The Frenchman is one of those people who puts great store by awards and medals, so when we did a search of Mallorca's best restaurants, and saw that a restaurant called Koldo Royo had held a Michelin star for 18 years, it went straight to the top of our list. Run by a chef of the same name, Koldo Royo had gained rave reviews and was considered a flagship restaurant in Palma. I said that I was sure it had closed down a couple of years ago. Nonsense, said the Frenchman, showing me pages from the web with reviews and contact details for the restaurant.
We tried to book a table. The pleasant woman on the other end of the phone informed us that Koldo Royo had in fact closed in December 2008. But that it had re-opened as a tapas bar & restaurant, and was run by the same chef. The reincarnation is called Aquiara, and it has a tapas bar on the ground floor, and a restaurant for groups and banquets on the first floor. We booked a table.
Aquiara is located on the Passeig Matrim opposite the marina, sandwiched between an Irish pub and and a Burger King. Not the classiest of surroundings, the Frenchman dug in his heels and said that perhaps we should try somewhere else. Previous experience of wandering the streets for hours looking for a restaurant that was a) cool, b) had an interesting menu, and c) wasn't fully booked, made me drag him inside. The interior is modern and funky, and the little terrace out front is great for people-watching (if you can put up with the intermittent stream of traffic that flows past on the main road). The Frenchman and I took a seat by the large bay window, choosing the comfy armchair seats as opposed to the hard metal seats on the terrace. Menus arrived promptly and consisted of tapas, pintxos and varied skewers, with a choice of a proper main course of steak or fish for two persons.
The Frenchman was straight up to the bar to choose from the selection of pintxos on display and, good man, brought back a couple of beers. Our server delivered the pintxos he had chosen a few minutes later. A couple of anchovy wrapped olives with pickled chillies stabbed on to a skewer were utterly delicious - silky soft anchovy with not a hint of a bone. Thumbs up! Chorizo and pedron pepper on a slice of soft rustic bread disappeared very quickly, as did the ham and cheese mini croissant. Excellent quality ingredients with fresh breads made the pintxos complete winners.
We had ordered a variety of tapas from the menu. Guacamole with salmon and tortilla chips came in a lovely curved bowl – the avocado dip had been freshly made and was very smooth. The ‘prawn spit in crispy shell’ turned out to be battered, fried prawns on little wooden skewers served on a slate platter. The batter was indeed crispy, and enclosed big fat juicy prawns. Another excellent dish. A portion of croquettas – three cheese and three spinach – were smooth and creamy inside their crunchy exterior. More prawns, swimming in garlic oil this time, completed our order. Our server had pre-empted our request for bread, and we sopped up the oil until we could eat no more.
All in, the meal cost us €43. It’s a groovy little place, with pretty impressive tapas at reasonable prices. There is a well priced set menu at lunch time. The location is spot on – the terrace affords great opportunities to watch the world go by, and you are right on the main strip for late bars and nightclubs should you wish to indulge. Alternatively, just go with friends, crack open a bottle of wine (€10 to €15 a bottle) and dip in and out of the tapas menu. For a good feed in contemporary surroundings, Aquiara comes up trumps.
Tel: +34 971 732 435