The setting couldn’t be more picturesque if it tried: ascend the ancient stone ramp up to Ibiza Town’s UNESCO World Heritage site Dalt Vila and take a stroll along its cobbled main street Calle De Santa Creu, which is lined by historic townhouses, chic restaurants and boutiques. At the end of this bustling walkway and overlooking the postcard-perfect scenario you will find La Dispensa, a collective of four authentic Ibicencan buildings which have been lovingly turned into a unique and charming foodie destination.
Serving up a mouth-watering mix of traditional Spanish tapas, Italian fare and fresh sushi, guests do not only have the choice of picking from three different types of cousine, but also from which location they want to enjoy their meal (free tables permitting). Whether you prefer to eat al fresco on the terrace, or inside one of the three differently styled buildings, a fantastic experience awaits. Building number four, the Taller Creativo – a private dining space that is also a fashion boutique dripping with original creations, vintage finds and quirky decorations – is available for private hire. After a warm greeting by owners Jose Luis and Cristian, we were ushered to our table by our host for the night, the welcoming and attentive Ricardo.
For what we presume will be the first of many dinners this summer at La Dispensa – since we discovered this gourmet gem two years ago we have been dropping in for business meetings, romantic dinners and impromptu meals with friends on many an occasion – we decided to eat inside to escape the chilly April night, choosing the pretty monochrome dining room in the first building to the left when you approach La Dispensa’s mini empire. The design always gives us strong vibes of Alice In Wonderland meets The Great Gatsby with its black and white Art Deco ceiling, a place setting fixed to a mirror that, of course, hangs on the wall, and the eye-catching collection of illustrations. An eclectic soundtrack that ranges from vintage jazz to psychedelic pop and gospel songs completes the ambience of by-gone eras, while vast amounts of candles bathe the room in a golden glow.
The menu unfolds like a newspaper, and this year there are several exciting new additions, which we were all too eager to try. After choosing an elegant rose from the extensive wine list, which now features 80 varieties from France, Italy and Spain, we toasted the night with the fresh and fruity Rose Chic, a pale pink and light little number from Provence. Before ordering starters, we chose a selection of sushi dishes; innovative twists on old favourites and some unique creations you will only find at La Dispensa. The Vegetable Gyozas had a satisfying al dente texture and a skilfully grilled crunch to them before its creamy filling burst out of its shell, dressed with soy sauce and sweet seaweed salad they disappeared from the plate at lightning speed.
Another immediate table favourite was the Fresh Prawn gunkan, a roll filled with creamy gambas pate mixed with spring onions, Tobiko eggs and Japanese mayonnaise, wrapped neatly by refreshing cucumber slices. The flavoursome creamy filling was simply delicious, with the tiny orange fish eggs bursting in your mouth like savoury pooping candy. A new dish this year, the Ebitem roll was a heavenly combination of prawn, cream cheese and cucumber chunks, wrapped in succulent smoked salmon and topped with spicy wasabi.
For starters, we shared a luscious Burrata cheese, which immediately scored high points for its novelty factor – it was dressed in a Bloody Mary tomato sauce – and, accompanied by smoked aubergine caviar, also for its unique layers of flavour. This is a dish that you will find on many menus on the island, but La Dispensa’s version stands out with a spicy kick and addictively smokey taste sensation. Balancing out the creamy indulgence was a plate of Mussels Marinera in a ‘picante’ tomato and white wine sauce, each satisfyingly chewy bite tasting of the crystal clear sea that surrounds Ibiza. From the tapas selection, we shared a Parmigiana De Berenjenas, a lasagne style oven dish that combines healthy layers of eggplant slices with molten mozzarella and parmesan cheese in a tomato sauce, a delicious and decadent savoury treat.
Our eyes nearly popped out of our heads when the main courses arrived, so good did they look! Meat lovers will swoon over the juicy Beef Tenderloin, which was cooked to perfection, topped with creamy foie and served with caramelised melon balls. A loaf of polenta was both eye-catching – thanks to its black squid ink sauce – and satisfying, combining the solid texture of the dish with a crunchy contrast in the shape of delicious savoury parmesan crackers. Table favourite for this round, however, was a divine plate of Tagliatelle Con Langostinos Y Esparragos Verdes; al dente ribbons of pasta accompanied by lush green asparagus and crowned with a fresh langoustine, filled with delicate and sweet meat.
If you can believe that we still found room for a couple of desserts, even with our stomachs full to the brim we couldn’t resist a White Chocolate Brownie accompanied by pistachio ice cream, and a rich Chocolate Mousse dressed with red berries. A cheeky chupito of Midori Sour with hints of ginger later, and we left La Dispensa with rave reviews ready to be passed on to anyone who’d care to listen. ‘They just nail it every time,’ was the final verdict, a befitting description of hours of culinary joy and warm hospitality.