Ibiza restaurants: Gare du Nord – Winter’s northern star

Lovers of gastronomy, fine wine and the north of Ibiza will be pleased to hear there’s a new dining destination ticking all three boxes that remains open off-season. Chic eatery Gare Du Nord is subtly tucked away on a hillside in the village of San Juan, its classic green and white exterior hiding one of winter’s most exciting new culinary experiences, complete with a stylish, cosy interior and magical heated garden space with a playhouse for kids.

The vision of Dutch entrepreneur and long-term island resident Ramon Bruijne, the Gare du Nord concept stems from the owners’ desire to enjoy a high-end dining concept in the north of the island all year round. While summer in the beautiful bohemian north is no longer a secret – attracting more luxury seeking tourists and expats than ever before – in the winter, the area tends to go quiet, with very few restaurants open and no fine dining destinations to speak of. For year-round business owners with a young family such as Ramon and his wife Annemarie Bauer – who also run the chic Gare Du Nord boutique hotel and quirky car rental agency Ducks United – travelling to Ibiza town every weekend for dinner just felt like too much. It seems, if you want something done, you’ve got to do it yourself and plans were hatched to add a dining space to the ground floor of the hotel.

Once plans were in place, it was just a matter of months before the restaurant took shape. Housed in a former garage and an unused garden space attached to the recently revamped hotel, Ramon envisioned a space where industrial details and fittings met rustic island style. Not afraid to get his hands dirty, he built much of the wood and metal work with his own bare hands, from the huge double wooden doors that open out to the street front and the small tables inside through to the communal outdoor benches, striking floor-to-ceiling wine-rack and more. Annemarie worked alongside him to design the interiors, bringing in a variety of restored school seats and coffee house chairs from Amsterdam, while introducing rich tones of emerald green to complement the building’s exterior details and lush plant life.

Finding the right chef was the next step, and as with many things in Ibiza, Ramon first heard about his future head chef via word of mouth on the morning school run. Argentinean-born Emmanuel Anzel Martínez was already well-known on the island, having worked in some of the island’s very best kitchens (including Sa Punta, Bambuddha, STK and Pastis) and looking for a new challenge, and soon the two were introduced and a bond formed over fine food. Inspired by traditional French cooking techniques, but giving them an international twist is the Gare du Nord ethos and Martínez was indeed up to the challenge. His seasonal menus are nothing short of outstanding, and a nod to his international and island experience in addition to the high quality of local produce.

Showcased on a blackboard to allow flexibility for seasonal ingredients and specials, the food is the star of the show at Gare du Nord, for as stylish and functional as a space may be, it’s your clientele’s taste buds that do the real talking. For the cooler months, Martínez has dreamed up some delicious winter warmers such as a spicy Thai red lentil and coco soup and sautéed seasonal mushrooms with foie gras to start. Of course, there are also classics such as creamy Burrata with local tomatoes, pomegranate and lime confit or the ever-popular seafood ceviche with flying fish caviar and mango pearls.

Mains include the decadent sirloin ‘Rossini’, topped with foie gras and served in a red wine reduction and the most perfectly, crispy cooked duck confit with a Mexican twist of black beans, ranchera, habanero and crispy plantain chips. Another house specialty is the Pluma Iberica, a sweet and soft cut of pork cooked in Teriyaki sauce and corvina with Indian nut curry, clams and pak choi. A hearty, wintry risotto of seasonal mushrooms and truffles is guaranteed to please while those with a lighter appetite will love the fresher than fresh sashimi served with an Asian style salad and strawberries.

All desserts are homemade and well worth saving room for – think chocolate coulant with custard, cardamom and mascarpone with orange and crispy almond, or carrot and coconut cake with red fruit compote and lime zest. The Gare du Nord wine list too, has been curated with much care, with Ramon working closely alongside island wine specialists Vino & Co to craft a list perfectly paired with the kitchen’s culinary creations. Many of the special drops hail from the south of France, north of Spain and north of Italy, with other favourites ordered in to match the daily specials.

Open Friday and Saturday from 12.30pm until late and again on Sundays from 12.30 to 6pm, the Gare du Nord winter agenda offers even more reasons to visit, including ladies’ night, an art auction lunch and a chef’s choice tasting dinner in addition to the a la carte menu and specials. Saturday afternoons play host to ‘The Family Table’, where grown-ups and kids alike are invited to sample the Gare du Nord offering in the heated garden space, with a fun kids’ corner in the garden and special children’s menu for just 8€. Sundays in San Juan are all about the Artisan Market – come early for some sun-drenched retail therapy and then linger longer over the food. And for those looking for a new and luxurious destination to spend Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve in Ibiza, plans for feasting are already in motion.

With a cracking fireplace in the protected garden space to keep you cosy, the stunning interior, warm and welcoming service and high-level cuisine, Gare du Nord now offers those based in the north a fabulous weekend dining option – not to mention giving those foodies based in Ibiza town, the south or west of the island all the more reason to visit the north. The ambience is laidback yet luxurious, the intimate space feels lived-in yet elegant and the food is high-end yet homely. Everything you want in an Ibiza winter dining experience and more.

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