16 August 2011

One to Avoid - El Ayoun, San Rafael, Ibiza.

This is the first in the new One to Avoid series on the Ibiza Photo website. Ibiza is full of wonderful places to visit however the island is let down by a number of venues that serve horrible food, employ rude and arrogant staff, rip off their customers or generally just give the island a bad name. It is disappointing that most of the commercial websites give unrelentingly positive reviews to these places so I'm going to try to balance things out a bit with this series aimed at warning people about Ibiza's worst venues........

Beware of this garish multi-coloured camel, if you
see it you should be prepared to pay over the odds
for average food and poor service.

The reason I am starting off the series with El Ayoun in San Rafael is my personal experience of the dishonest and arrogant nature of their staff.

I work as a freelance photographer and have taken publicity shots of numerous venues for different websites. Normally staff are perfectly happy for me to wander around for ten minutes or so taking photos of their venue, it's free publicity for them after all. When doing photographic reviews of restaurants I always use a powerful zoom lens so that I never have to disturb customers at their tables, I know I would be uncomfortable with people snapping photos of me during my dinner, so I try to be as discreet as possible to avoid inflicting the same discomfort on others.

During my first visit to El Ayoun in San Rafael, the bar manager couldn't get rid of me quickly enough, telling me to return on Friday or Saturday night when it was busier and the restaurant wouldn't come out looking half empty in the photos.  Having done a number of restaurant shoots I know all the tricks to make a half empty venue look full, after all, the commercial websites I work for don't want pictures of an empty venue contrasting with their glowing review of the place. I tried to point this out to him but he insisted that I leave and come back later. I gave up part of my weekend to drive halfway across the island to do the photoshoot on a Saturday night but upon my return, the restaurant manager treated me with contempt, accused me of lying about being told to come back and kicked me out of the venue.

For the few minutes that I was actually inside the venue I picked up a lot of information, the majority of the clientele were the kind of people that clearly get a kick out of flaunting their wealth, the staff are contemptuous and rude and the restaurant itself is garish and inauthentic, a crude mix of different styles.

I spoke to a few friends and family about the rudeness of the staff there and the ones that had visited El Ayoun agreed with my view that the clientele are stuck up, the venue inauthentic and the staff rude. They also added that the food and drinks are hugely overpriced. As I didn't eat there I have collected a few testimonies from other people that have stayed long enough to find out how overpriced the food is.
"Service non professionnel....Cher et nourriture moyenne" (unprofessional service, expensive and average food) - pierre56Larmor_Plage
"My carpaccio was drenched in truffle oil which dominated the flavour. One starter was a single prawn. The Coquilles St Jaques came in a sort of liver-flavoured gravy. The Couscous Royale, despite being told was all separate came piled into a big bowl together. And my friend's Tagine portion was about 4 inches in diameter - tiny" BenbowH
 "Our waiter [was] rude, cocky and took the piss when he told us our taxi was waiting, only to discover a large queue outside with no taxi in sight - he clearly just wanted the table back - and he also completely forgot our deserts! hence the 25 min wait." McNamKB
"My credit card got a hammering" Gina 1000000
To be fair to El Ayoun several people claimed that the food (especially the sushi) was delicious however the foodie reviews slated them. I'm not the kind of person that gets a kick out of spending over €100 per person on a meal, but if I were I reckon that the food should be of absolutely stunning quality with impeccable service. It is clear that at El Ayoun there is some discrepancy between the price and the quality of food and service.

Scientific studies have shown that price has a large influence over how much people enjoy things; one study showed that people enjoyed a glass of wine from a bottle marked $90 significantly more than one from a bottle marked $10 even though the contents were identical so it is understandable that people would claim that they enjoyed the food because the venue tries to be very "exclusive" and the eyewatering prices must stimulate the medial orbitofrontal cortex pleasure response cited in the wine study. I imagine that it is much easier to make a show of enjoying ones overpriced meal than admit to yourself that you have spent around €100 per person on average fare.

One thing that really struck me was that several reviewers admitted that El Ayoun is extremely expensive, however qualified the statement with "Still, that's Ibiza I suppose". I find this qualifier infuriating because as a resident of the island I know a number of quality venues that serve great food at reasonable prices. If you know where to head, a meal out in Ibiza is no more expensive than an evening out at a decent restaurant in Manchester, Leeds or Newcastle. The common misconception that Ibiza is fabulously expensive is created by the stunningly expensive superclubs (charging €50 just to get in and €10-20 a drink) and by restaurants like El Ayoun that charge exclusive prices for average food and poor service.

If you have more money than sense, don't really care about the quality of the food and service and want to spend a lot of cash and eat surrounded by ostentatiously rich types in order to feel "exclusive" El Ayoun may be exactly the kind of venue you would enjoy.

If however you prefer the quality of the food to be proportional to the price, put a high value on friendly and efficient service and wish to experience an authentic Ibiza vibe I seriously suggest that you try elsewhere.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you here!!! Iv been ibiza about 6 times and find the island expensive but........if you follow the locals.. .example.....I found a spanish resturaunt off they beaten track, they had rabit pork veal in their paella!!! And it took over an hour to make!!! Full of spanish famillies in on a Sunday, and as they say "eat where spanish eat and you won't go wrong" true