Gold food, suits of armour, multi-sensorial salons, corsage walls, plastic Penguins and oodles of Champagne in Ibiza.
The Carthaginians arrived in Ibiza in 654. The Goths and Visigoths, Muslims and Christians followed. Then came the Chavs. And stag/ bachelor parties, the tattoos, the piercings, the thongs, the “full-on” party animals, the Jagerbombs, Phil’s full English all-day breakfasts, the Thirsty Thursdays and bottomless Gigglewater, the $30 G&Ts, the VIP chill pits, the ebullient non-binary scene, Deep House, Techno, the Ecstasy, the mixology, the re-dubs and the re-masterings.
1742 came in 2022, with Flanders Zeeland/Ibizan fusion. And a £260 per head degustation tasting menu. With highbrow wine pairings and an aria. And a box seat affording a close-up and personal view of a UNESCO Cultural Heritage site. Gourmands and gourmet chefs as well as sybaritic A-listers are now colonising the Med’s infamous “White isle”. High-end dining has come to the famous /infamous party island.
Dutch master chef Edwin Vinke has just opened “1742” in the Palacio Bardaji in Dalt Vita, Eivissa, Ibiza’s UNESCO-listed hilltop Old Town. The two Michelin-starred Vinke joins Ibiza’s other Michelin-feted chefs, Óscar Molina at La Gaia and Alvaro Sanz Clavijo of Es Tragon. Next to the Cathedral of Nuestra Senora de las Nieves, Vinke’s new restaurant is in a restored mid-eighteenth mini-palace which forms part of the cultural site accorded World Heritage status in 1999.
The restaurant’s bespoke “nature-driven” menu celebrates Mediterranean seafood and Dutch sea life. And artists and craftsmen from around the world. “It mixes gastronomy and art with a wink.” Vinke’s “exclusive experiential dining concept” begins in a diddy, four-man valet taxi which takes diners – and in our case the resident violinist- up through the narrow, winding, cobbled “calles” of the ancient hilltop town to be met at the door by a statuesque lady bearing gin and tonic infused chocolates on long spoons.
After being shown an old well and given a history lesson, you are escorted up questionable carpets, past a large rose corsage wall (“There to show you you’re loved”) and a plethora of Champagne to be met by the artfully tattooed patron chef for a game of “Guess the appetiser”. From behind his counter, he offers you a mystery amuse-bouche and waits for you to identify it. You might think the answer is on the tip of your tongue but few get it right. It’s a carrot. But, no ordinary carrot. A smoked one, lovingly cooked for twenty hours. Slow-cooked carrots are Edwin’s speciality. And passion.
Parisian maitre d' Frank Briquet then shows you the special function room (“What happens in the 1742 stays in the 1742”) and escorts you up more stairs and visually challenging carpeting, to enjoy a flute aperitif on the rooftop terrace overlooking Eivissa harbour and overlooked by two unexplained giant plastic penguins. You are then taken back downstairs, under a disco ball through some 1970s Soho strip club/ hippy time Ibiza purple lighting and shown your table in one of the two “multi-sensorial salons”. It is then you become conscious of the winking fox and the fish with something in its eye.
The menu comprises a banquet of “experimental-artistic interventions” including Italian cutlery and Fair Trade tableware. A piece of beautifully carved wood from Thailand acts as a seafood platter. The napery passes as a blank canvas. The silent ambient Acid Test light show (by Aladdin of south London) pulses on the walls and ceiling. The fox and the fish wink away from gilded mirrors. The restaurant is a moving feast. Look one way and you have surrealism and the other, Gothic, Catalan and Baroque in the form of the Our Lady of the Snow Cathedral and its trapezoidal bell tower.
With wife Blanche and son Tom, two-Michelin star Vinke runs the celebrated “De Kromme Watergang” in Hoofdplast in the Zeeland region of the south-west Netherlands, The 55-year-old earned his first star in 2005 and second in 2011. He was named Chef of The Year in 2011.
As well as his own range of sturdy but flexible filleting knives, he has a three-word credo: “Pleasure, Passion and Perfection”.
“Let your heart speak and your brain and hands do the work. And especially uses all of your senses. Smell, feel, taste, over and over again.”
You read from the Experience Menu that “works of art feed you” and that what you are about to experience is “a credo, more movement, more rebellion” and that “eating is insight”.
After introducing you to some insightful fruits de mer and some insightful sturgeon and some insightful “Mame” local fish, you avidly listen as a south American waitress picturesquely paints in words a “Bogante Azul” with beach crab and broad beans and lyrically deconstructs some summer deer with pumpkins, leaving you in no doubt that Vinke is master of the briny and a proponent of the wild over the tamed, raw over overcooked. Smoked carrots notwithstanding.
Your senses quickly tell you he is an advocate of head-to-tail zero waste. No marine body part is spared. That his land and sea treasures are cooked with minimal manipulation but no less creativity. That quality far exceeds quantity and style, calorific substance. It’s theatre. Food becomes a public art installation. It’s performance art with the best wines, without music. The chilled house wine has an astronomical street value.
“Our menu back home is tailored to everything that grows and swims in and around the River Scheldt, the North Sea, and the polders. We combine this local cuisine with herbs and spices from all over the world. Our Salon Culinair feeds and inspires by serving dishes on works of art. The bread is made with Dutch seaweed,” your host explains as a mouthful of his seaweed loaf renders you speechless.
The restaurant is a joint venture between the Vinke and the Braun family from Nassau, Germany who founded the Nassau Group which also runs the Casa Munich agri-tourism farmhouse near the salt pans and Nassau Beach Club on Playa d’en Bossa where you “play big”, drinking Champagne quite literally in boatloads. They are served in mini rowing boats. You can order three, six or twelve bottles of 645€ Moet Chandon Ice Imperial 1425, Moët Ice Rose 780€ or Dom Pérignon Vintage. A bath of champagne is available for 2000€. Here the profligate and beautiful pose on sunbeds, “maximising their vitality” and honing their chillaxing skills on tuna poke bowls.
In 1742, the blessed maximise their solvency and leave the beauty to Mr Vinke’s brigade. Each course is a new flavour experience, a different work of art. The last, dessert is beanpoles.
Then enters the violinist followed by a diva. After their heart-wrung recitals, they receive a standing ovation and more winks from the fish and fox on the walls.
1742 is a very tongue-in-cheek fish restaurant. More Grateful Dead than the Chemical Brothers, interpret that how you like. There is a lot going on.
I had to know about the giant penguins. They baffled me. Apparently, they’re made from recycled plastic by Belgian artists as a protest against animal cloning. Art and food can be pretentious. As 1742 is aware. Everything there comes with a knowing Vinke. He hopes that “the old palace and its energy will take you to higher realms!” of extravagance. There is much to take in. Not just the fourteen-plus artful miniatures. The Blue Lobster ( Bogante Azul) is a masterpiece.