At the Nobu Ibiza Bay hotel, Zoë Perrett discovers a
modern Mexican marvel in the form of Peyotito
I’ll get on to describing the food at what I’d happily nominate as one of Ibiza’s best new restaurants shortly, but first allow me a moment to talk about the uniforms. At Peyotito, the waitresses are designed to stand out, not blend in; attired in fire-engine red shift dresses with a flouncy cut that’s both supremely stylish and practical when you’re run off your feet.
Those outfits are the first indication that Peyotito does things differently. The second is the lack of any overt decor references to Mexico: it’s classy, it’s colourful, but it’s definitely not cliched. Both inside and out, the fit-out is fabulous, from a living wall to a neon sign which reads ‘all you need is love, or maybe, mezcal’. Which reminds us – we need a drink.
You think rimming salt is good? You need tajin in your life. At Peyotito, margarita glasses are adorned with this powdered blend of chilli, salt and dehydrated lime – the sort of stuff the term ‘lip-smacking’ was coined for. We savour its flavour on both a classic example served with a teeny-tiny glass bottle of mezcal, and a chilli-and-passionfruit-infused number.
As it’s irresponsible to drink on an empty stomach, we also demolish a bowl of tortilla chips – here, robust discs made with both blue and yellow corn that are good eaten alone but even better slicked with one of the three house-made condiments which accompany them: a salty-spicy peanut-pumpkin paste that’s like a supercharged satay sauce, a zingy green avocado and tomatillo salsa, and a charred tomato relish.
Our first course is, we realise only after it’s cleared, entirely vegan – and totally free from gluten. It’s also incredibly, exclaim-out-loud tasty. We make short work of a generous bowlful of pleasingly chunky guacamole, scooped up with another round of those chips, then chase it with tumblers of a verdant liquid which is called gazpacho verde but reminds us both of verdita, our preferred tequila chaser. Blending tomatillos, serrano chillies and coriander, it’s far more delicious than one of those suspicious health store ‘green juices’.
We’ve turned our noses up at quinoa and all its similarly ubiquitous trendy superfoodie friends at every restaurant we’ve eaten at on this island, but the way Peyotito serves it forces us to eat our words along with every last scrap of a pomegranate-jewelled salad composed of the ancient grain, thinly slivered asparagus, datterino tomatoes and local almonds that’s far, far more than the sum of its parts.
After that warm-up, the hot stuff starts arriving. Tacos de res places heaps of slow-roasted shredded short rib in lettuce cups rather than on tortillas, the wrappers offering a crisp counterpoint to the soft, chilli-laced beef. Their al pastor cousins feature slices of tender, rare-cooked Iberico pork atop discs of blue corn, the meat’s almost-bacon-y flavour simultaneously enhanced and contrasted by a sweet and spicy pineapple pico de gallo.
When we tuck into Peyotito’s quesadilla de comal, LB surprises the pair of us by actually enjoying cheese on something other than a pizza; here truffled, mixed with wild mushrooms, and oozing from grilled tortillas. I’m happy about his culinary awakening, less so about the fact I now have to share.
But we’re certainly not short of food. The next dish is something so good that I’d urge you to stop reading this now, board the next flight to Ibiza, and order immediately. Aged chuleton rib eye is marinated in adobo and a 50:50 blend of tequila and mescal, grilled in the Josper oven, then doused in coriander butter. Served sliced with little more than a pile of smoked salt, it has us – and every other diner we see eating it – in raptures. It’s not far short of a religious experience.
Once we’ve wiped the plate clean, I feel I could die happy, but there’s the small matter of dessert to contend to. We share a super-light, gluten-free ‘tres leches’ sponge cake with berries, in which I detect a hint of lavender, and a rapidly-diminished pile of churros served with bitter cinnamon-chocolate sauce and that buttery Mexican caramel, cajeta.
We take our time over the last dregs of our Zarate albarinho, because we’ve little inclination to leave and frankly it’s proving slightly difficult to move after our not-insubstantial feast. When finally we take our leave, it’s practically bedtime – and we both know we’ll be dreaming of that chuleton for many nights to come.
Make it happen
Where: Peyotito Ibiza, Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay, Carrer de Ses Feixes, 52, 07800 Ibiza, Islas Baleares, Spain
Find out more: To visit the website, click here