Barcelona - Help!
My husband and I are leaving for Barcelona very shortly and I wanted to contact the concierge at the hotel to have them make reservations for us, but between this website, recommendations from another website and the hotel's recomendations, I'm a bit overwhelmed. After going through the hotel's recommendations, we had come up with the following as definites for lunch: El Mirador and La Fonda (with our other two lunches to be chosen on the fly). We will be there for four nights, so for dinner we had been thinking: Alkimia, Comerc 24 and PLA (we still need to come up with a fourth). Can anyone let me know if we're going in the right direction with choosing these places?
I also made a reservation for Can Fabes, but I think we are going to have to cancel as we are not renting a car and I am not sure what time the trains run until. Any input on this from anyone?
Together with some other professional chefs and foodie friends I ate at Cinc Sentits on Monday. The Sensacions tasting menu was truly sensational. Yes, it's ingredient-driven by Jordi Artal's obsession for produce as local and fresh as possible, but when you cook as well as they do there's no need for gimmicks. I thoroughly recommend it.
Rarely pipe up on CH, but after a few days in Barcelona, I have 1 really amazing suggestion, and 1 warning...
Suggestion - Meson Jesus (C/Cecs de la Boqueria 4, Barri Gotic) Nowhere near the Market, as the address would have you believe. It's in the Gothic on a bit of a side street. 10 euro 50 for maybe the best lunch we've had in the BCN so far. Starter, main, split of wine, dessert all included.
Simple, family owned place, and the food? Dare I say perfect.
Had the gazpacho, chicken and catalan creme (creme brule), and we moaned through the whole thing. A must try. Almost forgot about the Ham-based red sauce over my macaroni. Really different, and yes, there's ham or pig products in everything in the BCN...
Now, the warning.
This place has been rec'd by several sites and folks on CH, so we gave it a go.
Total shite, from start to finish (and this is one person's experience and meal, so don't jump up my ass, telling me I'm wrong, etc... My wife has worked for a James Beard-award winning chef, and I consult for several restaurants in LA).
1) Charged 1 Euro for bread - sorry, it's bread. Don't gross me on bread. And yes, I'm a stupid American, and I should have looked first, but I'm always a bit shocked by this tradition.
2) Paella first course - overdone, including almost burnt mussels, gristly meat and generally tasteless. I'm all for authentic, but this seemed hasty.
3) Fried cod second course - cold, VERY greasy and my wife refused to eat it - mushy.
How bad was it really?
Her quote to management when asked if she'd like something else - "Honestly, all I'd like to do is go brush my teeth...". Tasted like she was eating a hunk of grease that someone had waved a fish over - maybe.
4) My pollo second - pieces of a roasted chicken, picked off with someone's fingers, doused in olive oil & herbs de provence, with a side of chunks of potatoes. Average, at best. I ate half.
5) Dessert - mine, a pear, halved in a bowl, and soaked in what tasted like Pepsi. My wife's neopolitan cake needed a knife to saw through it. The pastry was tough like an overcooked steak.
When we complained to the server, we got "What do you want ? It's cheap!"
Mgmt was kind and took almost 10 Euro off, which was nice. After one amazing meal at Meson Jesus the day before, this was more than a disappointment.
We rarely bitch about food, and we understand that average food happens. Shite food should not, and this was SO bad, I had to post.
All that being said, this town is serious about it's sweets and ice cream. My dentist is going to love me upon my return to the trembling City of Angels...
This it probably too late for the original poster, but for future reference, I would have to agree with djmedi4 about La Fonda. It is an incredibly touristy place--geared more towards backpackers who want to have a "nice" dinner out. I went there many years ago when I was touring Barcelona for the first time as a college student and was on a budget. It served its purpose then but I would not recommend it to a foodie looking for places to eat. There are plenty of affordable places that offer more authentic, better food. La Fonda should definitely be taken off the chowhound list of recommended places in Barcelona, if it was ever on it in the first place.
You can't go wrong at both Alkimia and Commerc 24. For tapas, I AM a big fan of Cal Pep. For lunch tapas, go to the Boquería Market, but eat at El Quim. For more traditional Catalan 7 Portes is a classic, better for lunch (great paela). And for traditional at dinner, El Botafumeiro is also a classic.
We were very happy with Alikimia and Cinq Sentits, but if you can only do one I would pick Alkimia. You may also want to consider trying one high-end traditional Catalan restaurant for a change from the cutting-edge. For this I recommend the one-star Michelin rated La Dama. The food is really wonderful and the art nouveau decor and old-school service add to the pleasure.
The comments so far look good to me. Pla is a Med/fusion restaurant popular with many tourists. Both Alkimia and Comerç 24 (where I am a chef de partie) are El-Bulli derivatives serving very modern tapas rooted in local Catalan tradition. Cinc Sentits would be a good choice if you want something similar. If you have a sweet tooth, try Espai Sucre (check it out on the internet). I have to dash off now, but I'll suggest some less expensive places tomorrow. One really important thing is that many restaurants in Barcelona and most of the best are closed on Sunday and Monday.
You choices are all good and has a balance of modern and traditional Catalan cooking. Since seating through two large meals a day is too much for me, I would consider tapas/pinxto places for couple of light meals. Quimet & Quiment, mentioned on the above post is very good but it is somewhat out of the way in the residential Poble Sec. Other good places that have been covered on this board including Paco Meralgo (despite the popularity is excellent), Cal Pep which I am not a big fan, Taktika Berri for great pinxtos, the atmospheric Bar del Pi and El Vasco de Oro and the places inside the Boqueria.
If you do not have a car, you would have to take lunch at Can Fabes as the last return train is around 22:30. It is an easy commute; check an earlier thread on getting there. If you do have the time and the budget, it is well worth the effort.
I would add "Quimet&Quimet" for a different twist on "tapas" (they are more like Pinxto than actual tapas).
It's very, and literally a hone in the wall place, small, friendly, standing-up eating and drinking.
There is also "Cinc Sentits" for something similar ...
Also Moo and the Oom hotel (of the Roca brothers)