Sa Capella is a stunning restaurant o the outskirts of San Antonio, located in a 400 year old church and home to some of the finest dishes on any Ibiza restaurant menu. Visiting this tranquil spot is much more than going out for a meal, it’s an experience you will never forget the first time and it is one that you will repeat time and again. What is about Sa Capella that makes it so special? There are a number of individual things that, when joined together, make a spectacular whole. The first is the warm family-like welcome you receive, whether you are Tom Hanks or Bruce Springsteen (both have eaten here), a regular customer of over twenty years, or someone walking into the amazing dining room for the first time. Most of the staff has been together for over 15 years! There are regulars who have their names on the booths and tables where they have eaten for over a decade. The visual experience is hard to beat, from the authentic uniforms worn by the staff to the unique interior of what was initially intended to be a church. The menu is full of specialties, from the suckling pig to the Ox on a bed of salt and, a mixture of traditional and new cuisine that doesn’t forget its roots but isn’t afraid to embrace anything that will add to the enjoyment of its clientele. Once you have eaten you are presented with your own decanter full of home-made hierbas to enjoy at your leisure as a digestive. Wednesday April 16 saw Sa Capella open its doors for the 2014 season and we dropped by to find out a bit more about the restaurant and the team behind it…
How would you describe your menu?
Our menu offers customers a wide range of dishes to choose from and it was designed to respond to most needs and preferences. Over the years the restaurant menu was adapted or modified several times but our chef never lost sight of the importance of traditional cuisine, in fact it was his attempt at an ‘old and new’ fusion that makes some of items on the menu so special. Many of our customers are utterly surprised when reading on the menu about combinations such as the pumpkin cannelloni with cheese sauce or desserts such as the strawberry pepper soup. The reaction of such customers after trying these menu items is always the same, sheer delight.
Is it fair to say that your Ox on the bed of salt is one of your specialties?
The Ox on the bed of salt is certainly something you don’t see every day, and our way of preparing it is unique according to our guests. However the Ox on the bed of salt is competing in popularity with the T-bone, suckling pig and Chateaubriand, it’s quite difficult to keep up with the demand of these dishes in the busy summer days. We’ve even had cases of people making reservations for the suckling pig.
How much thought goes into the menu every year, do you look to add new dishes regularly?
Our chef is constantly looking for improvement every year and new dishes appear in the menu under the form of weekly suggestions, usually prepared from seasonal produce. Examples of such suggestions include the ‘Ajoblanco Cream’ or ‘Green tomatoes and avocado Gazpacho’. Some of the existing dishes have been subtly changed over the past years and there are some classical ‘Sa Capella courses’ that we do not dare to modify due to their high demand and because most of our regular customers fell in love with them irreparably and order these courses every time they visit us.
What changes, if any, have you made for the 2014 season?
As previously mentioned we have some surprises in store for our guests in the form of the weekly menu suggestions. We don’t want to ruin the surprise just yet.
How much of your menu is inspired by your location and do you use local produce?
Sa Capella is a restaurant built on tradition and history, and you can see that in every aspect of the business from the welcoming of our guests to the type of cuisine adopted and down to the uniform of the staff. Dishes such as the roast suckling pig, the gilt head bream baked in salt crust and the Sa Capella Creppes Suzzette show our respect and appreciation for traditional cuisine. Local produce is a must in the elaboration of most of our dishes, which is why we work with many local providers who live up to our expectations regarding the quality of the products we require.
We have tasted Hierbas in many places around the island but none compare to the home-made Hierbas in Sa Capella, what is your secret?
I would say that the secret lies in the recipe that has been perfected for more than 15 years, but the real secret lies in the passion of one member of the Sa Capella family who had the patience and perseverance to constantly improve something that was already receiving high praise.
Sa Capella is a stunning venue with a warm and friendly welcome, how important is making your customers feel like part of your extended family?
Most staff members in Sa Capella have known each other for more than 15 years, even the newest members of the staff, such as me, have been around for more than 5 years. It’s an extraordinary feeling to work with people that you perceive as members of your family, to feel welcome and appreciated so in these circumstances it is very easy to pass on this feeling to our guests. We do our best in trying to make everyone feel at home, to feel that they belong to the ‘Sa Capella Family’, which is why there’s quite an intense bond formed with most of our guests. We’ve had customers that got married in Sa Capella and we now have the privilege of watching their children grow up. It’s a very nice and rewarding feeling.
When do you start preparing for the new Ibiza season and what does that entail?
Preparations for the new season usually start a month in advance. The building is 400 years old, so some restoration work is needed each year. Additional preparations include getting in touch with our providers and planning the following season and new menu additions.
Sa Capella has enjoyed many celebrity guests over the years, who has been your most famous celebrity customer?
We’ve had the privilege of welcoming Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks, Sting, Niles Rodgers, and many others. It’s quite difficult to point fingers at our most famous celebrity customer, each guest brings along something special, celebrity or non-celebrity and they all mean as much to us. Some of our most regular customers even have their names written on the wall, next to the table they sit every time they visit us, as they have been doing so for more than 20 years.
You are not located in the heart of any busy resort, is your clientele mainly islanders or do you still attract a large number of tourists?
Sa Capella attracts a large number of tourists, irrespective of age or nationality. Islanders are certainly among the regular guests, but we are visited by everyone who wants to enjoy a delicious dinner in a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, away from the turmoil of the city center. Sa Capella offers a taste of the tranquility and peacefulness of ancient Ibiza, it’s an opportunity that nobody wants to miss.
Ibiza has become a destination for foodies in recent years, have you been aware of the increase in first class restaurants over the last few years?
Indeed we have noticed an increase in first class restaurants lately, and we assume that this is only the beginning. We are pleased to see restaurants that constantly raise the bar in terms of food quality and service; hopefully this will make Ibiza a favorite location for those who truly appreciate gastronomy and fine dining.
Can people book the venue for private functions, if so, what are the most popular events to be held?
The restaurant can be exclusively booked for special events up to 100 guests, with weddings being the most popular events we’ve held so far, probably because dining in an old church on your wedding day is quite appealing to most people. We’ve also held engagement parties, company dinners and birthday parties. What we like most about these events is the expression on the guests’ faces when seeing Sa Capella’s stone building with its tall ceiling and chandeliers for the first time, it’s great to witness such surprise and admiration. Most of the guests that hold such events in the restaurant, especially newly-weds, develop a special relationship with the place and with us, and they visit Sa Capella every year.