restaurants around Catalunya
Hello, I am planning a trip to Barcelona/Catalunya. I want to try at least one of the best restaurants - would you recommend Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mar, Can Fabes in Sant Celoni, or El Cellar de Can Roca in Girona? Thanks for your help!
I thought I had replied to this, but my comments aren't here, so (as I've been to all three):
PBSF's response accurately described the places - but my opinions/ratings differ.
My meal at Sant Pau this year was my best meal in the last 10 years. Currently firing on all cylinders.
Can Fabes (for me) was the most disappointing. I found it more formal and more 'traditional'. It reminded me more of 'French Cuisine' than "Spanish' - NOT that it is French - but the whole feel is very different than anywhere else in Spain (I did experience something similar in Gaig (Madrid), but that was years ago).
Can Roca is certainly more experimental - I guess it depends on how many experiments work! On paper I expected this to be my favourite, but the reality fell a little short. BUT I would happily return for another attempt.
Be a little cautious with blogs - see what they thought of places you know. For example, I've met Andy Hayler (great guy) but his taste in food is VERY traditional. I joke that I'll rush to any restaurant he pans and avoid those he recommends (of course, there are exceptions - but very few).
Les Cols is fairly new and beautiful. I have not had a chance to eat there. Definltey on my list when the budget allows and am in the mood to drive from Barcelona. If it is your first trip to Barcelona and Catalonia, I would choose between your original three choices. It is difficult enough to make a decision without bringing in more choices.
It depends what you are looking for:
Sant Pau: modern yet not molecular; food has a delicate touch and beautifully presented; each course has a theme and variations. I love dining room overlook the garden and wonderful service. Base one my single meal couple years ago, the total experience great but the food did not have a lasting impression.
Can Fabes: the most conservative and almost reactionary toward molecular cooking. Every plate of food is well conceived, great depth of flavor yet refined, the cooking precise and the ingredients impeccably sourced. Excellent cheese cart. The desserts are good but not spectacular. The service is more formal than the other. Lunch can be very low key as it is located in a very non-descript town. The two dining rooms (small traditional one in the original house and modern one in the newer addition) are beautifully furnished but have no windows, therefore, it can feel a bit closed in. If it is just the food, this is probably my favorite restaurant in Spain.
El Cellar de Can Roca: the most molecular of the three; there will be a miss or two on the long tasting menu but the rest will be terrific, especially foie gras, oysters, seafood, goat, suckling pig. Their use of the smoker, especially on seafood, is a revelation. The desserts are some of the most creative: trip to Havana, desserts name after perfumes or based on a single color. The wine list and wine service is one of the best. The young wait staff is not as polished as Can Fabes or Sant Pau. This is my favorite high-end restaurant in Spain because the food is creative and mostly terrific and there is a lighthearted fun about the place.
There will be endless debate as which one is better, etc, etc. There is usually no consensus. I would take time to read some of the high-end dining blogs such as Andy Hayler, Gastroville/gastromodiale, chuckeats, opinionated about dining. You will find very detail reviews that will give a good picture of each of the restaurants. They will parse food to minute details but unless you are a restaurant critic or a high-end restaurant aficionado, pay less attention to that and more to the type of cooking and the ambience. When it comes to 3 star restaurants, each one has an unique personality and much to offer. It is to match the restaurant with your expectation.