Walking towards the ramp that takes you behind the century old walls we pass a barbecue in the square, pipers delivering a rousing performance for a large gathered crowd and there are market stalls showcasing the array of artisanal talent that lives on the island. The weather is playing games, offering a dark grey background to proceedings but no one seems to mind. As we walk into the battlements, there is a crowd watching a blacksmith with an open fire working away on a stubborn piece of metal. The festival atmosphere is contagious and the narrow cobbled streets of Dalt Vila are packed.
We are heading to Santa Creu Street, one of the most delightful of the promenade streets that pepper the world heritage site. With various dining options on either side as well as boutiques offering unique mementos of your time on the island run by shop owners that have been there for decades, you can’t help but let your mind wander back in time. La Dispensa is the brain child of partners José Luis and Christian, neither of whom has a restaurant background, but both of whom have an active imagination, an attention to detail and a warmth that makes them instantly likeable. Inspiration for La Dispensa was taken from some of the world’s major cities while travelling, resulting in a stunning dining experience spread across four individual areas along various parts of Santa Creu Street, offering al fresco tables, a vibrant inside space or a romantic and tranquil space and a sushi bar, depending on your mood. There’s even a shop, where you can also eat and buy anything surrounding you. José Luis tells us that they can accommodate up to 160 diners at a time and last summer they had 17,000 people pass through and enjoy the carefully thought out menu, a figure they are hoping to push towards 30,000 this summer.
The options don’t stop at the venue either, the delicious Italian menu has strong Mediterranean influences and there is a mouth-watering sushi option, each option can be enjoyed in whichever part of La Dispensa takes your fancy. The first space you pass on your way up the narrow street offers a high ceiling and a wall of goodies that demands your attention from the minute you enter. Curiously shaped bowls filled with a variety of pasta shapes, a range of olive oil and a variety of other goodies ready to make your own cooking experience that bit more special. There is an outside area where you can enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the Dalt Vila and partake in one of our favourite past times, people watching. La Dispensa is located in a fascinating part of Dalt Vila, tourists pass through but locals that live and work there are also evident making there way to work, each with their own fascinating story.
The second space, previously a clothes shop, is located slightly further up the hill, diagonally opposite, with its own elevated terrace. Inside is the picture of elegance; white walls covered in huge mirrors and framed pictures, with tiled floor and magnificent lighting, giving the room a real sense of grandeur. For those looking for something special there is a cave like room towards the back that you step down into, with thick velvet curtains for privacy and lights that offer a porthole deep into the thick rock. If you carry on up the street you come to the Sushi bar, an intimate space and home to La Dispensa’s flambé sushi, fast becoming a popular delicacy in the Dalt Vila. Not the first thing you might mention for a restaurant but each venue also boasts spectacular toilet facilities!
We opt for the elevated terrace outside of space number two, giving us the perfect vantage point to soak up everything that is going on. Every member of staff is friendly and welcoming, we chat with manager Sonia before taking our seats and find out that she was born in Ibiza, although her perfect English gives away a time spent in the UK and we are impressed to hear her father used to be the goalkeeper for Spanish La Liga football club Valencia! Looking after us for the night is Italian duo Litterio and Sylvia, who couldn’t have been more helpful, from offering advice on the menu to making sure our glasses were constantly full and offering entertaining chat in between courses, it really added to our experience. We left the dish choices to the experts and they started off with a couple from the sushi bar – La Dispensa roll and the spicy tuna – both offering an amazing flavour combination, the flambé process living up to its reputation. Our diary is already marked for a return to check out the Sushi bar fully!
We take a breather for 10 minutes to take in our surroundings, day has eased into night, where the sky goes a deep blue before dark and the streets come alive with people either on their way home or going to work. It’s one of our favourite parts of the day and even better experienced in the heart of Dalt Vila. The next two main courses again offer an insight into the depth the La Dispensa menu – sea bream with capers, black olives and fresh tomato with white wine and rack of lamb in a Provenzal crust with pont neuf potato. The fish is cooked in a paper, which is unwrapped at the table, adding some theatre to the meal and unveiling a stunning piece of fish, with a mouth-watering aroma. It was light, melted in the mouth and not too strong. The lamb was a personal favourite, the juicy meat and the crunchy crust offering a combination of textures, with the meat itself almost dissolving in the mouth. The perfect end to the savoury part of our meal.
We bring our first visit to La Dispensa to an end with a selection of desserts – panacota with strawberries, creamy yoghurt and white chocolate with berries, brownie of white chocolate with pistachio nut and pistachio ice cream. It seems a bit over the top as we have already enjoyed several delightful dishes but when it comes to the sweet stuff, everyone can always find a little extra space. The white chocolate brownie and pistachio ice cream is an unusual combination but it works perfectly and the panacota is light and sweet but it is the creamy yoghurt with berries that scoops the prize, offering a strangely addictive flavor and texture that I could easily still be sitting eating now! It was a fitting finale to an amazing evening. We were introduced to a dining experience that we highly recommend to anyone that enjoys great food in a great location and with great company. La Dispensa feels like a family affair, everyone working together to make sure every customer is made welcome and even more so, a part of the extended family. Add the spectacular surroundings and the fact that you can choose from several locations within easy reach of each other and La Dispensa is a must! Ibiza is blessed with many world class operators offering a sublime dining experience, we’re delighted to have discovered another.
Fuente: Essential Ibiza