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A trip down culinary memory lane

This little slice of Breville-grilled goodness – cleverly served up on the side of a delicate white onion soup starter – is just one of the many ways head chef Lee Milne uses nostalgia to entice diners into the world of culinary flair and flavour at Room 39 at Pikes, and it’s a tactic that’s proven to be successful in the recently revamped restaurant in summer 2018. Milne and his highly skilled team of professional chefs are all classically trained – many boasting Michelin level backgrounds – and their philosophy is to create hearty, honest food made from local ingredients with a contemporary twist, complemented by that little touch of nostalgia. Think flavour-filled gastro-cooking but without all the unnecessary fuss! Take the 11-spiced cauliflower for example – Milne wanted to create a vegetarian starter that packed a lot of punch and took inspiration from the guilty pleasure of the Colonel’s secret herbs and spices to create these mouth-watering morsels with smoked alioli that are almost too good to share.

The smoked ham hock and foie gras ballotine is a dish that takes more than two weeks in the making – from the moment the chefs begin pickling their very own homemade piccalilli (“We’re in trouble if we suddenly run out,” laughs Milne when explaining the process). As ham hock is not readily available in Spain, the chefs brine, slow-cook and strip the meat themselves, before reforming it around a cylinder of buttery foie gras. There’s a taste of the 1980s in there somewhere, fused with the sweetness of local figs and a port reduction. For Spanish diners, the nostalgia comes via the grilled octopus – a dish that is a nod to the classic Galician dish yet given a modern twist by being served on a pillow of aerated potato instead of the typical waxy boiled slices.

When the time comes to order your main meal, happy childhood memories are evoked through dishes such as the glazed pig cheeks, served with the traditionally British combo of bubble and squeak and instead of apple sauce, crispy chunks of Granny Smith Apple – topped with the kind of crackling you’d fight your siblings for at the dinner table. A selection of classics – the Pikes cheeseburger (which has a veggie cousin, the Beetroot & Quinoa Burger), the melt-in-your-mouth beef fillet served with pressed potato and mini Mediterranean vegetables and pan-fried wild sea bass with prawn butter – sates the appetites of the über-hungry or fussy eaters amongst your group (there’s always one!). Allowing the true flavours of the produce to shine is the sign of a great chef – rather than showing off with garnishes or foams, it’s just about cooking everything until it’s j-u-u-s-t right.

There’s an old wives’ tale that tells of people possessing a separate stomach for dessert – and when you’ve feasted your eyes on the Pikes menu, you’ll be hoping this is indeed true. This season’s hit sweet dish at the restaurant is the Egg Custard Tart – yep, there’s that nostalgia again – but be warned: this is not your average custard tart by any means. Each next-level tart takes more than 24 hours to create, with about as much love poured into the bowl as eggs! Hand-grated fresh nutmeg is the finishing touch before the tart is individually sliced and served with poached rhubarb and a homemade macaroon. One mouthful and you’ll be back in grandma’s kitchen in seconds… and quite possibly ordering seconds at the same time.

In another clever nod to the all-time classics, the coconut and pineapple baked Alaska has been given an upgrade in the Pikes kitchen. Made with pineapple parfait and toasted Italian meringue, it’s then blow-torched until it reaches the perfect hedgehog-like caramelised appearance, and served with coconut ice cream for two. Nothing beats tapping into the crispy shell to discover the sweet and fruity goodness oozing from inside… and if you’re too young to remember the original, never mind! You can still appreciate why the original became a classic in the first place. Taking your tastebuds on a trip down memory lane has never been easier – simply reserve a table at Room 39 and let the dishes do all the talking.

Open Kitchen at Pikes

Everyone is welcome, and invited to bring their best ideas, banter, behaviour, skills and talents to the table, making the iconic hotel a melting pot of creativity and style. In 2017, the hotel’s in-house restaurant Room 39 takes this idea to the next level, with the introduction of Pikes Open Kitchen – an all-new concept where head chef Lee Milne steps away from his post for a night (after all, chefs need their beauty sleep) and a guest chef is invited to take over. “The idea is that we can open up our kitchen and become a platform to showcase new ideas in food,” explains Pikes Food and Beverage Manager Steve Hughes. “A big part of the Pikes ‘personality’ has always been collaborating on ideas with other people, and by default with Pikes Open Kitchen, our own menu will grow. It means we’re not limited to just one type of food – it’s about making food people will enjoy.” He cites the UK’s ever-evolving culture of gastronomy as inspiration, in addition to working with the island’s limited seasonal produce, while Milne sees Pike Open Kitchen as the chance to learn new things from outside influencers.

