HPC – Porto Colom – Modern Mallorquian cuisine nestled in the (alleged) birthplace of the discoverer of the New World
In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. For some who have lived on the island for a certain time and feel that the cathedral is a long way from El Terreno, the thought may be a terrifying prospect these days. For others it’s probably in your calendar a few times a year which is why the comfort of Palma or your homestead can sometimes kick in. It is easy when you live in the city, with our access to restaurants, beaches, clubs and culture, to forget that there are other areas much further afield that are worth travelling to. Well I have found a very good one that’s worth jumping in your car and travelling to.
Approximately 45 minutes by car out of Palma is the lovely little fishing village of Porto Colom. On the east coast of Mallorca, it is just north of the seaside resort of Cala D’Or where the group also have other restaurants. It is allegedly the birthplace of our very well-travelled friend after whom it is named and was a thriving port for the export of wine to France until the blight which wiped out many of Mallorca’s vineyards. Now it is home to happy travellers who come over for the summer and to locals and expats who enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the calmer winter months. It is easy to reach by car and bus and also by water with several mooring buoys in the shallow, but well protected bay.
Among the bars and restaurants along the waterfront you will find HPC. Unassuming from the outside it is a wonderful gem on the inside. We were there for lunch in March, so the weather was not yet warm enough for the front terrace to be set up. However, if the inside is anything to go by it will be a delight when the sun makes a more permanent appearance.
Our welcome by Alessandra was absolutely delightful. In fact, the whole team bent over backwards for us and other guests who were dining that day. And in pretty much every language you could imagine. The clientele ranged from local Mallorquians to Danish men in Lycra who were clearly over to enjoy the delights of cycling on the island. As HPC is also a hostal with 12 double rooms and 2 suites (all with private bathrooms) it makes a perfect location for groups such as the Danish party, to call their base.
The décor is modern and light with high ceilings, large whitewashed arches and splashes of colour such as the aquamarine wine cellar and the vibrant red bar. The tables are all covered with oatmeal coloured table cloths and are adorned with translucent blue glassware which lifts the feel from formal to breezy and is reminiscent of the sand and sea. This feeling is added to by the bulbous, glowing, fabric chandeliers that reminded me of jellyfish lighting up the sea. Around the walls the shelves are filled with all manner of delicatessen delights in wonderfully colourful boxes that add to the vibrancy of the place. Though sadly these are not for sale.
Before sitting down for lunch Alessandra kindly showed us up to the roof terrace which will be opening in earnest for dining and cocktails in May/June. During the winter months it is primarily used for private parties as the views across the bay are spectacular. It was however easy to imagine sitting on the terrace with a gin and tonic, as the sun goes down and the warm breeze washes away the heat of the day. It will be a prime spot this Summer and can host around 100 people. There will be live music at the weekends.
After our trip to the terrace to admire the views we were treated to a wonderful lunch of modern Mediterranean cuisine with a Mallorquian twist. We started with a small amuse bouche of leak and potato soup which is also served on the starter menu. It would have made for a perfect starter on a colder day as it was wonderfully thick and creamy.
For our actual starters we were recommended two dishes – one fish and one meat. Simon, editor extraordinaire and my fellow adventurer for the afternoon, had the Salmon Tartare with avocado. It was rich and creamy with a nice sour tang to offset the sweetness. I started with the Beef Carpaccio with arugula and parmesan shavings. It came beautifully presented in a stack with a stunning yellow pansy at the summit which made the red of the carpaccio stand out far more vibrantly. It was delicious. The carpaccio was delicate, but strong enough to stand up to the strength of the parmesan and the fiery pepperiness of the arugula. It was a perfect lunchtime starter as it will full of flavour but not too filling considering what I had chosen for my main.
I have a thing about crackling. I always have. I don’t what it is. The naughtiness of it. The sheer delight in the crunchiness or the fun of breaking in to the fridge after a Sunday roast and running off with what is left. Well, on the menu at HPC is Shoulder of crispy suckling pig with rosemary potatoes. I felt that it would have been extremely rude to deny myself such a lunchtime luxury and I’m so happy that I didn’t. The dish was fabulous. The meat had an almost gamey quality to it, but the crackling, oh the crackling. I was one very happy writer that afternoon.
That is not to say that Simon’s cod was not up to the same standard, it just didn’t have crackling. He chose the Cod au gratin with soft alioli and said that that the cod was cooked to perfection – not overdone or underdone as can so often be the case. It was beautifully adorned with bursts of red from the roasted cherry tomatoes and there was none left on either dish on either side of the table once we were through.
We may not be travelling the ocean blue, though obviously many of you are for work, but I can genuinely say that if you fancy getting out of Palma or wherever you are living and feel like an adventure to the east of our beautiful island then HPC at Porto Colom will not disappoint. I for one plan to sample the sundowners there as soon as it is warm enough again and I hope to see some of you there.
Carrer d’ En Cristòfor Colom 5 – Portocolom
+34 971 825 323 – www.restaurantehpc.com
By Victoria Pearce
Photos Credit: Anouska Foss