Ibiza restaurants: La Imprenta – A palatial Parisian experience
There are few restaurants in Ibiza that successfully manage to transport diners to other worlds, largely because it takes the perfect combination of elements to really achieve that – décor, drinks, food and ambience all play a unique part. Finding a venue that gets all four just right is a rarity. With the opening of La Imprenta in Ibiza town however, there is now a Parisian paradise on our island doorstep, a restaurant that conjures the core of a departed era in all its classical glory. In the process, La Imprenta carries guests to the capital of France and allows them to spend many magical moments there, all year round.
La Imprenta opened early this summer amid much Gallic fanfare. Set on a corner in the heart of Ibiza town, it’s one of four offerings from Cristian Jesús Grossi and José Luis Bousoño Rodríguez, otherwise known as the Amaribiza Group – the owners behind the much-acclaimed La Dispensa in Dalt Vila – and yet it’s an eatery with a distinct character all of its own. Housed in the former printhouse of the Diario de Ibiza, La Imprenta is a stunning homage to iconic Parisian chic, with the menu, décor and innate quirkiness all paying tribute to the original connoisseurs of sophisticated elegance.
A large proportion of the restaurant’s French essence comes as a result of its rich, opulent décor, and the man behind the magic is the Amaribiza Group’s Ricardo Jorge Coelho, a man with vivid artistic vision. In collaboration with Cristian, he says the plan for the interior design came together in practically no time at all, such was their certainty on the atmosphere they wanted to create: “We decided on the design within five hours,” he explains. “Then over the following months, we spent a lot of time searching for the right pieces from different decades to make the idea become a reality.”
Beautiful vintage are pieces are interspersed throughout the restaurant – lamps from the 50s, crystal chandeliers from the 70s and much more – and it is a space that’s been carefully curated to reflect Ricardo’s concept down to every single detail. “I designed each piece here,” he says. “The chairs, the walls, the mirrors – everything. We wanted it to look like a neo-classical palace from the end of the 18th century with some modern touches. Essentially we wanted it to look like someone was living here!” And it does, courtesy of the many eccentric flourishes visible throughout, including stunning couture that further display Coehlo’s talent and creativity. Think beautiful dresses presented in glass cabinets, flowers on the fireplace and plush, tactile sofas – the French aristocracy would feel quite at home here.
Elsewhere within La Imprenta, the décor is equally as spectacular. Downstairs is characterised by monochrome tiles, clean lines and jade green, velvet sofas, boasting more of a brasserie feel. Upstairs meanwhile, is home to the restaurant’s unique cocktail bar, The Black Box, and a private dining area, that is potentially even more luxurious. Shades of regal red and autumnal ochre contrast dark walls and floors, all brought to life by luxurious flecks of gold present here and there. Even the toilet at La Imprenta is fit for kings and queens – when the taps are gold swan heads you know you can expect a grand affair.
This sense of unapologetic grandeur naturally extends to the menu, a French and Spanish affair that’s peppered with luxurious, quintessentially French ingredients like caviar and foie gras. Behind each dish is Spanish mastermind Pablo Montoro, a chef who trained at the world-renowned El Bulli, and a man famed for his expertise in the kitchen. He was tasked with creating a menu that combined the best of both French and Spanish gastronomy, all to be presented with traditional La Imprenta flourish, of course. “We make traditional dishes with a Mediterranean and French mix but the staging is more fun and different,” he says.
By this, he means that even the dishes at La Imprenta are presented in an unconventional manner. The restaurant’s eggs mayonnaise comes in a specially-designed birds’ nest; the caviar comes atop an intricate black tile that eagle-eyed diners will spot elsewhere in the building; the ham is presented on its very own throne (also designed by Coelho) – every detail has been considered, which makes dining here a true feast for all the senses. “Jose Luis and Cristian had a clear idea of what they wanted to offer their customers,” explains Pablo. “I elaborated on their ideas and in the end, the menu was the result of perfect teamwork.”
Once the dining experience is over, many head to The Black Box, a cocktail bar that plays laid-back bossa nova beats while the barman rustles up a glass of prohibition-style decadence. According to head bartender Ricardo Fuggetta: “The Black Box is a new concept where the client will be able to try and taste new and different combinations. Thanks to infusion techniques and maceration, the drinks take on unique flavors and are presented in a particular way.” Indeed, the menu is adorned with taste-packing treasures like ‘Sensaciones de Mexico’, a drink combining mezcal, agave syrup, lime juice, guava and Fernet Branca; as well as old classics like the Mint Julep, the Manhattan and the Negroni.
At La Imprenta, every little detail has been considered, every corner perfectly curated, with every aspect of the food and cocktail menus presided over to ensure you experience the true essence of a French fine dining experience. “I’ve been here every day now,” says Ricardo, of the eatery he helped design. “I still don’t want to change a thing.” Which makes complete sense, because when a little corner of Ibiza town has been so convincingly transformed into a swanky Parisian hangout, it is a trans-European trip we all want to take.