The revolving roster of pop-up events throughout the season is guaranteed to get any Ibiza foodie’s mouth-watering in anticipation. The very first event was hosted at the end of June – a sell-out edition of the Music Supper Club concept – and set the bar high for the months ahead. The feel-good event took guests on a global spice trail, presenting fiery dishes from India, Pakistan, Jamaica and the West Indies, all the while raising funds and awareness for the homeless in Ibiza. The brainchild of local healer and ‘earth mama’ Selina Ingram, who tirelessly cares for the homeless, the event saw locals and visitors taste buds tantalised by the three-course meal, followed by a fun night out in the much-loved establishment, all happy in the knowledge that 25-percent of the profits would be donated to charity. Two more Music Supper Clubs are in the calendar at Pikes this summer, taking place on July 27 and September 7, 2017. White Ibiza blogger Miss W did her bit by feasting for a good cause at the debut event – to read more about the overall experience, click here to read her latest post.

Depending on where you live, street food is either a major part of your daily life, or a trend that’s taking your local city by storm, however here in Ibiza the street food craze hasn’t quite taken off yet due to local regulations for food trucks and lack of appropriate venues. Enter Vietvan at Pikes on September 21, 2017 – bringing authentic, fresh and fabulous Vietnamese flavours to the Balearics for one night only. Founders of Vietvan, Nick and Tracy, first discovered their passion for Vietnamese cuisine while travelling and after being trained firsthand by street food vendors, they returned to London ready to unleash their newfound skills on the city. It wasn’t long before they’d established themselves as successful private caterers, regulars on the London market scene and collaborating with brands such as London Fashion Week, Kate Moss Agency and Boxpark among others on private events. It made sense for the duo to work with Pikes when they were searching for an Ibiza venue – the edgy and stylish brand along with its cool clientele ticking all the right boxes. Expect a traditional menu including caramelised chicken, lemongrass pork and chilli and pepper tofu, with all fillings served in the classic Vietnamese banh mi style (in a baguette) or with salad and topped with the freshest, zingiest Vietnamese garnishes.

After a successful string of pop-up events under his ‘Meatopia’ banner in 2016, chef Richard Turner of Hawksmoor fame returns to Pikes in 2017 for even more meaty marvelousness. A bespoke barbecue in the fairytale gardens of Pikes, Turner creates delicious rubs, smokes and marinades and dedicates hours and hours to grilling meat to perfection. It’s a little bit medieval, a whole lotta rock and roll. Just remember his mantra: Eat meat. Sleep. Repeat. You can read more about the events last year here – just be warned. The pictures may make you accidentally drool on your screen. Local chefs too, have been invited to take part in the Pikes Open Kitchen concept, with the first being much-loved island resident Anne Sijmonsbergen – author of The Eivissa Cookbook and known by the nickname ‘Organic Annie’. Passionate about promoting farm-to-table produce and preserving island culinary trends and traditions, you can expect healthy, flavour-filled plates showcasing the very best ingredients plucked directly from island sea and soil. Dates currently to be confirmed for Turner and Sijmonsbergen’s pop-ups – keep your eyes on the weekly White Ibiza calendar for news of when to reserve your table.

In true Pikes style, each pop-up event will be accompanied by a host of Ibiza entertainment, classic Pikes hijinks and sound-tracked by the who’s who of DJ talent. There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ night at Pikes – each and every night hosts a completely unique adventure, fuelled by the personality and tastes of guests alongside the hosts and regulars. Of course, if you don’t happen to be in Ibiza for any of the above pop-up events, Room 39 is also open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The come one, come all ethos is preserved to this day. Whether you’re loading up with a full English breakfast and a Bloody Mary before hitting the beach, tucking into some poolside tapas dishes in the afternoon, sitting down to dine family style by night or indulging in the island’s undisputed, finest Sunday roast, diners are always welcomed into the Pikes fold as if they were old family friends. As Hughes succinctly puts it: “There’s a reason to come back every week!”

Food for thought

No matter what your Ibiza tastes lean towards, Pike is an Ibiza institution. Eclectic chic accommodation, the island’s best parties, poolside cocktails, fancy dress and bathtub karaoke… those are the things you’ll read about on Trip Adviser or in the press, but there’s another piece to the Pikes puzzle that is fast earning its place with all of the above. And it’s here where ‘tastes’ really do come into play. Room 39 is the in-house restaurant at the legendary boutique hotel, and unbeknownst to many, you don’t need a room reservation to enjoy its culinary magic. From early morning breakfasts (including the best full English on the island, according to those in the know) and lazy lunches, through to late afternoon poolside snacks and divine dinners, everyone is welcome. The dawn of the 2017 summer season has seen Room 39 – under the expert guidance of Food and Beverage Manager Steve Hughes and head chef Lee Milne – hone its menu concept to complement the hotel’s relaxed, fun ambience and international clientele.

