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The bars are back in town

Cool restaurants with bars

For years and years and years, people have eaten snacks, sandwiches, tapas and pinchos whilst standing or sitting at the bar of their friendly local eaterie. It's a great social way to eat, chat and meet people and absolutely perfect if you're alone and feel a bit awkward taking up table space in a 'standard' restaurant.

Long the mainstay of small bars, cafes and markets, this style of eating where you can watch your food being prepared is now finding its way into some rather smart, cool and upmarket eateries which seem to be springing up everywhere.

A few years back Marc Fosh led the way with his (badly missed by me) Tasca Blanquerna which served up excellent food prepared at the bar/work surface by chefs with whom you could chat. Now the idea is catching on big time with some superb 'sit at the bar' diners.

We've already seen in these pages the brilliant new El Camino in Palma which has brought a touch (but not a touch too much) of London style to the city centre with its 16 metre long bar and super comfortable bar stools. Also featured was Tomeu Caldentey's new relaxed dining in Sa Coma on Mallorca's east coast where he escaped from the golden shackles of Michelin stardom to prepare food and chat with clients.

Now our local newspaper, the Diario de Mallorca, has news of more eateries which are raising the bar by having a bar! Clandesti, opened in Palma city centre by two trendy young chefs, Pau Navarro and Ariadna Salvador, weighs in with 9.5 metre long bar with great views of the food stations which permit the chefs to explain the intricacies of the dishes 'workshop-style.' Seating 20, it has super comfy chairs to ensure that a two-hour culinary extravaganza is a perfect gastronomic experience.

Over in Llubi, Brut is a former carpenter's converted into a super cool eaterie and brewery by Argentinian Bruno Balbi. His U-shaped bar is 12 metres long, seats 14 and great views of the food preparation areas. Bruno learned his chef's trade in the famous El Bulli and his brewing finesse at the Monsieur Gordo Brewery in Madrid. When the restaurant closes for its annual holiday, Bruno brews craft beer there in winter.

Other top chefs are also jumping on the barwagon with Santi Taura (of DINS in Lloseta) about to open a new place in Palma near the Mercat de l'Olivar which will have a U-shaped bar and Marga Coll of Micelli opening a long bar with simple food in Inca Market.

So, exciting times now and ahead for those of us who like informal dining. I can't wait to test drive some of these places, but whilst I'm waiting, I could always pop into the Olivar Market in Palma for a quick pitstop.