The first clue that dinner at Read's restaurant in Mallorca was going to be an evening of chemistry as much as cooking arrived with my aperitif. The gin looked normal enough, but the tonic was blue. And why not? After all, the strange and delicious is what a night at Read's, outside the small inland town of Santa María, is all about.
British chef Marc Fosh has won a Michelin star and a raft of other awards for a commitment to quality at any price. After we had ordered, our waiter informed us that the chef had taken a second look at the foie gras and decided it wasn't up to scratch. Unfortunate for us, maybe, but it didn't matter. Our dishes including scallops with beetroot powder and a light chestnut-and-white-truffle sauce, and fillet of scorpion fish with bulgur, cardamom yogurt and preserved lemons were all minute and edgy masterpieces. They came with cubes of chili aspic with chocolate, sauces of licorice, and a host of strange powders, gelées, foams and blossoms.
To make up for the missing foie gras, our sommelier opened a 1971 bottle of Madeira, which, rather pleasingly, appeared to bring tears to his eyes. Now that we're all amateur Jamie Olivers, the popularity of a place like Read's, serving dishes you'd need to borrow staff from NASA to recreate, seems likely only to rise. At $140 for the tasting menu without wine, it's pricey. Then again, eating at Fosh's restaurant is the culinary equivalent of a visit to any genuine wonder of the world: it's priceless. www.readshotel.com