“The concept this year is very much based on smaller plates designed to share,” says Milne. “We work with a lot of seasonal produce so we have more specials, more fun and by nature, it’s more social.” Unlike other busy Ibiza restaurants, Room 39 doesn’t turn over tables twice nightly in order to maximise bookings – they’d prefer you linger longer, savour the flavours and really enjoy everything on offer. “Smaller dishes mean you don’t have to be committed to just one plate for the night,” explains Hughes of the concept. “You can try a little bit of everything, and eat slowly over a few hours.” This change in dining style was prompted by seeing the way clients would really relish eating family style over a big table in previous years. With many large bookings on a nightly basis, as partygoers fuel up for the night ahead, the team knew it would be easier to cater to big groups with an a la carte menu designed to share, rather than hold the service up with huge complicated orders. “We realised people love slow dining, sharing, grazing and picking and so we’ve devised a menu that brings in many elements from the hotel’s heritage; typically English dishes, Spanish tapas and Tony’s Australian touches,” says Hughes. “The menu works for everyone – it’s a Mediterranean, family style service.”

Absolutely every dish that comes out of Milne’s kitchen is beautifully presented beautifully, prompting an “I’ll have what she’s having” mentality with restaurant guests. Now in his third season in the kitchen, the chef has really come into his own with behind the scenes techniques including in-house fermenting and smoking breathing new life into classic dishes. Expect vibrant colours, pure flavours and as much local produce as possible. Milne personally visits the fishmongers and farmers on a daily basis to choose his produce for the day and night ahead. “I absolutely love it,” he says, also hinting there are plans afoot for a Pikes veggie garden next season. “That’s why we work with daily specials, incorporating the best of what we find on the day.” The main menu is designed around the concept of five starters, five mains and five desserts, with the idea that three to four (in any combination) would be perfect for one person. Standouts include the 11-spice cauliflower (the chef’s own take on KFC – upgrading the colonel’s secret herbs upgrading them into a delicious vegetarian dish), the mouth wateringly rich pork secreto, a 48-day aged fillet of beef and Milne’s own personal favourite, the nine-hour slow roasted octopus – a bright pink tentacle served whole, bursting with the pure and natural flavours of the Med.

Nostalgia plays a part in the Pikes kitchen too, and born and bred Brits will relish the chance to tuck into savoury faggots (with lamb and vegetarian options available), bringing back memories of childhood dinners, with desserts to match. And of course, as is Pikes tradition, Sunday roasts remain a staple – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! “A Sunday roast at Pikes matches any home cooked version,” says Hughes, who says it’s not just the food on a Sunday that makes it special – it’s the feeling of being embraced into the Pikes family. Dawn Hindle, Pikes creative director sees this nostalgia as key to the restaurant’s continued success. “People come back here year after year, and they’ll see Steve and feel like they’re coming back into his home. He’s always been here to welcome them –that feeling of though you’re staying in someone’s house is all part of our ethos.” Milne talks of similar experiences, with many of the restaurant guests he’s met over the past three years going on to become good friends – not just with himself and his team, but even with his wife and children.

This year has also seen the wine list at Room 39 undergo an impressive revamp, with the introduction of many high-end Spanish drops now available by the glass. “There’s a huge wine culture in Spain that isn’t well-known globally,” says Hughes. “And just like with cuisine, people seek out local wines when on holiday. Depending on the dish you’re eating, we can recommend the perfect glass to accompany it. It may be 80€ a bottle, which can often make people curious, but cautious. Now, you don’t have to commit, because you can try just one glass first, and a different one after that. Or you could take the whole bottle if you like it!” Thursday nights at Room 39 see Milne take a step back and let guest chefs into his domain, with the launch of Pikes Open Kitchen. “These pop-ups are really exciting,” he says. “We get to learn from people from all around the world and our menu will continue to evolve organically.” And while he may be the brains behind Room 39 alongside Hindle and Hughes, he is very quick to pass credit where credit is due – to his kitchen staff. “I can be the face and come up with the dishes,” he says. “But the guys in the kitchen are the ones who make a difference to our customers, night after night.”

Visit the White Ibiza hotels guide to read more and reserve a table at Room 39 at Pikes
Meatopia – Warning! NSFV

I couldn’t believe it when I first saw the invitation to the Meatopia event at Pikes at Ibiza Rocks House. I had to stop and wonder if someone was playing a joke on me. Because in this day and age of veganism, macrobiotic diets, conscious cooking and health awareness, the good old fashioned slab of meat gets a little too overlooked for my liking. And this invitation showed a picture of a giant, marbled steak that made my mouth water before I’d even read the words.

