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ElBulli Booked - What Instead in Barcelona?

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Can't get a reservation to ElBulli--which isn't even in Barcelona, but we would have made the trip to go. I have to say, I'm curious about Adria and Catalan avant-garde (molecular gastronomy and all that), but short of some foams and gelees that I've seen here in New York kitchens, I'm a little baffled by the cuisine.

BUT, that's all the more reason to try a wacky restaurant in Barcelona when I'm there. One that is typical of this movement and something I'd be able to tell friends back home. Would be willing to do a restaurant that is expensive and fancy, though perhaps not as astronomical or decadent as ElBulli. What are the best restaurants of this ilk in Barcelona? I'm going in March, and there will be two of us dining.

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  1. The best alternative is El Celar de Can Roca in Girona (good train service to Girona, but last train back is at 9:00pm so only real option is lunch).
    However, if you are only in Barcelona, try Moo in the hotel Omm (I know, this sounds like a joke, but that's really the name). It has a few dishes in common with Can Roca (same owners, but the chef is in Girona) and has some excellent ideas.
    Another place is Espai Sucre which is along similar lines except they ONLY serve desserts (OK you may get a savoury dish included in their dessert tasting menu). Don't be fooled - this is a COMPLETE meal of (mostly) desserts - multi courses - not a place to go for a snack or pastry.

    1. I would recommend cinc sentits.

      1. I went to Cinc Sentits last week, and the food, while excellent, seemed a bit more serious and less experimental/innovative than I was expecting. It seemed like the perfect place to take super-fancy clients to impress them, but not a cutting-edge food laboratory like El Bulli seems (not that I've ever been).

        We got the tasting menu with wine pairings, and it was very, very good. Just a bit sober in style.

        1. Go to El Raco de Can Fabes - it's another Michelin three star between Girona and Barcelona. We had an amazing meal there - but it's not what you'd describe as molecular gastronomy. We ate in the Espai Coch bit of the restaurant and had the 4/5 course set menu, which is good value. It's also worth going for their recommended wines - we were served their house wines (from their own vinyards) which were excellent. The Espai Coch has smokey floor to ceiling windows which look into the kitchen - so you can also watch the Guvnor, Santi Santamaria, in action. www.canfabes.com

          1 Reply
          1. re: Theresa

            I assume the Espai Coch is the older more traditional looking room. We asked to be seated there, as it was much more charming than the front room, but no tables available.

            Also, to the OP, don't totally give up on El Bulli - doesn't hurt to shoot them an email once in awhile 'just checking' - let them know you're really determined!

          2. No - it's very modern, with smoked glass walls between the table and the kitchen. I think the main restaurant is more traditional, with the original stone walls.

            1. commerc 24 has the experimental menu you are looking
              http://www.bcnrestaurantes.com/barcel...
              catalan new cuisine to a really high standard try the menu degustacion and it matches what you would have experienced at El Bulli but is conveniently situated in el borne

              2 Replies
              1. re: shug

                I considered Commerc 24 on my last trip but consistently bad reviews on other boards led me to drop it from my list - and recent reviews have been similarly disappointing.

                1. re: estufarian

                  There's also Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mar. If you go for lunch you can get the train there and back (about an hour each way). http://www.santpau.jp/english/index.html Their aperitivos and desserts mini menus (part of their menu degustaciones) are really interesting and imaginative. I'd also ditto the suggestion of Espai Sucre and the recs against Comerc 24. Gaig and Can Fabes are prob more traditional than what you want. Abac is worth considering - excellent - but perhaps not experimental enough. Alkimia and Hisop are two smaller, very 'design' restaurants that go down the experimental route.

                  Kirsten
                  www.saboroso.com