranean Sea glistens in the distance while at dusk, the light from Ibiza’s pastel-shaded sunsets sweeps in through the boughs of trees strung with twinkling fairy lights. There’s a sense of magic in the air here, and it’s easy to forget that anyone else is around as you revel in the ambience of what feels like your very own secret garden that blooms at night – this was always Tomás’ intention. “I want people to feel at home here,” he says. “To taste local products and natural wines in a unique environment, and to enjoy the energy of the island.”
Relishing the challenge of opening an Ibiza restaurant from scratch, while embracing a lifestyle that’s slightly more chilled out (Tomás still travels back and forth to Barcelona each week to remain hands-on with his businesses), clearly agrees with the charismatic restaurateur. “I love to see the sea every day,” Tomás says, gesturing through the trees of the stunning pine-clad garden. “Even if it’s just for five minutes in the car. I love being on the island, surrounded by nature.” Casa Linda is testament to that admiration. Rooted in the quality of local products and built on foundations that depend on a network of Ibiza’s best fishermen and farmers, the menu is a parade of the island’s daily bounty, and every dish is bursting with the purity and flavour of Ibiza’s soil and seas.
Casa Linda is located in an exclusive garden setting that truly blooms at night, under the light of the moon and strings of sparkling fairy lights.
Focaccia and sourdough are made daily by lauded local chef David Reartes, olive oil and honey from Ibiza are kitchen staples, and the man in charge of transforming it all into the ever-evolving delights on offer at Casa Linda is Mexican-born executive chef, Mariano Segura. Already well decorated after stints in some of the world’s best restaurants – including Albert Adrià’s Ticketsin Barcelona, Máximo Bistrot in Mexico City and Bar Alegría with Tomás – Mariano brings much experience and creativity to the restaurant.
The Casa Linda menu is simple, honest and delicious fare inspired by the typical comida casera (which roughly translated means homemade) of Catalonia. Every seasonal ingredient is beautifully prepared, imbued with love, and delivered to the table by staff who regale the tale behind each dish. An homage to the spaces that once characterised Ibiza’s ancient farmhouses, the menu has been designed to take your tastebuds on a tour of the cold store cupboard (la fresquera); the pantry (la despensa); the garden and henhouse (el huerto y el gallinero); the grill (los fogones); and the wine cellar (la bodega).
Start with the ultra-fresh tomato tartare – scooped into nasturtium leaves with wasabi guacamole like tiny tacos – or the Catalan classic, anchovies with smoked butter. The Ibiza-inspired bikini is a toastie filled with bubbling sobrasada and mozzarella, then drizzled with local honey; the king crab salad is at once light, fresh and creamy. Mains include the smoky, local catch of the day – often snapper, mullet and scorpion fish from Ibiza – or the succulent Middle Eastern style lamb ssam. Don’t leave Casa Linda without sampling dessert, including creamy Basque cheesecake; the ice cream twist on Carles Abellán’s iconic chocolate with bread, olive oil and salt, best enjoyed with an an ice-cold cocktail from the bar.
Charmed by the island, Tomás’ famous eye for detail abounds, from personally curated playlists, to live music on Tuesday nights that conjures the perfect, romantic ambience. Much of the décor at Casa Linda has been repurposed – upcycled from Tomás’ and his father’s restaurants – with Tomás himself involved in every step from painting chairs and tables to hand-selecting vintage tableware. The Abellán family connection continues through Tomás’ sister, Jùlia Navarro, who also relocated to the white isle to join her older brother and mentor in his new venture, as maître d’ and restaurant manager. Casa Linda may be his first foray into the foodie scene of the Balearics, but Tomás Abellán is no stranger to attention-grabbing venues and exceptional gastronomic experiences – island gourmands should take note and book now!