Ibiza restaurants: El Clodenis – Looking to the future

With a rich, illustrious history as a restaurant and a past that spans decades, one may have expected El Clodenis to reopen in 2017 under the umbrella of its former glories. But like a phoenix from the flames, it’s burst back onto the Ibiza restaurant scene unrecognisable from its previous self. This summer, it’s been reinvented as a 100-day pop up concept combining a unique fusion of food, art and music, and taken care of by a group of likeminded friends – all with connections to the creative industries – the only aspect that remains the same is the restaurant’s stunning location.

Set atop a hillside overlooking San Rafael, within touching distance of the shadows cast by the ancient local church, El Clodenis is set in an 18th century finca built using the very same sandstone as its more sanctified neighbour. A restaurant cum bar cum exclusive microclub, it’s a space which has been transformed into a vanguard oasis for people looking for extraordinary experiences on balmy midsummer nights. In the words of collaborator Andreas Simon, the restaurant is an embodiment of “culinary art meets visual art meets music – as far away from commercial as possible.”

This ethos is music to the ears of the island’s more free spirited movers and shakers, and while it may seem it was an idea a long time in the planning, in fact it was a serendipitous encounter that led to the restaurant’s fires being stoked once more. According to Andreas, the restaurant owner had some time to kill before a delayed flight one day, so as a lover of old churches, he parked up in San Rafael to while away a few hours. There, he met an old Ibicenco watering the plants outside the restaurant and asked if he could take a look inside.

“The Ibicenco told him he had the phone number of the owner,” Andreas explains. “Jose called the number, booked a flight to Paris to meet him, and by the end of that day he had a restaurant!” That was just this year, and with only three months to get the restaurant back up and running, Jose called on his closest friends and trusted allies to get things rolling. Thus was born the idea for a 100-day pop up concept that would integrate all of the arts under one very special roof.

Months later and the restaurant is in the full throes of summer, already renowned for its exclusive dining setting and attitude for doing things differently. The restaurant is set beneath a canopy of trees on an alfresco terrace, there are tables dotted next to an enticing pool, and the décor embodies ethnic chic. Turkish kilims are interspersed throughout; Balinese-style lanterns hang from branches; and by night, a mapped lighting system transforms surrounding leaves into amalgamating faces and shapes. “When it gets dark, that is the moment you see the magic of the place,” says creative director Cesar Vergel.

The culinary concept was designed in collaboration between Jose and the restaurant’s chef, Antonio Relaño Romero. Using locally sourced produce where possible, the menu is Mediterranean focused with flecks of more international influences – think South America, Thai and Indian. Ceviche is a firm favourite, sitting alongside fresh seafood, superfood salads and the best cuts of meat. You can even choose to be surprised, should the mood take you – the team are experts at recommendations. All this is complemented by a choice of biodynamic wines untouched by chemicals, local beer and of course mezcal – the El Clodenis bar is a bona fide mezcaleria, with a huge selection of the renowned spirit. “Approach with caution!” warns Andreas jokingly.

After dinner, the action moves indoors, where another bar awaits to dole out mischief in a glass, and where you can have a drink before moving into the cavernous club for dancing. In tradition with the rest of the venue, the interior here is a work of art in itself. The club’s décor was designed by Anton Unai, an artist from Spain. The walls are chaotic and alive with stories. “They incorporate everything from goddesses and Phoenicians to hippies and freaks to the future!” Andreas explains. And the art doesn’t stop there; lasers adorn the floor in geometrical shapes, using the people dancing atop it as inspiration.

On Friday nights, the club is home to Psychedelic Sex, a party where you can dance to the sounds of deep, sexy house music until 3am. There are also live art performances planned, and openness to collaborating with anyone who can bring something unique to El Clodenis. “It’s an open project so we’re receptive to propositions from anyone,” emphasises Andreas. “Our only rule is we don’t want to do anything that’s already been done on the island.” This unique little space may be housed in a UNESCO World Heritage building that protects the past, but the people running the show are only looking to the future.

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