Whoa, vegans! Didn’t I ask you not to read ahead? I can almost hear your backlash as I type. Now please note before I go any further, I respect your choices to be vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, whatever-atarian. I really do. And so I hope, even if you disagree with my choices, you can still respect that they are indeed my own. Now seriously guys… look away. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. So as I was saying, there was this invitation. MEATOPIA Eat meat Sleep Repeat

It was like my carnivorous dream come true. Anyone who knows me will know I am partial to a little bit of… oh, ok A LOT of meat in my diet. I’m the kind of person who has to stop at the McDonald’s drive thru on the way home after having dinner at a vegetarian’s house for my meat fix. I simply do not understand the point of ordering a curry, stir-fry or noodle dish if it does not have meat in eat. I do not believe that tofu or Portobello mushrooms can substitute in any way for a steak. I think pizza is weird if it doesn’t have ham or pepperoni on it. Even simple pasta dishes have got to at least have some bacon in them or I feel totally unsatisfied afterwards. (By the way, vegans, if you’re still reading – please, no judgement. I told you to look away!) Recently, I felt completely depleted of energy and I just couldn’t understand why. I went to see my lovely Chinese Herbal Medicine doctor and she promptly prescribed 10 days of eating red meat to get me back to good health! It’s not me, it’s my blood type. Apparently. Though I don’t feel like I should have to justify it in any way. I really do need to eat meat every day, or I get edgy, tired and pretty darn hungry. (Though I must admit I am open to meat-free Mondays since Paul and Stella make such a valid argument for saving the planet. Probably best if it’s said Mondays are spend hungover and dying in bed without consuming much more than a slice of toast then.)

ANYWAY. I digress. Meatopia. It was everything I had ever dreamed of and more. A bespoke barbecue in the fairytale back gardens of Pikes – my favourite place IN THE WORLD (also the first place I ever stayed in Ibiza, many moons ago). Multi-award winning chef Richard H Turner – whose barbecue I had drooled over (not literally) at last year’s Groucho party but didn’t get to sample – was planning to prepare five different types of meat. There were a bunch of side dishes listed on the menu too, but I couldn’t get past the giant lettering that just said: M E A T. Oh – and the soundtrack was going to be provided by one of my favourite artists, Bushwacka! and it was going to be all about old school hip hop and breaks. Seriously. It was like someone had cyber stalked me, found all of my favourite things (minus my cat) and put them into one room. I counted down the days. I deliberated about whether to starve myself all day in preparation, or to graze and slowly stretch my stomach for the feast that lay ahead. The event started at 8pm and at 7.30pm I was getting edgy and antsy. We had to hit the road. I had to be the first person in front of this custom made barbecue I’d been dreaming about. So my friend – le’s call him Mr B – and I zipped up the highway, probably breaking a few speeding laws in anticipation… and then there we were. Pikes at Ibiza Rocks House.

As we stepped through the garden and were greeted with a (very British, and also very delicious) cocktail, my nostrils flared up like a hunting dog. There were spices in the air. There was juicy, crispy skin crackling. Thick, delicious meaty juices were flowing…. And then I saw her. The mother of all barbecues. A big brick structure built right into the ground, with carefully selected wood burning at ground level, oh-so-slowly smoking and cooking the payes chicken, rib eye beef, pork belly ribs and more meaty deliciousness above. And there HE was. The king. Richard H Turner, who had been slaving away over the hot barbecue since 10am that very morning in a quest to deliver the tenderest of meats, the most succulent of sausages and the most flavour-filled filets to his followers. The medieval style apron gave him an air of authority. He wielded his tongs and knives like an artist. It was magical to watch, and tantalising to smell. I was finding it really hard to be polite and make small talk. All I wanted to do was get stuck in!

When the time came, I was not disappointed. Every last mouthful was a savoury sensation. Clinched rib eye of beef. Spit roast lamb. Slow grilled pork belly ribs. Grilled quail with chorizo. jerk chicken and mushrooms – and let me just make a point here, in a little vegetable’s defence, that every single diner on my table was in agreement that those mushrooms were the finest tasting mushrooms we had ever eaten, even as good as the meat accompanying it! While some might presume all that meat was too heavy for a meal, the carefully thought out side dishes served as the perfect light palate cleansers – ranging from a baked beetroot salad, the best Caesar I have ever tasted and an amazing green chilli slaw to escarole with anchovy cream and homemade baked beans. I was in heaven. And of course, a lovely drop of vino tinto didn’t go astray to wash it all down. One of the finest feasts of my Ibiza lifetime, to say the very least. Of course, I know it’s not for everyone. I’m sure the organisers know it’s not for everyone. The event is called Meatopia after all! It’s not about discrimination to those who don’t eat meat… it’s about catering specifically to those (like me!) who do. If you don’t eat meat (why are you still reading?), don’t book a table. If you do, then I cannot recommend this highly enough. There are four more events this season… and I will be reserving my place by the barbeque for all of them!

