Restaurants & Bars 5

Yet another Barcelona report; Divine dining!

Mikey | Oct 27, 2003 05:13 PM

I am still reeling over the stunningly delicious restaurants of Barcelona. This is a city dedicated to fine taste, design, and cuisine similar to Paris but on a much less expensive scale. The food is sublime! I extrapolated articles from Elle Decour, Food and Wine, Chowhound, the New York Times, and Zagats to pick the restaurants. With only 5 days in the city, I had to make the best of my time. One restaurant highly recommended on this site turned out to be an absolute gem. The restaurant ABAC is located near the Barrio Gotic on a small street. The flavors are so unreal. I truly had the best roast suckling pig I've tasted in my life. We were also served similar mushroom soup and shrimp with celery puree that were amazing. In addition, it is mushroom season right now, so every restaurant featured mushrooms on the menu. I tasted a rare mushroom, orange in color, called Huevo del Rey. Heaven on earth. Never could I have imagined flavors like that coming from one mushroom. Also worth noting were the sea bass and the soaked rum cake with cinammon ice cream. In addition, why get champagne when you can have the best Cava in the world for a fraction of the price? Every menu in Barcelona features what seems like hundreds of different Cavas. For 28 dollars, the Bertha Cava was amazing. Also try Llopart.
Next, we adored a restaurant called La Balsa. Now this is not for everyone. It is not trendy or sleek like some of the others but serves wonderful old style Catalan cuisine in a gorgeous setting among terraced gardens in the hills looking over the city. The tony neighborhood is quite something but I will say that La Balsa is not for everyone because it is quite a "scene". Some may be turned off by the large tables filled with the posh and beautiful people of Barcelona. Everyone was excruciatingly well dressed, some draped in diamonds, and all in very jovial moods smoking cigarettes constantly and enjoying the good life. I loved it! We ate more mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and garlic, croquettes, rack of lamb, veal scallopini, and fabulous desserts. A tremendous dining experience with the friendliest service imaginable. The food may not have been as refined as the others but the whole atmosphere is why you go.
I cannot rave enough about a restaurant called Sauc. We were greeted as we left by the chef Javier who was genuinely thrilled that we came all the way from the U.S. to eat at his restaurant. This is some seriously, stunning food. My roasted venison with figs in a port wine reduction was so mouth watering that I could not stop moaning. My dining parnter ate fish encrusted with pork rinds and a sauce of rosemary and orange. Sounds bizarre but the combinations were sublime. We also had frozen crema catalana and figs in lavender soup. I am still dreaming about the food at this restaurant.
Of course you can find tapas in the afternoon at any time on almost any corner. Don't shy away from sitting at the bar with a beer and ordering all the specialties. In case you're not sure just ask the bartender. Croquettes are always good as is the tortilla espanola.
The newest culinary hot spot right now is L'orangerie at the Gran Hotel La Florida. Make a reservation ahead of time and plan to get there early so as to walk around the grounds. This is truly an experience not to be missed. The hotel is a throwback from the 1920's recently refurbished to impeccable grandeur. The views from the top of the hill of the entire city cannot be beat. The restaurant features some of the most imaginitve and refined cuisine in Barcelona and it is over the top elegant. Make sure you try the rack of lamb roasted in a clay shell that is broken at the table for you. The lobster salad was fresh and filled with flavor but our favorite was the gazpacho with strawberry puree. A highlight was a tasting of various Catalan dessert wines.
For the old world, traditional Spanish cuisine with waiters in white dinner jackets and black tie head to 7 Portes in the Port area. All the standards are there; paella, calamari, shrimp in garlic sauce. This is the place to get the real thing without any pretense.
On a different note, don't miss a tour of the Palau de la Musica Catalana. Also, one day was spent touring the vinyards and the Cava companies which is so worth the hour drive. You can see Freixenet and Cordoniu as well as smaller operations. I can't remember the name of the restaurant in the little town but I do remember the food as being exceptionally delicious. For a small town restaurant, this was one of the best. I will find the name and report back.
My only regret was not having another week to eat more good food. My mouth is watering now just thinking of the food.

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