Argos – Hotel La Goleta’s ground floor restaurant – was awarded one Michelin star at the end of November 2016. Chef Alvaro Salazar also won his semi-final for the national Chef of the Year competition. Should he win the final next year he could be titled the best Chef in Spain for 2017. The morning after the news broke, TOTN met with Chef Alvaro and his front of house colleague Mario Wolgast.
TOTN: Did you know this was coming? Argos: No, it is always very secret when the Michelin judges come to your restaurant. This was quite a shock and far from our imagination. This is only our second year so while a Michelin star was always an ambition, we were concentrating on getting a good business going and getting known in the town. It is only because our friends from el Jardin (Chef Macareno de Castro) and Ca na Toneta (Chef Maria Solivellas) were so supportive and talking about us with chefs and food industry people on the mainland that the Michelin people got to hear of us.
TOTN: What’s next, will you keep going for more stars?
Argos: more stars are good but it’s complicated. We have to work hard to keep the star that we have. Right now we are taking a rest and going back to our hometowns to rest and enjoy some good food. We will use the time to gather ideas and get a new structure in place ready for when we open at the beginning of March. We will be making some changes. For example we won’t be serving lunch and the breakfast service will be passed over to the hotel side. We will only be working on dinner service.
TOTN: What can we expect on the menu in 2017?
Argos: I’ll be in Linares in Jaen over the winter where I’ll be cooking and getting inspiration. I already have some ideas for next year but for sure the signature dishes will remain.
TOTN: So you like to go back to your roots or do you prefer to travel?
Argos: I don’t really feel I need to travel for inspiration. It’s great to try different cuisines but what’s important is to be back home where I have the time and the patience to try new concepts. I like to be in the traditional Andalusian kitchen and I love the old stews that my great aunt taught me to make. She is still cooking at the age of 93. It’s this introduction to cooking that helped me to develop my own style. It’s not a typical Michelin-starred kitchen. I like to use one main ingredient in various different ways and put it on the plate.
TOTN: Would you say you follow any particular food trends, like the 0km approach or fusion for example?
Argos: There are so many and we have all the information to hand. It’s hard to pinpoint anything. I mean, because of social media and the thousands of food blogs, we have access to absolutely everything, instantly. So in a sense I’m open to all food trends but my own style is important.
TOTN: Where do you go to eat?
Argos: Well, we are working the whole time so we don’t get out to eat much. In Palma we go to Santa Catalina for the pizza at Il Tano. It’s a simple Italian, it looks basic but the pizza oven is fantastic so the pizza dough, and the focaccia is superb. Hanaita the traditional Japanese also in Santa Catalina is so authentic and the menu stays the same, they know exactly how to make their food. Canela, in Palma is also great. The best meal I’ve had in a while was at El Jardin in Puerto Alcudia.
TOTN: There aren’t many restaurants of this calibre in the north; it’s great that you’re here.
Argos: There are rumours of other big chefs coming to Pollensa. But nothing confirmed. I think it would be great for both the town and for us to have more.
TOTN: What local ingredients are important to your menu?
Argos: there are a lot of local ingredients that we love. The Rock Samphire (sea fennel), the spices and black pork for example. Then the local eels are delicious. We have them delivered live so we know they are fresh. It takes three hours to prepare them and there’s very little on each eel, so it’s a lot of work for very little, but it’s worth it! The pepper, Tap de Corti is great and we use it dried and fresh in marinades. We tend to buy as locally as possible. Our fruit and veg guy is on a finca between here and Pollensa and we’ve developed a great relationship.
The team at Argos are so dedicated to fine food and offering something that little bit special, they are a young team with energy and determination. On the other hand, it’s hard to convey just how much of a surprise the Michelin star was for them. They have had two years of some seriously hard work and ‘mucking in’ with the running of the hotel and it’s fair to say that it’s paid off. Now they have the chance to carry their prized star forward into 2017. But what is very important to both Chef and Mario is that Argos remains accessible to people in Puerto Pollensa, they are still going to offer their casual friendly service, they are keeping the young, vibrant and international feel, prices are not going to go crazy. In fact they intend to continue the way they started, after all, it clearly works. Book your table soon because the phone has been ringing off the hook since the Michelin star announcement.
Argos opens for dinner Wednesday-Monday, 7pm-9.30pm.
+34 971 86 59 02