Recently we spent a week in Palma de Mallorca. It’s a beautiful city that is easily accessible by air from the UK, and certainly worthy of a long weekend at the very least. There are plenty of interesting places to eat and drink, and I would like to draw your attention to a couple of centrally located venues that should be of particular interest to wine lovers. They were both good enough for us to visit twice on our trip.
Wineing (sic) is a great place for wine-lovers to geek out. Even normal people who want to grab something to eat with a couple of glasses of wine will not be disappointed, but if you want to taste local wines, it is the place to go. Here is a panoramic image of the enomatic machines available there – click to enlarge.
From left to right, there are two machines loaded with non-Majorcan Spanish reds, followed by one with white and rosé wines from anywhere in the world, one with non-Spanish reds, and then, fading into the distant darkness in the image, are the two machines I concentrated most on: the Majorcan reds. The emphasis on red wine reflects production on the island, but seemed inappropriate in a wine-bar-cum-restaurant setting. Nevertheless, it suited me.
On both visits we were served by a Swedish waitress with excellent English who was friendly and helpful, and very much set the tone of the place. One of the nice features of Wineing was the flexibility. The place was not very busy, so we could sit where we wanted, and it is possible to just drink, or eat as little or as much as you want. The menu included tapas, but you could also put together a full meal with dessert – a lot more wine-friendly than a cheese or ham platter. For our first visit we were not very hungry, but shared bread, one tapas dish, one steak and a portion of chips. The second time we ordered a few different tapas dishes.
The wine choices were even more flexible. Depending on where you chose to sit, there may have been a glass at your table, but regardless there was a stash of decent quality glasses on a table between two enomatic machines for you to help yourself to. From the machines you could take pours of size “tasting”, “half glass” or “full glass”, or buy bottles, at the prices indicated on the enomatic labels. To give you some idea of the range, the Majorcan wines I tried were: Ánima Negra, Án and ÁN/2; Miguel Oliver, Aía; 4 Kilos, 12 Volts and Gallinas y Focas; Oliver Moragues, OM; Son Bordils, Syrah; Xaloc, El Colmo; Castell Miguel, Shiraz Stairway to Heaven.
La Bodeguilla was also excellent, but in a very different way. The food at Wineing is good, but at La Bodeguilla it is outstanding, and there was also an excellent wine list. It is never going to be a Michelin starred restaurant for reasons mentioned below, but in my opinion it whupped Simply Fosh (a 1 star restaurant in Palma) on sheer quality of food.
But be aware that, although it does serve both tapas and restaurant-style courses, at heart it is an up-market tapas bar, with small tables and less-than-comfortable seating. There are two areas: in the more tapas part you are provided with stools, while in the restaurant part the chairs are ridiculously low. The table heights were in proportion to the chairs, but if you are tallish like me you finish up almost sitting cross-legged. If I were a cynic (actually I am in this case), I would suggest that the seating was designed to encourage people not to linger so they can cram more covers in. At the very least, a Michelin star does ensure more comfortable seating!
Another slight negative for us was the more formal, though not always well-organised, service. To be fair, this may have partly been due to the language barrier, but nevertheless it made a marked contrast to the service at Wineing.
The wine list in tangible form is illustrated above. You do get a paper version too, unprompted if you are seated in the restaurant area, but apparently only on request in the tapas area. There is also a good selection of wines by the glass. Nowhere near as comprehensive as the enomatic-powered Wineing, but very nicely selected. For example, the Sherries offered were, to quote the by-the-glass card verbatim: Tio Pepe Rama, Manzanilla la Goya Rama, Palo Cortado AB Leonor, Amontillado Tresillo, and Uno Palma.
Every tapas dish on the two occasions we ate there was exquisite: crab terrine, tuna tartare, aubergine and smoked cod, and a mini steak and foie gras burger with skinny chips. The main course we both ordered was suckling lamb shoulder, which turned out to be a whole shoulder and front leg. This was no doubt correctly cooked and presented, but I do tend to prefer the meat of more fully grown animals. So why did I order it? Well, there was not a lot of choice for the main courses, and three of the dishes were suckling something-or-other. On return I shall stick to the tapas.
This place is not cheap, and it does apparently get full very easily, but I recommend it highly for the quality of the tapas and wine.
Edit: A quick update after a revisit to each of these places in October 2022.
La Bodeguilla was more or less as I remembered it, but I didn’t reread my previous review beforehand, so cannot compare point-by-point. The service was smooth and very efficient this time. It was also surprisingly prompt, so you shouldn’t order too much at the same time without instructions for pauses. Not cheap, but excellent food, and the wine we ordered (the cheapest Majorcan red on the list) was good too. We were there early in the week, and even then you really had to book in advance for an evening meal.
Wineing was smarter and more formal than last time. The Swedish waitress was (perhaps unsurprisingly) no longer there, and the menu was shorter. The food was not at all up to La Bodeguilla standards, yet was pretty similarly priced. On the upside, the enomatics were still there, but without the international wines this time – just Spain, with an emphasis on Majorca – which was fine by us, and we tried all the local variety wines they had. I generally found them a bit disappointing, and maybe more downmarket than on the previous visit, but it still offered a unique opportunity to taste so many local wines in one place, and I appreciated that.
In summary, I’d still strongly recommend La Bodeguilla, for food and wine. Wineing gets a recommendation if the idea of helping yourself to tasting samples of a wide selection of Spanish wines appeals, but I’d only eat enough there to soak up the wine.