Many years ago, soon after, I started reviewing restaurants for sister newspaper Ultimate HoraI went to an expensive place specializing in premium steaks.
Our starter was croquettes which were beautifully fried with a crispy exterior and without any trace of residual oil.
I would have given them a rating of 10 but for one essential detail that was missing: they were chicken nuggets but they didn’t taste like chicken.
This review appeared on a Sunday and I learned later that the next day at noon the owner, manager and chef sat down and tasted their own croquettes.
All three came to the same conclusion: the review was fair and their chicken croquettes didn’t taste like chicken. The chef set to work on a new recipe in which the taste of chicken was very present.
A few weeks later my son invited the family to a birthday lunch at this restaurant with a whole roast suckling pig as the main course and chicken nuggets as one of the appetizers.
This time the croquettes were perfect in every way and they tasted like chicken. I wasn’t commenting on this meal, but if I had, I would have given the croquettes a 10.
Something similar must have happened at Hotel Palma Blanc in Ramón y Cajal street. I had a meal there at the end of July where the fries were hard and inedible.
They had been prepared with a variety of potatoes which is the worst I have ever come across. In my July 29 review, I wrote: “The chips were a total failure. But it was the potatoes that were at fault, not the cooks.
Last week I returned to Palma Blanc to try their €20 menú del día, served Monday to Friday with dishes that change daily. I had phoned to find out what was on the menu that day and the dishes were mouth watering.
I was also looking forward to ordering a portion of fries on the side to see if cooks are now using a potato variety that is suitable for frying.
When the small plate of fries arrived I could tell just by looking at them that they were going to be very good. But they were actually much better than that: they were perfect.
They were burning your tongue and that meant they had been pre-fried and then a final dip in oil at around 200C before being sent to the table.
They were whitish rather than golden, but they also had a crispy finish and some parts of them were positively crispy. There was no trace of residual oil.
First time fries were undercooked, hard and inedible, but last week’s inside was deliciously soft.
I felt like they were triple baked, like Heston Blumenthal does at Fat Duck in Bray (Berkshire).
Raw fried potatoes are first boiled in salted water for three to 10 minutes or more, depending on the cook’s preference. They are left to cool and then fried at about 170°C until they float on the surface of the oil. The chips are set aside until use and are subjected to a final bath at 200°C until they take on a whitish to dark golden color.
It’s not difficult to fry really good fries, even in a busy restaurant. He just needs the right kind of potato and a cook who knows perfect fries are part of his daily chores.
Last week’s fries at Hotel Palma Blanc restaurant were worth a 10 rating — and as many gold medals as there are chips in a €5 portion.
Lots of great choices including fish and meat and delicious desserts. And perfect chips with a rating of 10.
Whenever necessary, I have no qualms about saying a dish isn’t up to par and will even add where the cook went wrong and how he can fix things. Since I don’t usually return immediately to restaurants, I don’t know if the kitchen took my advice into account. So it was very satisfying to return to the Hotel Palma Blanc restaurant after only three weeks to see that the previously inedible fries are now absolutely perfect and worth a 10.
Palma Blanc and its customers deserve the best fries in town and I’m glad they have them now. We tasted four dishes and two desserts and were more than satisfied with each one. A cold cream of carrots flavored with orange, ginger and lemongrass was a light and delicious way to start a summer meal. The tagliatelle finished in a creamy sauce made with caramelized onions, bacon and shelled prawns, was another starter that set the taste buds in motion. A chicken red curry with pineapple and couscous was deliciously spicy and the couscous grains were well cooked and separated.
A thick fillet of John Dory was finished with a ‘mallorquina’ style dressing and was a lovely dish. A yoghurt mousse with apricot jam and a thin bar of white chocolate was a particularly fine dessert and three scoops of strawberry ice cream really tasted like strawberries.
Hotel Palma Blanc, Calle Ramón y Cajal 12, Palma. Tel: 971-007009. The dining room is large but it is best to book, especially if you want to eat on the open-air interior patio.
THE LAW PROJECT
The menú del día from Monday to Friday costs €20 and includes a caña, a glass of wine or water. The menu changes daily. We had a €5 portion of fries so the bill for two was €45 including VAT.