“It feels as though the beach should be right outside,” The Boss said wistfully, gazing around the interior of The Duke restaurant. At least twenty-five years have passed since my husband donned his wetsuit to ride the Cornish waves with his sons but, like any serious surfing fan, he knows the significance of this eatery’s name. When keen surfers and world travellers Ronnie and Juanjo opened the place in Santa Catalina in 2009, they named it after the legendary Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku.
Over the past decade The Duke has delighted locals and visitors with its blend of exciting ethnic food, laidback ambience, and friendly but professional service.
In the past couple of years, chef Ronny Portulidis has abandoned butter, cream, and artificial ingredients, to improve his own health and offer more nourishing food to The Duke’s customers. The focus may be on healthier ingredients, but Ronny’s dishes are still packed with flavour. And the restaurant is still packed with people: we went for lunch on a Thursday and bagged the last free table.
Expect surf-shack vibes in this buzzy eatery in Palma’s vibrant Santa Catalina district: photos of surfers, surfing ephemera, and even a few surfboards adorn the walls. It’s only when you look at the building itself that you realise this was once someone’s house; if only those ceiling beams could talk…
The centre of the restaurant is dominated by long tables, offering the opportunity to share space with friends you haven’t yet met, but there are smaller tables in a cosy side area and some tall tables for two (we had one of these). Seating is a mix of chairs (conventional and tall) and benches, with cushions for comfort.
A small rear terrace looks promising for alfresco dining in warmer months.
The buzz of happy chatter can be quite loud when The Duke is full, so this may not be the place for a quiet conversation over a meal.
What I ate and drank
At lunchtime The Duke offers a short à la carte menu or a three-course (with choices) ‘menú del día’, including water and bread, for 17€. For lighter appetites or time-pressed customers, there’s a main-course dish of the day for 11€. At night the à la carte menu offers more choice. Both à la carte menus bear the strapline ‘Ethnic Food Culture’. Junior diners are catered for with the ‘Plato Sofia’ for 8,50€ – a choice of fish or chicken fillet with rice or fries, broccoli, and cherry tomato.
The ‘menú del día’ included a tempting pumpkin soup with ginger, gorgonzola, and pecan nuts and a main-course vegetarian Keralan curry, but we were going to dine with friends that night, so opted instead for a selection of tapas from the à la carte.
As we browsed, we nibbled chickpea-flour bread, with fruity Ibizan Balanzat Select extra virgin olive oil and ‘flor de sal’. We finally settled on four tapas to share: guacamole with yummy yucca chips (the latter freshly made and still warm); moreish sweet-potato fries with thyme and vegan aioli; pitta bread with smoked hummus and tzatziki sauce, and oh-so-tasty Lebanese kefte of lamb (of which there were four) with cumin, thyme, and lemon, also served with tzatziki sauce. I’d order any of these again. Even shared, these four tasty tapas made a satisfying lunch, accompanied by a Pacifico beer (The Boss) and sparkling water (me).
We hadn’t told the restaurant I was coming for a review and found out while there that Ronny was away on vacation. I can’t wait to discover what new culinary inspiration he gained from his latest travels.
If you want delicious food based on carefully sourced produce, served in an informal setting with a laidback ambience, head for The Duke. Do book first to be sure of a table.
We paid 30€ for our tapas and a few euros more for our two drinks and felt we’d had good value.
Good to know
The Duke’s menu includes dishes suitable for vegans and vegetarians and has earned a listing on the ‘Happy Cow’ website.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday – 13:00-16:00h; 19:30-23:00h. Closed Sunday.
C/ Soler, 36
Palma de Mallorca
Tel +34 971 07 17 38
Written by Jan Edwards
About the author
Jan is an English freelance writer, blogger, and radio broadcaster, who moved from Oxfordshire to Mallorca in 2004. She and her husband – aka The Boss – have since lived in rural tranquillity in a solar-electricity-powered finca near Manacor. They share their property with six ‘adopted’ cats.
A former BBC local radio presenter and journalist, Jan hosts gastronomy and hospitality show ‘Table Talk’ on Saturday mornings from 10 on English-language station Mallorca Sunshine Radio.
Jan has had numerous Mallorca-related articles published in print and online and is delighted to be a Nourish The Guide contributor. She also blogs about her country life on www.livinginruralmallorca.com and about food, drink, and places to stay, on www.eatdrinksleepmallorca.com. She has had several short stories published and is currently writing a novel.