Finally had the opportunity to secure reservations at both Cinc Sentits and Alkimia for a recent trip and wanted to share my comparison.
Cinc Sentits never fails to surprise me. Even though the Sensacions Menu has not changed since my visit last month, Chef Jordi modified the menu for a different experience. All I can say is WOW!!! We all know the foie gras and truffled potatoes are great, but do not miss the scallops by request. Another great experience with fantastic food and superior service.
Alkimia was a different experience. First visit so I had the traditional menu, but added the prawn from the longer tasting menu since I wanted to try the signature dish. Service was better than expected since some here have had bad experiences. One staff member stood above and beyond the others. Very friendly and even suggested to substitute the lamb shoulder dish for a seasonal dish....hare with foie gras. The dish was the highlight of the meal. My guest really enjoyed the risotto in the langoustine course. Overall, the food was very good with more emphasis on presentation than taste. Though the staff rushed through the explanation for each dish, but had a photo fo the written menu to reference.
THE VERDICT...Cinc Sentits is by far the winner compared to Alkimia. While both places offer modern Catalan food, the food at Alkimia is more rustic. The flavors are more complicated and better executed at Cinc Sentits. Both places have their highlights and signature dishes, but overall, the food transitioned better over the course of the meal at Cinc Sentits.
FYI, another great establishment in the El Born area is Senyor Parellada. The paella dish and pot soup are just delicious. The pineapple with catalan creme brulee is always a winner. Great food for the value, but mostly caters to tourists. Barcelona has some excellent restaurants, and I look forward to trying more on my next visit.