Ibiza restaurants: Cotton Lounge Club – Pioneering perfection

Cotton Lounge Club was an instant success among island foodies and cocktail aficionados after its inception in 2016, however island-based Norwegian couple Christian and Merete Marstrander considered that its humble beginnings. Over the winter months that followed, the duo continued – in typical pioneering style – plotting the unstoppable ascent of their stylish venue on the Figueretes coastline, constantly striving for perfection. The outcome for this summer is a revived fine dining restaurant in every sense, with a new chef; a new menu and a new cocktail club on the ground floor level.

Adorned in sleek white décor and overlooking the sparkling cerulean shoreline, Cotton Lounge Club stands as a destination in its own right. And that’s before you scratch below the surface to discover five-star haute cuisine and world-class cocktails. The area in which it is set, Figueretes, is tipped as one of the island’s most up-and-coming neighbourhoods, set to receive a stunning makeover over the next five years.

As is often the case with the Marstranders’ business plans, they predicted this trend before it happened, swooping in to claim a spot in Figueretes and putting their stamp on it before anyone else. Today, Cotton Lounge Club is the number one luxury food and drink destination in the area, embodying the quintessential Cotton aesthetic for which the brand has become known.

A key element of the restaurant’s impressive upgrade lies in hiring a new chef. Enter the much-revered Alex Arquero, formerly of Bambuddha and a passionate global traveller who has honed as much of his craft on the streets of Asia as he has in prestigious culinary schools. After totally transforming the Bambuddha menu during his five-year tenure, Alex felt it was time for a new challenge in Ibiza.

As a result, the past winter saw him pursued by some of the world’s biggest names in cuisine, and having met them all, he decided Cotton Lounge Club was where he could really make his mark. “I wanted to move from Bambuddha to somewhere amazing,” he explains. “I was introduced to Christian and Merete, I liked the concept and could see the potential.” Thus, a new partnership was formed, one focused on providing fine dining for in-the-know food enthusiasts – not only from Ibiza, but the world over.

The all-new Cotton Lounge Club menu is born from Alex’s heart, with dish after dish to be proud of – and to savour. “I spent a lot of time developing the new menu,” he says of the revamp. “I didn’t want it to read like a normal menu – I wanted it to show something different.” Consequently, the menu is split into separate distinct sections that include the spiritedly titled ‘raw’, ‘garden and field’, ‘spoon’, ‘cold, land and sea’, ‘sea, deep blue’, ‘land, wild and free’ and ‘sweet ending’ – an esoteric approach to describing the food’s origins that helps the diner form a connection with what they’re eating.

“My creations depend on my mood and the countries I’ve been visiting,” Alex says of his inspiration. “I get a lot of ideas while I’m travelling.” Which goes a long way to explaining the fusion of Chinese, Japanese and Mediterranean styles seen on the Cotton Lounge Club card, albeit with a twist. “Some are traditional recipes, but made from our point of view,” he continues.

This is visible in dishes like the restaurant’s pièce de resistance, Peking duck, an ode to the original, with added flecks of Alex’s originality. Here, the most tender of meats, cooked slowly and at low temperatures, is served with a pungent sweet cherry sauce and red wine shallots that envelop the tastebuds. The chef’s personal favourite is a seafood and coconut milk soup, accompanied by a succulent red prawn, sea cucumber and smoked black garlic, served in a whole coconut shell, so you can tuck into the flesh once finished.

Devotees of raw food will love the octopus ceviche, which tastes as fresh as a trickling spring on the palate. Beautifully presented in a circle surrounding a passion fruit and ginger dressing, diners are encouraged to douse the octopus and accompanying courgette salad from the inside out, to ensure they receive one combined explosive hit of all the flavours. Explaining certain techniques, interesting ingredients and demonstrating the best way in which to experience the act of eating is yet another of Alex’s passions – there is no dish on the menu that doesn’t feature its own unique approach.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful dishes on the menu is the beetroot ravioli with king crab. A bona fide salty sensation, it’s served with seaweed, chlorophyll and ‘ajo blanco’, presented like a piece of modern art on a matte black plate. A pipette infused with intense basil flavours is used to dribble dressing atop the sauce as you desire, adding to the interactive drama of dining at Cotton Lounge Club.

As for something entirely unique, sample the roasted aubergine with miso for a taste of the creativity in Arquero’s kitchen. Marinated in the same sticky sweet sauce as the famous Nobu black cod, the resulting dish is unlike anything else you’ll ever have tasted. Perfectly roasted soft aubergine combined with a sweet miso sauce, salty Stilton (yes, it works), macadamia nuts and an aloe vera salad – this heavenly dish is a blossoming classic and a new signature for the restaurant.

Tearing yourself away from the scrumptious food can be tricky, but with the temptation of first-class cocktails waiting on the ground floor it’s a transition that can be made much more easily in 2017. This season, the Marstranders have moved their much-acclaimed cocktail lounge, Baboon Bar (previously tucked away in a Figueretes side street), to the stylish space beneath Cotton Lounge CLub, meaning you can start or end the night in a haze of high-end alcohol-infused enchantment.

Baboon Bar boasts incredible views of the Med and is particularly captivating at sunset, when petrol blues and vibrant pinks seem to fuse in the sky before your eyes. With classic décor and an almost colonial-era feel, it’s a different world to its upstairs neighbour and any other bar in Ibiza – more like you’ve stumbled into a classy speakeasy.

At the helm here is Luca, a mixologist so acclaimed he was once named one of the top ten bartenders in the world. He talks fervently about his craft, displaying a deep knowledge of the masters that came before him – a knowledge that’s well worth delving into as a novice, or just a curious bar fly.

Come with an idea of your preferred flavours and tastes and Luca will whip up some flavour-filled excellence accompanied by a story explaining its origins – while a custom-designed Baboon Bar menu is on offer, he truly excels when working on a bespoke level.

Tinctures are homemade, spirits are expertly infused with the dedication and passion of a scientist and cutting-edge techniques – such as smoking within glass domes – are used to create cocktail magic. All spirits served in Baboon are top shelf, naturally, with everything from a menu of mezcals to obscure Japanese whiskeys on offer for the true late-night connoisseurs.

Therein lies the magic of Cotton Lounge Club – an unbeatable setting, unparalleled talent and a team with ceaseless passion for their art. Stand back and watch this venue soar this coming summer and beyond…

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