When I had these inedible fries at the strikingly beautiful and architecturally beautiful Hotel Palma Blanc, one of the waitresses I complained to mentioned that the fries at Café Pino in Paseo Mallorca are worth having. to be tried. I had a very good meal at Café Pino a few years ago and I remembered that the fries were delicious and especially memorable.
Last week I went to Cafe Pino to see the menu and reserve a table. Their new menu is simpler and doesn’t have their usual portion of fries. I asked about this and a waitress said they always made a portion of fries so I reserved a table for the next day. She asked for my phone number but I said I never give it when booking. She hesitated about it, but accepted the reservation as if she was doing me a great favor.
People in the business tell me that a fairly high proportion of those who make reservations do not show up and call to cancel the reservation. People at the restaurant believe that having your phone number makes you more likely to show up…or at least call in with a cancellation. If I can’t come (which is very rare), I always phone to let them know.
The next day I was there earlier than the reservation time because I wanted to eat inside (they have air conditioning) and find a table near a window which is better for taking pictures. But the tables in this part of the dining room are the high ones with high chairs I find far too uncomfortable. I ended up at an ordinary table near the door where the lighting was only passable.
As I pulled things out of my bag and basket before sitting down, I realized the background music volume was way too high for comfort. I asked a waitress to please turn it down because I go to a restaurant to eat and talk, not to listen to music. But the background music remained at the same high volume. I went back to the bar to talk to another waitress, but she said they couldn’t turn the music down just because a customer thought it was too loud.
“It’s okay,” I said, “so I’ll go somewhere else where there’s no background music of any kind.”
I returned to the table, put things back in the bag and basket, and headed for the door. By then the music had been turned down very low, but it was too late. I was on my way, mentally browsing the other restaurant choices on Paseo Mallorca. A waitress shouted in a weak, embarrassed voice “Hasta luego” (see you later) but a considerable amount of time will pass before I return.
There are so many other places that make splendid fries that I won’t be going back to Cafe Pino until next year.
It didn’t take me very long to decide that I was going to Meson Los Rafaelesa few doors down from Café Pino, where they never did background music.
If you order fish and meat dishes, this restaurant can be a bit priceyso I always stick to tapas which are simple and extremely good.
The meal we had was proof (if any were needed) that the simplest dishes are invariably the best. We have had russian ensaladilla (Russian salad), grilled girgolas and fried boquerones (fresh anchovies), a splendid meal for less than €45 for two — and without a single note of background music.
Expect well-cooked Mallorcan and Spanish dishes and if you’re on a budget, go for the tapas. Try not to notice the surly servers.
Meson Los Rafaeles has changed somewhat since legendary owner Jaime Pizá died on January 24 at the age of 79. It was popularly known as “el Menut”, a word meaning small. He was famous for his verbal battles with servers and kitchen staff. The voices rose very high and the regulars loved it. It was a sort of sight they expected to see and hear every day for lunch and dinner.
Regulars will be missed at ‘el Menut’ and some of them may no longer be regulars: on Friday there were fewer customers than usual and Friday was still a particularly busy day. But the kitchen is still in the hands of the same cooks and they still do a wonderful job. The Russian salad was of the hodgepodge type in which potatoes and other vegetables are mashed together. I liked it a lot, even if the Catalan friend I was with was not very enthusiastic.
Girgolas, sometimes called oyster mushrooms in English, are absolutely delicious when cooked properly and seasoned well. In Los Rafaeles they do them on a very hot plancha better than any other place I’ve been to and they were worth a 10. The fresh anchovies were perfectly fried and also got a 10. The brazo gitano, a roly-poly sponge cake on a Bed of custard, was most enjoyable.
Meson Los Rafaeles, Paseo Mallorca 28, Palma. Tel: 971-726240. Open every day for lunch and dinner. The dining room isn’t very big and this place can fill up easily, so it’s always best to book.
The law project
Russian salad, 5 €
Griddle Girgolas, €10
Boquerone fries, €11
Brazo gypsy, 7 €
Basket of bread, €3
One can, €2.50
Mineral water, €2.25
Total cost with VAT: €44.83