I bumped into a friend on my flight back from Menorca recently. I was very tired and so I squinted, but no, sure enough it was Will. And he reminded me how much he loved Menorca, and how he had got married there. He visits all the time, and all I could think was, yes, of course you do. It is such a lovely place. Surprisingly so, and not because it isn’t lovely, it is, but because it feels so untainted by tourism. Aren’t all of the lovely places already very busy?
This little island tucked towards the end of Europe also has so much to offer for the food and drink obsessive, and I had no idea until I went. They never needed to tell us as Menorca had a strong leather industry so tourism wasn’t a focus. Instead, everyone went to Mallorca & Ibiza next door. That is changing now and tourism is becoming more of a thing as we all start to notice that it is beautiful, very close and has wonderful food too. In peak season it is busy I am sure, but I visited just as the season was kicking off and it was sleepy and calm.
In Menorca expect some familiar items from Spain and neighbouring Balearic islands, but there are dishes and ingredients unique to here too. Mahon cheese, Menorcan sobrasada and lots of wonderful seafood made my trip.
WHERE TO EAT, DRINK & SLEEP IN MENORCA
The beauty of a small island is a small airport and short stress free journey from there to where ever you want to go. It was a welcome contrast to my London departure. I went from the airport to the local market (Mercat Femenias) where I started my trip with lunch and music. I watched the band play and the people dance while I ate as much jamon as I could (I adore jamon!), drank gazpacho, procured some fried squid and had a cheeky glass of local white wine. Menorca already promised much.
Our second meal was at Can Bernat des Grau Menorca in Mahon. Specialising in seafood, the food here is rustic and very local. Razor clams were fresh and tender, so lovely, fresh prawns were bright and sweet. Whole fish served with steak, fried eggs, and fries peppered with roast whole cloves of garlic was an intense and terrific sharing plate. Surf and a whole lot of turf. I recommend the Binitord white wine to go with.
Es Cranc in Fornells is a must for one of the islands best Caldereta de Langosta (Lobster Soup). Fresh caught in the local waters and delivered direct to water baths in the restaurant, this tomato based soup is the dish that you must have in Menorca if only having one. It isn’t cheap (it is all lobster), but it is wonderful. Read more about Es Cranc in a previous post on Eat Like a Girl.
Restaurant El Trebol on the seafront in Mahon is a charming family run restaurant serving some of the best food that I had in Menorca. Again, it is all about the seafood and the offering is seasonal. We had broad beans with Menorcan sobrasada, artichokes with squid, asparagus with prawns and squidgy intense sea anemones. A gin sorbet made with Menorcan gin makes the perfect finish.
Restaurant Cap Roig outside of Mahon on the sea is another lovely seafood restaurant with a terrific view from its perch on a hill. Aim to eat at sunset or just before. The fish is whatever is fresh on the day, squid with sobrasada and monkfish tail on my visit. Lovely.
Menorcan pastries are essential, particularly the sobrsada ensaiamada, a lard based pastry filled with spiced sobrasada sausage and dusted with sugar. Unforgettable. There are chocolate, pumpkin, cream and custard ensaimadas also. One of the best in the island is made by Cas Sucrer but you can get them everywhere.
A bar built into the side of a cliff with a sheer drop below seemed terrifying when I first heard of it, however, Cova d’en xoroi is spectacular and is the perfect place for a sunset drink. It is a nightclub also, but I will leave that to you, until I return.
Hotel Rey Carlos III is in a great location overlooking Mahon harbour with wifi, wonderful service, smart modern rooms and good breakfast.
Come back soon for my next post on the cheese & wine of Menorca and where to go to taste it. Also, please leave any tips you might have in the comments below – thank you!
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