It’s 3.30pm on a Wednesday afternoon at Restaurant Urbano. There is the relaxed calm of diners who have eaten well. People are sitting back, loosening their belts and sipping good wine. Lunchtime service is over and the Urbano chefs and owners, Jens and Emmi, have finally got a little time to spend with Engel and Volkers before they start all over again for the evening.
You might already be familiar with these two men who started working together more than a decade ago in Restaurant Jens in Camp de Mar. They then moved to El Patio on the Port Andratx in 2010, and now in 2015 they have moved again to premises in Port Andratx, just around the corner from La Consignia bakery. Jens came to Mallorca in 1998, working first in Cala D’Or and then in Deiá where he met his wife-to-be Manuela. It was at his eponymously named restaurant in 2001 that he met Emmi who had just arrived on the island to work. It wasn’t long before the two of them were together, side by side in the kitchen. “When we started we were different, but we have grown to know each other very well indeed.” We joke that they must spend more time together than they do with their wives and children and they both nod ruefully at us. “It is a marriage, yes” agrees Emmi.
From the beginning of this evolution the two chefs have had certain things set in their minds: to be original, and to only use the best possible ingredients, to listen to their clients, and to listen to their own hearts. We ask them what is the key to their success? They both laugh and look at each other, searching for an answer. “I don’t know actually”, says Jens, “I’m not even able to explain it in German”. “Consistency and 400% hard work,” says Emmi, and they both nod. That will do.
How do they manage to be so consistent? “We are the owners as well as the head chefs; we aren’t relying on someone else to make our food for us. We are both in the kitchen so we are both responsible for what comes out of it. We won’t serve anything to our clients that isn’t 100% perfect”.
For example, on the menu del dia for today Beetroot carpaccio, with Mahon cheese and Argan oil Harumaki of gilthead bream, an Asian vegetable salad and mango
- Medallion of hake with leek and pear or Tagliata of beef on an artichoke risotto Bee sting cake with chocolate ice cream 39.50€ for four courses or 29.50€ for three courses
Or the specials of the day perhaps? Salmon tartar with lemon and eucalyptus (14.50€), Slices of fillet beef with a spinach lasagne (32.50€) or Yoghurt lemon tart with a fruit smoothie (9.50€).
Sounds quite perfect to us.
A distinctive element, aside from the excellent cooking, is the presentation of their dishes which are always exquisite, and works of art in their own right. Sometimes decorated with flowers, or delicately positioned just so. Trust us when we tell you the food at Restaurant Urbano tastes even better than it looks.
How have diners’ tastes changed over the last decade? “Clients are thinking more about their health. They want to eat well, but not at the cost of their waistline. We present more meatless food for our clients; we have seen that rise in demand. Plus we use fewer carbohydrates in our dishes as well”.
What is popular at the moment? “Good steak will never go out of fashion,” says Jens smiling. “We have some modern classics and signature dishes: plates on the menu which will never go out of favour. Our pasta is really good, our raviolis, and the beef cheeks as well, they are always popular with our customers.”
Of course, products in Mallorca have also become more available over the years. It wasn’t so long ago that you would have to go on a hunt to find ‘exotic’ ingredients whereas now they are very easy to find. “Yes,” Emmi agrees, “we have the opportunity to be more creative with food for sure. And we have seen a real influence from the international people who have been moving to live on the island.”
That’s not to say that Jens and Emmi are set in stone, they have their style but they are influenced by other chefs who are up and coming on the island. “We like to watch what the new guys are doing, there are some very exciting restaurants in Mallorca now”. Not that they will get much opportunity as Jens and Emmi’s clients have already started to find them in their new location and are enjoying the food of these two experienced and gifted chefs in their prime, cooking with imagination, passion and skill. Go soon, and taste for yourself.
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