Halfway between an art gallery, a museum, a dining room and a concert hall, Ca Na Joana never fails to surprise visitors each year when this impressive restaurant reopens its doors, revitalised after its winter break.
George, a Swiss-born Formentera resident, is owner and manager of Ca Na Joana. Inveterate bohemian, incurable traveller, artist, vocational painter and compulsive perfectionist, Ca Na Joana is the blank canvas where he expresses his tireless creativity and energy, eschewing the conventional. From his point of view, every last detail and aspect of the business is essential to ensure that visitors enjoy a totally pleasurable experience. The food, naturally, but also the environment, decoration, music and human touch of the staff are cogs in a machine that must be continuously oiled and calibrated.
And speaking of the food, Ca Na Joana has a menu that “combines traditional cooking with Japanese cuisine” in a daring, fresh and improbable fusion that very much fits with the surroundings. The typical Mediterranean herbal aromas of tajines, lamb, pasta and local fish make room for Nikkei-style dishes where colour and aromas combine in a symphony of flavours, scents and exotic colours.
The quality of the raw materials is another of the management’s obsessions and it credits part of the business’s success on the exceptional quality of local produce because most of the products it uses come from the Balearic Islands.
Passion for detail
Ca Na Joana is in an old, rural house that has been exquisitely restored and decorated. The eclectic interior decoration style mixes antique influences, colourful oil paintings and watercolours on white walls, bare stone walls, strange, unique and exotic objects, mementoes from far-away cultures and remarkable artefacts collected by George on his frequent trips around the world. It’s a combination that makes diners feel as though they’re eating in an art gallery or antique store.
Outside, the rough, whitewashed walls that are so traditional to the Mediterranean alternate white with intensely colourful bougainvillea that climbs the building: green, white, purple... Large pottery flowerpots with flourishing plants are dotted around the patios and rooms in perfect harmony with the wood and stone rural building, creating a typically Mediterranean pastoral scene.
The lighting at Ca Na Joana is particularly noteworthy because the restaurant opens every day of the week but only for dinner. As a result, considerable care has been given to lighting the restaurant, playing with light and shadow to pick out specific architectural features of the traditional house and to create an intimate, cosy atmosphere, a further example of the management’s close attention to detail.
To round off the experience, evenings usually feature entertainment with the sound of flamenco-jazz fusion played on the grand piano in the main room.
Another highlight is the huge 15 m double bar where you can have an aperitif, cocktail or dinner in a different, less formal way, in line with the electric and ground-breaking spirit of Ca Na Joana.
And one final thing: if you’re a fanciful type and like the restaurant decoration, you’re in luck! You can find many of the pieces on display here, or similar, in the two shops that George also runs, Joana de día and Casa Joana. They’re located nearby and their shelves are filled with unique, surprising and exclusive items that George collects on his international travels.