A determined effort by the island’s government to preserve traditional small-scale agriculture explains why the Menorcan larder is so rich with high-quality produce. In addition to citrus fruit and sun-ripened vegetables, the olive oil is excellent, as are the wines, while the Mahón cheese made from raw milk on island farms is prized all over Spain. Small fishing boats land their catch daily in Ciutadella and Mahón, which is why the seafood in many restaurants is exceptional. Perhaps the island’s most famous dish is caldereta de llagosta, rock lobster caught along the island’s craggy shoreline cooked in a tomato-rich bouillon. Sobrassada, a soft pork sausage flavored with paprika, is another local favorite, but the Menorcan staple that has gone on to achieve international popularity is a condiment, mayonnaise, which was purportedly invented here in 1756 to celebrate a French naval victory, and which was originally known as “Mahón-aise.”
Today, the beauty of Menorca, its growing number of sophisticated visitors and the island’s superb produce are attracting talented young chefs, which has created a vibrant restaurant scene, especially in Ciutadella.
Ca Na Pilar Restaurant
Young chef Victor Lidón started cooking in his family’s restaurant when he was 16, and then worked in Barcelona and London before becoming head chef at Michelin three-star El Racó de Can Fabes (near Barcelona) under the direction of chef Santi Santamaría. When the restaurant closed, he decided to return to Menorca. He has since transformed his family’s tavern into one of the most charming restaurants on the island. The menu changes with the seasons but offers dishes like foie gras with a pumpkin tartlet, grilled catch-of-the-day fish with black eggplant and a sauce vierge, and coconut foam with curry ice cream.