Sol Post is located in an outstanding natural setting. Like a watchtower overlooking the sea, the restaurant is set on the terrace of hotel Cala Saona and welcomes customers who come to sample its wonderful food and enjoy one of the best views of Formentera. The restaurant is run by a young team: Joan Costa (owner), Mauro Rivas and Armand Vidal (head chefs) and they have created a space that fuses Mediterranean and Latin American food while using the finest local produce.
Joan Costa grew up surrounded by the catering sector. He was just 15 when he started work as a waiter, but he didn’t take long to realise that cooking was his passion. After studying at the Hoffman School in Barcelona and learning his craft alongside renowned chefs such as Ángel León, he is now in charge of his family’s restaurant, Sol Post, where each year the bar is set higher in terms of the food. He explains that, slowly but surely and with no great pretensions, “it’s a long-term project, something far more ambitious than just doing the season. “We want to consolidate a strong team and put ourselves on Formentera’s food map. When someone thinks about fine dining restaurants on the island, I’d like us to be among their first options,” Costa continues. “I don’t mean featuring in food guides or reviews, but I’d like to position us in the short and long term, whatever comes in the future. Our only ambition is do the best we can and for us to enjoy the project,” he states. Costa explains that the idea of Sol Post is “to create a really great atmosphere so that diners don’t just come to eat, they come to have an experience.”
We want to consolidate a strong team and put ourselves on Formentera’s food map
The joy of youth
After the break imposed by the pandemic, Joan, like many other restaurateurs on the island, found himself facing a worrying shortage of professionals. He had to use all his contacts and rang old colleagues, contacting Clara Campoamor, now head pastry chef at Sol Post, who put him in touch with Mauro Rivas. Rivas joined the project, alongside Armand Vidal and his brother, Arnau. They form a young team that is notable for its desire to show off what they are capable of doing together.
Rivas was born in El Salvador and trained in the United States, finishing his studies in Switzerland. After his first internship in a hotel, he realised what he really loved was haute cuisine. He worked in several haute cuisine restaurants, such as Alma in Lisbon, (two stars) Niño Viejo, Hoja Santa, Mont Bar and Cinc Sentits, where he was head chef and met Armand Vidal.
“At the beginning we had a difficult relationship,” says Vidal. “We had no real connection and didn’t know how to work with each other. Finally, we found a way to connect: he helped me change what he saw wrong in me, and vice versa. He knew how to make the most of my skills and I knew how to show him how to guide the team to get the best out of everyone,” he explains. This union ultimately led them to run the kitchen at Sol Post together.
Unlike Rivas, Armand Vidal grew up in the kitchen of his family’s restaurant. His schooling consisted of working there from when he was a boy (serving coffee, making churros con chocolate) until he moved into the kitchen. This experience helped him understand what a large-scale business is from when he was very young. He had the opportunity to travel with his father and together they opened a restaurant in Portland (the United States). At 20, he decided to expand his work experience outside the family business. He did internships at Michelin-starred restaurants (such as Els Tinars and Coque) where he started to learn about the world of haute cuisine. He and his brother, Arnau, also worked in Madrid with Ramón Freixa. He returned to the family business with all this experience for a “change of scene”, later joining the Cinco Sentits team, which would lead him directly to Formentera.
Tradition, devotion and innovation
Rice, fish, seafood... The recipes at Sol Post are based on the island’s culinary tradition and are inspired by Vidal and Rivas’ experiences around the world. Latin American flavours are a highlight: little touches that radically change a classic dish. “We wanted to serve traditional dishes but our aim was to make customers feel as though they’d never eaten them before.” The starters at Sol Post are bold, flavoursome and rock and roll. “We use produce in the mains in a more straightforward way: rice dishes are made the same way as always, following the same timings, bases... And as well as tasting good, we take great care over their presentation,” explains Vidal.
“I’d never used as much produce as I do here,” says Rivas. “Customers come to Formentera looking for produce: lobster, langoustines, caviar... Joan is a great help in this area, he guides us because he knows what people here want. And they want produce, produce, produce. People don’t want a menu with 20 dishes but no lobster or rock lobster and we want to respect that, while also putting our personal touch on the menu,” he states.
Customers come to Formentera looking for produce
Aside from the restaurant, where service is more refined and customers come for a true gastronomic experience, Sol Post also has a chill out zone where you can enjoy the sunset with cocktails and snacks. Here the food is more playful – finger food style – although Rivas emphasises that they always want to provide top quality dishes. “Both in the chill out zone and the restaurant. If we make a hamburger, we want it to be the best hamburger, with high quality meat, home-made sauce... We care equally about the fine cuisine and the sunset zone. We just want to do this well and without rushing. See what we’re capable of. We don’t have ambitions, but we’d love it if people came to the island to discover our cooking, as well as for tourism,” Vidal concludes.