Juanito in the 21st Century

If Jesus had been born in Ibiza, the inn with no crib for a bed would most certainly have been Juanito’s. It is an ancient place, run forever by the legendary Juanito and famous for its excellent lamb – cooked in what looks the cauldron Obelix fell into as a baby. It is the penultimate eatery on the San Juan road, known as restaurant road, starting with the newer expat imports of Bambuddha, Ocho and Aura and ending with a cluster of prehistoric ultra Ibicenco grill restaurants.

Into this ultra Ibicenco scene steps Matt Jones, founder of London’s organic Flour Power City. Using an interesting new marketing technique called ‘Shhhh, Don’t Tell Anyone We’re Open’ he reopened Juanito’s this week. The secrecy technique failed however and the restaurant was full, the bar was full and so was the terrace. Juanito himself, unable to keep away, supervised the concoction of his famous ultra authentic Allioli. It remains the same – garlic, olive oil, salt – also as eye watering as ever.

Matt had made only a puy lentil stew/soup just in case anyone happened to turn up. That, of course was gone within minutes. Not surprising given how delicious it was and the quality of the bread that was served alongside it, but it left the problem of how to feed the rest of the people who had popped in just to see what was going on. Whilst my back was turned Matt made a chopped Imam Bayaldi (a Turkish spiced aubergine dish that translates as the Priest Fainted, because he did when his cook first served it to him) that was so fresh, so subtle and so delightful all the women started crying.

This was again served with the bread with which Matt has made his name in London. This is now the best bread on the island. This stuff is killer. There is the white and the 75% rye, both are big, country style loaves that are exactly what bread is supposed to be – doughy but not dense, heavy without weighing in your stomach, ever so slightly sour but with a delicious freshness. This is real bread and it makes real toast.

Once all the women had stopped crying they were served oranges in vanilla caramel and an orange sorbet made eight minutes before it was served, the ingredients which were nothing but orange and icing sugar (the syrup bypassed so as not to water down the flavour). For those who wanted chocolate there was brownie…

Since Matt wasn’t expecting anyone the menu was by no means complete. When it is, Juanito’s in the 21st Century will remain essentially the same, adding just a few new touches – grilled meats accompanied by pepperonata instead of a slice of vaguely grilled pepper. Lemon sorbet made in the kitchen instead of some industrial plant on the outskirts of Barcelona. That sort of thing.

Oh yes, and the bakery. Matt was trying to keep his croissants (which will be baked daily) a secret, but I broke into the bakery and got hold of the best pain au chocolat I have ever had. All this stuff from the ovens will be available for sale over the counter. I have a feeling that Matt’s secrecy plan is going to fail and once again heaven on earth is going to be present here on Ibiza.