Before we start, let me tell you a little something about me. While almost everyone I’ve ever met in the whole wide world raves (deservedly so) about Ibiza’s north, I have to admit, I’m just not the hugest fan. I prefer to be closer to Ibiza Town. Taking a trip up north for me is like a pilgrimage (don’t let that put you off, I’m just not partial to driving!) so I don’t do it very often. OR SO I THOUGHT, until I realised that this summer I have visited the gorgeous garden restaurant at Aura in San Llorenzo once a week!
So, that must also tell you something about the quality of the restaurant, before I even begin!
I just love the huge breaths of fresh jasmine you inhale as you pass through the entrance. I love having a cocktail, courtesy of Aura beverage director Chris Edwardes (my tipple of choice: Cucumber Onslaught) at the oh-so-pretty garden bar before taking a seat at the table under the bigtop, beneath softly lit modern versions of Chinese lanterns and twinkling fairy lights. It’s as world class a setting as anywhere I’ve ever been… and I’ve been to some pretty amazing restaurants in some pretty cosmopolitan locations.
Having completely revamped their menu this summer, (thanks to new executive chef Caroline Seely) changing from the old concept of sharing modern tapas to a contemporary three-course style affair (because let’s face it, very few of us actually want to share our food unless suffering from a severe case of food envy), deciding what to order at Aura can be pretty tricky (though vegetarians purists should be aware the carnivores have a better offering) because there’s a lot of different things going on.
On this particular occasion, we started with my favourite (as I may have mentioned in the past), a goat’s cheese salad… oh sorry, let me rephrase that: THE BEST GOAT’S CHEESE SALAD IN IBIZA. I double dare anyone to prove me wrong! Made with the finest local goat’s cheese, rocket, cherry tomatoes and the yummiest, sweet balsamic glaze, I was pretty happy we’d also ordered a plate of the Jamon Iberica ‘to share’, because it meant I managed to snaffle most of the goat’s cheese while BF tucked into the ham! Pretty darn good ham too, just for the record.
Our little table of three all opted for dishes from the new Aura outdoor barbeque, and as luck would have it for the sake of this review, we selected meat, chicken and fish. Not intentionally mind you, it just kind of worked out that way.
Veal was the order of the day for our masculine guest, on recommendation from our friendly waiter, and when that perfectly grilled chunk of meat on bone arrived to the table (plus a terracotta pot of Aura triple-fried red potato fries), the look of glee on his face basically signified that he’d hit the dining jackpot. Tender, rich in flavour and importantly, a very large portion, it was barbequed happiness on a plate (despite the political incorrectness of the cut!). The fish was actually a grilled special of the day, and I’m going to have to be perfectly honest here and tell you I cannot remember what particular type it was! I can tell you my dinner date enjoyed it, saying it was lovely and light, though it looked a little on the small side to me (but I’m just greedy).
For me, it was all about the Pollo al Diabo, which pretty much translates to devil chicken! I’ve eaten this dish on quite a few occasions and I have to say, there’s a reason why I keep on ordering it – because it’s just so tasty! Once again, a jumbo leg and breast, grilled to perfection, not dry like many other variations of bbq chook on this island, but tender and with a reddish tinge to the skin and a light, pink peppercorn spice to match, served with a buttery bean salad that is the ideal complement. Sure, it sounds a bit girly (well, until you see the rose-petal scented quail on the menu and think again) but I can assure you, it was every bit as satisfying (and perhaps even yummier) as any steak I’ve ever eaten!
Basically, whoever is manning the Aura outdoor grill – and I suspect it may be El Bulli trained head chef Gerard Ortiz – has got barbequing down to a fine art…
As for desserts… the options were a bit too complex for our simple tastes, involving a lot of blossoms, frozen fruits and scents, so we opted for the classic carajillo con Baileys and Espresso martinis instead, the perfect post-dinner pick-me-up to send us on inside to Aura’s dance floor…