I was in Barcelona in June 2012 for a week. Short trip short notice that had me scrambling on the forums for thoughts and comments a week before we flew out. Really appreciated what everyone shared here, special thanks to PBSF who had plenty of excellent recommendations and wise words.
Highlights of the trip were 41 Degrees, Tickets Bar, Sant Pau and El Quim.
41 Degrees & Tickets Bar thrilled and delighted, spent most of the time marvelling at the thought and creativity that has gone into the food. 41 Degrees is a real experience - 50 courses consisting of bite sized snacks, including edible cocktails. Tickets Bar is a much more casual affair and probably one I would have gone back to again within the week if I could get a spot. The miniairbags stuffed with manchego, fresh razor clams in escabache, the feather light mollete with double chin, the fried egg with truffled duck fat, tuna belly tartare. I could go on and on. Personally I preferred the savoury over the sweets.
Sant Pau was beautiful, the train ride (along the coast) there alone was pleasurable enough. Carme Ruscalleda was a real delight, she made her way to each table and was so gracious. Our dessert consisted of a white chocolate golf ball and a mound of chocolate dirt. The courses were deceptively simple and clean and beautifully plated. The seafood in particular - the crawfish, the king prawn with strawberry, the cuttlefish suquet - top quality, you can't ask for more.
El Quim, a stall in La Boqueria, we went the day after 41 Degrees and the simple prawn with egg dish still bowled me over. The bulls tail risotto was another favourite.
Others which we enjoyed were Cinc Sentits, Koy Shunka and Dos Palilos.
The food at Cinc Sentits and Alkimia are quite similar, but I preferred the tasting menu at Cinc Sentits. Everything was more vibrant but it's a personal preference.
I enjoyed the iberico pork nyumen and lobster tataki at Koy Shunka and I sampled chicken sashimi for the first time at Dos Palilos. They also do a gorgeous iberian pork jowl which is cooked for 16 hours then grilled for another 5. Both places do really good sea cucumbers.
We didn't have much time for casual tapas places but on one afternoon we found ourselves at Ciudad Condal and it was a good experience, striking up conversations with locals over sangria for more recommendations.
PBSF was right, it's quite a monumental feat squeezing in two tasting menus in a day. Given we only had a week I was trying to squeeze as much in as possible to sample as much of Barcelona's offerings as we could, but one tasting menu a day is enough, especially if you're indulging in fine dining on consecutive days. Sant Pau took us a good 4 hours, 41 Degrees took us from 8pm past midnight. I had hoped to make it to Espai Sucre for a late night dessert degustation after dinner at Gelonch but had overestimated my eating capabilities.
Gelonch was interesting (similar style to Cinc Sentits & Alkimia) but having made our way there on our last night, I have to say it didn't wow us but still held its own.
I've put up a small collection of photos on Flickr from the restaurants we encountered in our short trip to Barcelona. When I was doing my research I was quite hungry for photos as food is incredibly subjective. Hopefully this will convince some of you to make that trip to Sant Pau, or to obsessively check the Tickets Bar booking system for last minute cancellations, even at 1am (yes I did that and I did get my booking one week from my trip even though it's currently booked out till December so it's true, they really do free up spots where there are cancellations. Keep trying!)
Also love how fruits and fresh orange juice is everywhere. The cafe manager across the street from our hotel would greet us with "two orange juice"? "big"? just because we were stopping by in the mornings and in the afternoons on our way back. Everyone is really friendly and it's easy to navigate your way around on the subway. I have so much love for Barcelona.
Barcelona has some of the most amazing food I've ever seen. El Celler de Can Roca was one we had dearly hoped to try but it was booked out till November when I rang up.
Thanks again for all the recommendations and after trawling the threads, it definitely filled me with confidence that we had an amazing week ahead of us in the lead up. Looking back, that one week in June is firmly up there as one of my most glorious culinary experiences.