Thanks all for the great Barcelona food tips. We are still traveling in Spain but wanted to write up our review of our two main meals in Barcelona. On Saturday night we ate at Hisop and on Monday we ate at Moo.
9:00 reservation. We were the first couple there but a few others walked in around the same time. Small neighborhood restaurant with only 10(?) tables. By 10:30 all the tables were filled and server commented that they don't turn over any tables. The decor is very sparse - nothing on the white walls and just a single flower on the tables. I kind of liked it but the wife didn't (she was also sitting facing the wall).
We ordered a Catalonia Red wine. I gave the server a couple of choices in the 30 Euro range and she recommended one that was her favorite. It was definitely very good and held up throughout the meal.
The menu consisted of a tasting menu (5 courses) for 49 Euro or an ala carte. Based on the ala carte the prix fix is a good deal and it appeared thats what most tables ordered - we did make one substitution which they were comfortable with.
Muse Bouches: the first muse was a pea soup with cockles. This was very good. I tend not to like cockles but the strong pea flavor really balanced it well. The second muse was a salad of cuttle fish with oyster sauce and truffles.
First Course: "After Eight" foie gras. We weren't sure what After Eight meant until the dish was served - it refered to the mint chocolates. There was a mint foam and some chocolate shavings. The idea was very creative and the flavors worked amazingly well together. Unfortunately there wasnt enough of the mint and chocolate taste. you really had to focus on the foam to get the mint. Also the piece of foie was huge. And while I enjoyed eating it all my stomach wasnt happy 3 hours later. Also it could have used a piece of toast to assist.
Second Course: john dory with artichoke soup and artichoke puree and caviar. This was probably the best main course. Great piece of fish. amazing artichoke puree wrapped in prosciutto. Definitely a dish that needs to be eaten all of its components together as individual pieces were a bit salty (prosciutto) or briny (caviar) but melded perfectly overall.
Third Course: This was the substitution. The wife had the standard pork belly with chocolate and porcini mushroom. overall very good. I substituted the Rabbit with hazelnuts and chocolate. There was a hazelnut bombom on the dish that was simply divine - so incredibly smooth.
Fourth Course: Cheese. By far the weakest. 7 cheeses served. All were unmemorable. the only thing we really liked was the quince jelly. would have preferred less cheese with more accompaniments.
Palate Cleanser: Mojito with lemon rum sorbet. Amazing. Perfect flavors. Great creativity. But I think i offended the waitress when I said this was my favorite ;)
Dessert: Green tea passion fruit jelly? Not bad but were a bit confused by this. However it was a good light dessert after a heavy-ish meal.
Service was very good - basically shared between three waitresses. No problem with the fact that we don't speak Spanish. The meal last about 2.5hrs but we also lingered at the end. The portions were quite generous and we were happy to have a 40min walk back to our hotel!
Compared to Hisop very different decor. Off the lobby of the modern ohm hotel it had a very "chic" feel to it. We got there at 9:00. A few people were seated already and about 7 tables came in after us (never filled up) which I would imagine isn't bad for a Monday night.
There are 4 tasting menus as well as an ala carte. The wife wasn't as hungry so she did ala carte while I did the "seasons" tasting menu (70 Euro). We appreciated that they let us split like that considering I had 5 courses and she had 3 - she took off my second and fourth course.
The wine menu was very extensive though impossible to navigate. I asked the sommelier where the local wines were. He pointed me to the page. They were divided by region with no description of the grape break down. I randomly picked a few under 40 Euro asked his preference and he picked one. It was very good but I think I liked the one at Hisop better - though held up well and worth the price. I get the impression the restaurants dont mark up wine like they do in the US. The one California wine he had (which I was familiar with) was appropriately priced.
Muse: snacks of croquettes - foie gras & chocolate, cheese and pear, truffle, and shrimp chip. Each was a great bite that burst in the mouth - exactly what a muse should be!
Muse 2- Carrot salad on one side and what i think was squid salad with a jelly on teh other. I did not care for the squid though its not my thing and the wife did like it. The carrot salad was very nice and had a nice bitter note in it.
First Course: (mine) (spring?) Lobster ravioli with sweet potatoes and carrots. the lobster was excellent - very generous. Very fresh pasta on the ravioli. I found the carrot & sweet potatoe puree a bit sweet for my taste. Also the dish wasn't very hot (something that happened a few times). (wife:) Leek cod soup. Great dish. in the soup was cod puree with a leek wrapped around it. Also a piece of cod filet in the soup. Again could have been a bit warmer.
Second Course: (Summer?) My second course was the leek cod soup. A bit better temp.
Third Course: (Fall?) Rice with thrusts and mushrooms. Not a risotto. Very nice and earthy. I really enjoyed. Mushrooms had a great meaty taste - dont know what kind they were. Wife had sea breem with artichoke and truffle. Generous shaving of white truffles and also a black truffle sauce. Excellent fish. Great artichokes (we had great artichokes all weak in Barcelona)
Fourth Course: (Winter?) Pork with artichoke and root veggies. Pork was medium rare which as an american weirded me out. very good hearty course. Not much to say as it felt like a very typical course - meat with root veggie hash and a nice sauce. well done.
Dessert: Chocolate and tangerines. What it sounds like - various chocolate things (cake, mousse) with candied tangerines and a cointreau sauce. Wife had musicians dessert. She had no idea what it would be and I'm not sure we know what it was but it was excellent. Had marshmallows, icecream some crunchies and other stuff. very whimsical and refreshing.
Service: I felt service was a bit off. It was much stiffer and formal than Hisop. A few times we were without wine or water in our glasses and actually had to ask for the rest of our water to be poured out. Fairly comfortable with English though Hisop was better mainly bc one waitress was Canadian.
Overall I preferred Hisop while the wife liked Moo. I think she ordered better at Moo and that definitely helped. The tasting menu at Moo was more composed (a definite progression) but was also 20euro more. I preferred the ambiance of Hisop, the wife Moo. There was something more intimate about the smaller room at Hisop and the fact there was no decor really made you focus on the meal while I found myself people watching more at Moo.
Both were very molecular (compared to the bay area) and I may even call Hisop moreso, though perhaps Moo used it better. Moo felt more appropriately restrained where Hisop was trying more things with not always to perfection (mint foam). If I lived in Barcelona I could see going back to Hisop b/c the tasting menu is a great deal but would not hesitate to try Moo as they changed around their menu.
Overall can't complain about the food and if this is just a smattering of the restaurants - you all are lucky.
Thanks for the tips,