Sant Pau or Can Fabes
I am visiting Barcelona next month. I will be able to get outside the city one day for lunch. I am trying to decide between Sant Pau or Can Fabes. I assume they are both great choices. If anyone can give me their impressions of either or both, it should help me make a choice.
Having only been to Can Fabes, I cannot give you a comparison, but I can say that this was one of the best meals we have ever had (having been to a number of Michelin 3-stars).
Can Fabes is the only Michelin 3 star in Spain that is not doing some form of molecular cooking. Some may find it conservative but chef Santimaria uses the best ingredients in his intrepretation of Catalan cuisine. It is also the most consistently excellent of of any of the top restaurants in Spain. Each course of the tasting menu is well thought out and simply presented. The food always have a depth of flavor which is not always the case in most highend Spanish restaurants. It is located in a non-descript town outside of Barcelona. Lunch, especially on weekdays, is very low key and the service is somewhat formal. . There are two dining rooms, a small traditional one with a few tables and a larger modern extension which has a view of the kitchen.
Sant Pau is located in a seaside town and the restaurant has a nice view of the garden and the ocean. The cooking is modern Catalan and chef Ruscadella has a light poetic touch to her food. Each course has a theme and variations. My one lunch there was very good but none of the food strike me as truly memorable.
I am going through the very same dilemma, traveling to Barcelona next month and trying to decide between a lunch at either Sant Pau or Can Fabes. I have done some research outside of Chowhound and came across a few blogs. Among the blogs I found, there was a Korean foodblogger who had amazing pictures. Although most of it is in Korean, he writes the names of the dishes in English so this might help you get a feel. Despite the language barrier, I think his photos are worth at least a quick browse. Unfortunately, at Can Fabes, they didn't have an English menu so he wasn't able to write out the names. He took a picture of the menu though so that might help.
Just to summarize, this particular food blogger went to most of the top restaurants in San Sebastian and Barcelona and just based on taste, he considered Can Fabes to be tops. Based on his blog, and the opinions of others, I chose Can Fabes.
Hope this helps!
If you haven't yet reserved, you can also get to Can Roca (in Girona) for lunch. I found this far more interesting than Can Fabes (which seemed more French than Spanish to me).
I was too late to book at Sant Pau, so can't compare that - but I did the train to Girona and back easily in the same day.
Fair enough! Of course it isn't French - but the whole style was definitely apart from anything I found in Spain. And compared to other Catalan food it seemed MUCH more upscale.
My friends who are francophiles ALL preferred Can Fabes. I found it disappointing overall, especially considering the price - it was the most expensive place I visited in Spain.