From the outside, this unassuming restaurant looks like any other street corner cafe, but its so much more than that.
- Food (9/10)
- Value (10/10)
- Service (10/10)
I’ve never really trusted a cheap lunch menu. I think I’ve been hurt in the past too many times as a tourist, lured into sub-par establishments under the guise of providing me with a decent €12 three course menu, only to feel cheated at the end when all I got was a crappy soup or salad, some over cooked meat and a ration of shop bought ice-cream. Maybe I’ve just been eating in the wrong places but this seems to have been the staple of my past tourist experiences (pre Google reviews and trip advisor). When I saw Vida Meva did a three course lunch for €14,90, including bread and water, I felt a bit dubious. How good can this realistically be for less than a fiver per course?
However before continuing, it must be mentioned that just the fact that water is being offered alongside a meal without having to pay is a plus for me. I find myself going thirsty at meals out in Spain, just because i’m too cheap to order a second expensive and miniature glass bottle of water, I may as well order a beer for that price,butI digress.
Casting my doubts aside, we dawdled down to Vida Meva, a two minute walk from our apartment. The place was fully booked so I was glad I called in advance, all walk ins were turned away and plenty of locals bustled in from nearby offices to treat themselves to a value lunch. How had we not heard of this place before, and why was it so busy? It’s tucked away in a quiet corner of the city, a five minute walk from the hustle and bustle of Carrer del Sindicat.
Vida Meva just exudes effortlessness. From the bright and simple cafe like interior and the chatty waitresses, there’s not a hint of pretentiousness to it. Reading the menu felt like I was being offered a culmination of everything you would feel like eating on an autumnal day in November, but nothing like anything you’d find on any other lunch menu around Palma. We sat outside in the sun and wolfed down starters of rich blood sausage with sweet peppers and apple puree alongside delicious and warming chestnut and celeriac soup with pear that I mopped up with the chunky and warm homemade bread that was served alongside. The starters were big and bold, like hearty home cooking turned almost fine dining.
The mains were just as generous as the starters. A beast of a chicken breast with an incredibly deep and rich jus and a ragout of ceps and girolles. It was huge, the chicken well cooked and moist, served with buttery mash. There was a tangy and sweet apricot puree alongside, not even mentioned on the menu. That’s what I mean by effortless, like they deemed the puree not worth mentioning, but it added SO much to the dish. The mountain of flavoursome tagine and couscous with dukkah and harissa yoghurt was truly superb. I’d never had a tagine at a restaurant before, and I almost never order a vegetarian dish, but i’m so glad I did. It seemed like every ingredient on the plate served a purpose, from the refreshing pomegranate seeds, to the pre-roasted and sweet caremalised veg and the salty olives dotted throughout to counteract it. Everything was expertly excecuted, and rivalling the fine dining places that charge plenty more for their lunctime menus.
For christ’s sake, its no fun reviewing places that are so good. I’ve already googled synonyms for delicious twice, and also alternatives to the word “hearty”, because thats how I want to describe everything I consumed at Vida Meva. Google suggested a few new expressions, so I’ll describe our desserts as backslappingly vivacious. But seriously, I was blown away. The showstopper of the whole meal for me was a caremalised pineapple and rad el hanut tatin with a cracking crème brûlée top. The pineapple was sliced thin with a mandolin, piled into a glorious golden brick, cemented with caramel infused with the warm spice of ras el ranut. It was served with a creamy and cooling coconut ice cream, the perfect accompaniment. We also had an absolute unit of an eclair, filled to burst with chocolate fondant and topped with raspberry and raspberry purée. Seriously fine dining standard desserts, with massive portions. I couldve eaten the pineapple tatin three times over, and was a bit pissed off I had to share with my boyfriend even though he ate nearly the entire eclair, but I’m over that now.
When the menu came to under €30 for two people, it felt like I was getting away with something. Its honestly a steal, I’ve paid bloody €9 for a plate of shitty croquettes at some pretentious bar in Santa Catalina. I’ve spent €15 on a main dish at places far more highly rated than this place, and not nearly as delicious. This is the sort of food you can easily spend a lot more on. This isn’t just your standard lunch menu, it’s something far more special than that. And the menu changes every week, so I’ll be heading back again ASAP. If you want to feel full, happy and pleasantly surprised for less than €15 then this is the place.
Vida Meva Restaurante Carrer del Socors, 23, 07002 Palma, Illes Balears