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Casanatalia. Carles Abellan’s most intimate project

Casanatalia. Carles Abellan’s most intimate project

Carles Abellan © ffmag

Mediterranean cooking with Catalan and Balearic flavours and a menu with tapas that is designed for sharing. That’s the concept created by Carles Abellan at casanatalia, the restaurant he runs with his wife Natalia in Sant Ferrán de Ses Roques. After more than two decades at the head of many successful culinary projects, Abellan brings all his experience and know-how to casanatalia with the aim of making the “customer feel at home” in his restaurant.

 

What projects do you have on the go at the moment?
Right now, we’re totally focused on casanatalia, our restaurant in Sant Ferrán de Ses Roques. We open every evening and it’s my most personal, intimate project. My wife Natalia and I run it together. And now we’ve also got Charly’s, the new bar with live music from the 70’s to the 90’s that we have opened underneath the restaurant.

What does Formentera mean to you?
My relationship with Formentera began 18 years ago. I've always come here a lot on holiday. It was my sanctuary. I didn’t plan to open a restaurant in Formentera but the pandemic caught us all off-guard, I had to close restaurants in Barcelona and I opened this one because I wanted to spend a lot more time on the island. That was my excuse. Whenever a door shuts, a window opens. Formentera has been an unexpected project but Natalia and I thought hard about it and decided to open it so would could settle here. And still be able to run all our restaurants from Formentera. The pandemic changed the way people live and work. And now we’re seeing major changes. Lots of people have moved to the islands because we’ve got a great quality of life here, which you don’t have in big cities like Madrid and Barcelona. And that’s really appealing.

Meat, potatoes and padrón peppers. Casanatalia. Formentera

 

Do you live permanently in Formentera now?
I live permanently in Formentera but go to Barcelona a couple of times a week because I still have two Tapas24 there. And I have another one in Singapore. I've also got a few projects with Grupo Manero, which has three restaurants in Alicante and one in Madrid.

What type of food is served at casanatalia?
Casanatalia focuses on produce. We cook Mediterranean food, with Catalan dishes and recipes from the island. The menu features all the products that are the essence of these types of cuisine, from tapas to soups and stews.

Can you remember how many restaurants you’ve had during your career? How is casanatalia different from all the others?
I've had 21 restaurants in my career, since 2001. Casanatalia is the result of all the restaurants I’ve ever set up. It has that ethos of sharing dishes around the table, with tapas, which is very typical of us, it really characterises us and is how I actually like to eat... That’s the soul of casanatalia.

 

Casanatalia is the result of all the restaurants I’ve ever set up

 

What is Natalia’s role at the restaurant? And yours?
Natalia is the host. She greets the customers and is in charge of hospitality. Together we make the restaurant personal and intimate. We run the restaurant ourselves. We want people to feel really welcome, as if they were at home. We both have public-facing roles, I work in the kitchen, the dining room... Natalia is mainly responsible for the dining room. And people who come here end up becoming regular customers.

As a businessman, what do you miss on an island like Formentera?
Lots of things are missing on Formentera. Starting with a marina. That’s essential. But it’s also missing more year-round businesses. Especially in winter, to make those months more enjoyable so you aren’t just stuck at home, you could be in the village more (cafés, bookshops, some theatre or film screenings...) That’s why we opened Charly’s: to give the island something it didn’t have, a cocktail bar with live music where you can enjoy a fantastic drink with really good service and a great atmosphere. I think it’s different from other bars on the island. We want it to be top quality.

Terrace casanatalia. Formentera

Will Charly’s open all year round?
I want it to be almost all year round. It’s still in its infant stage, we’ve just started, but we’re planning to open until the end of November, stop for a couple of months for some time off, and then re-open in February.

Do you have to be really brave to open all year round in Formentera?
Yes. It’s difficult. But there’s a lot of movement in Formentera. Lots of ex-pats, as I call them: people who have settled on the island. There’s more and more, and that’s why I believe there are customers...

What are your future plans for casanatalia?
We’re constantly evolving this home-cooking style restaurant, it’s so us. Our plan is to make it better and better. Serve better products, have better service and be excellent value for money. We don’t want to go crazy with the prices, we want to keep the restaurant stable. Our wine list has over 800 wines but at Barcelona prices, not the prices you see in Formentera. We want casanatalia to be a high-quality restaurant and, most important of all, for customers to feel at home.

How do you see your future as a businessman? Do you have lots of projects in mind or would you like to slow down a bit?
I never stop. But I go at a different pace now, compared to ten years ago, for example. Now I’m more focused on the projects I already have. At the moment, my only future plan is to open more restaurants in Asia with my partners in Singapore. Not here in Spain, for the time being. We’ll open things with Grupo Manero, but I’ll have another role: as a consultant, director of food...  But when it comes to my own businesses, what I have is more than enough.

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