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Forn de Sant Joan
Although it’s in a street which is full of restaurants in the La Llonja area of Palma’s old town, Forn de Sant Joan really catches the eye as you stroll along. There’s something very inviting about the ground level cocktail lounge area and the sight of diners through the windows. Step in to the building and there’s a nice healthy buzz of people enjoying themselves – not just tourists either in this charming and very tourist friendly area, but local families also. The very old stone building used to be a family-run bakery with living quarters on the upper floors but the Baqués family acquired the building in the early 1990’s and converted it into a different sort of business, but still family-run! Christian and Carlos Baqués took over the reins from their father in 2005 and introduced the present form and style of the restaurant. Most of the character of the old building has been retained, along with some direct links to its bakery past, and the result is a restaurant full of charm and interest.
There are four floors at Forn de Sant Joan each with its own style and atmosphere. The ground floor cocktail bar and lounge area has quite a modern feel but keeps a strong link to the past through the exposed brickwork and old oven doors. The links to the past are even stronger in the beamed and rustic cellar area which can cater for groups of up to 50. Up the stairs past the very modern kitchen in the old bakery oven area, the middle floor houses the Crystal Room which has an intimate and romantic feel with its tables (only 7) for two, chandeliers, and beamed ceiling. Top of the house is the Red Room which has a warm and elegant air. The layout makes it possible to cater for groups of all sizes in areas which match the size of the party.
Christian explained that the cuisine at 'Es Forn' is typical Mallorcan tapas and dishes with modern touches, using fresh local produce whenever possible. There’s a lengthy tapas menu – if you have a big enough group you could try all of them, but we had to limit ourselves to half portions of the selection proposed by Maitre Victor. They were all very good, some, for example the grilled octopus, the Forn patatas bravas, the foie gras, and the garlic prawns, were very good indeed, and the special jamon from Extramadura was suberb.
For main course Forn offers a choice of pasta, fish and meat dishes, including a deluxe burger. We chose the Monkfish loin, and the house speciality of Lamb “a las 7 horas”. The fish was perfectly cooked, its delicate flavours enhanced by an olive pesto, and it was served on a bed of lovely crunchy vegetables. It’s easy to see why the lamb is such a hit. Baked in a slow oven, flaked off the bone, served on a bed of smoky mash, with a dark and delicious sauce – it is a melt-in-the-mouth dish with lovely deep flavours. On this visit we were unable (no space!) to try the sweet menu – definitely something for next time because the ones we saw looked awesome! Forn has an extensive wine list featuring many Mallorcan and mainland Spanish wines, and in house expertise is available to help you to make your choice.
We went to Forn de Sant Joan in the evening of a normal working Monday, when you might expect business to be a bit slow. In fact, there was a steady flow of clients the whole time we were there, and it was still busy when we left. Christian and Carlos will always try to accommodate you if you just drop in, but it’s probably best to book for what will definitely be a very enjoyable experience.
Forn also offers special lunchtime menus which feature a selection of the dishes from the full dinner menu - very good value at only 15 Euros. See the attachment above for this week's details.