Visit the White Ibiza hotels guide to read more about Pikes Ibiza
Meet the chef – Ferial K

Ferial K is one such chef, showcasing her North African inspired cuisine concept with her guest chef residency every Saturday at the iconic Pikes at Ibiza Rocks House. Upon biting into Ferial K’s delicious cuisine, you’ll instantly realise it’s full of passion and creativity. Having crossed the globe during her travels, she has amassed the very best spices, flavours, colours, textures and cooking styles known to gastronomy and has the ability to wow anyone who’s lucky enough to be a guest at her dinner table this summer.

Tell us a little about your experience? I haven’t always been a ‘chef’, but I’ve always loved to cook. Even when I was doing another job, I was always been the first one to cook for my friends, even 20 to 30 people, and I was never afraid of this. I love to travel, and from living in Africa and backpacking for pleasure I totally fell in love with local markets because of the colours, the food, the smells, the spices – it all inspires me and I am so curious. I completed some cooking courses, and I worked some internships, but the best cooking course I ever did was stay in the homes of local people where my hosts were cooking, so I could learn their style and their flavours. I’ve never been to school, but I’m self-taught from all over the world. Is it true you were a guest at Freddie Mercury’s famous birthday bash at Pikes? It was the best party ever! Oh la la, it was fantastic! By luck, we were invited, and there were around 200 guests at Pikes, and at the end of the party my friend and I were invited to stay for a drink so I got to meet Freddie away from all the crowds. He was so sweet and friendly, and as I was a teenager at the time, this was a big deal. What’s the story behind being invited back to guest chef so many years later? I was cooking a dinner for some guests and [owner] Dawn Hindle had been invited. After the dinner, she asked me to call her the next day, and she proposed I do Cous Cous Club at the restaurant at Pikes at Ibiza Rocks House.

What is the inspiration behind the cuisine concept? Cous cous is an iconic food where I am from, and I am proud to create this food coming from my North African origins. I get to play with my creativity and I always love to experiment in my cooking. I play with texture, taste and smell so I created this menu – it was originally for fun, but after certain people had sampled the food, I was asked to expand and return to the concept. Any special flavours or tastes that standout? Because I’ve always been curious about food and going to markets, being creative is so important to me. If a vegetable is talking to me, I will create something very interesting. You see, I am an artist – I draw with my food, I draw the texture and the taste because it is all an inspiration. You’ll experience the freshest vegetables served in a variety of ways, fragrant spices, the freshest herbs, different adaptions using coconut and sweet flavours like vanilla. It’s my imagination and it is my art.

How do you describe your style in the kitchen? First of all, I draw my food. I do creation by drawing, you will see this on my menus [The Cous Cous Club menu in showcases illustrations of the dishes by Ferial]. I’m a pleasant and passionate chef. It is all about professionalism, smiling and a positive attitude. Also, silence in the kitchen with no shouting, unless we receive or speak an order. I must give a special mention to the team at Pikes, it’s been a pleasure to work with them, everyone is always smiling and very talented. What is your signature dish? I don’t have a signature dish. I try to know my clients so well and understand what they want and cook according to this. I create an amazing menu that my clients will love – this is my signature. A menu that always fits them and that they will enjoy.

What do you love about working and living in Ibiza? Obviously because it is paradise. Yes we fall in love with the island, but more, we fall in love with the atmosphere and energy. This is why I’ve been here such a long time. I am so happy that my family brought me here when I was little because to grow up here, and now to work and live here, is a big, big privilege. I am also a private chef, so I work on yachts, in villas, and at big events. I love this because I get to meet such amazing people, and characters. Particularly, I have a group of clients who have supported me since the beginning, who have grown with me and supported my creativity as an artist and are always there when I create something new. This is so special for me. What is your favourite place to eat in Ibiza? Can Balafia! It is simple but always so amazing. I’ve been coming to this place for so many years. Everything is fresh from the garden, and the meat always perfectly cooked. It’s simple and Spanish, and this is why I love it. But of course… the island is full of places; it’s hard to choose just one!

Visit the White Ibiza restaurants guide to read more and reserve a table at Room 39 at Pikes