Post Barcelona report - Alkimia, etc.
Having profited greatly from reviewing these boards before spending a few weeks in France and Spain, I thought I would give back to the community with a few recommendations for places that I particularly enjoyed in Barcelona.
1. Alkimia. Saw lots of posts here along the lines of "should I go to Alkimia or Cinc Sentits?" We called at last minute to both restaurants, but only the former had an opening, so that decided it for us.
After a few high end meals in Paris which felt very formal, we were looking for something more relaxed but still special. The atmosphere at Alkimia fit this bill well.
We all chose the $39E lunch (although the two more expensive fixed price options are also available for lunch). I give some descriptions below, but if you are interested in pix, cut and paste this link -- https://picasaweb.google.com/lleichni...
Disclaimer -- We were having a great time and did not ask many questions of server about the food, so my descriptions below are a guess and could be incorrect.
Breadsticks. Just want to point out that they were very long and arranged vertically in middle of table, which I think was homage to Sangrada Familia towers nearby.
Amuse Bouche - re-imagination of traditional bread, tomato, sausage tapa. Served in a shot glass, tomato water, olive oil with bread pieces, and topped with sausage. Refreshing on a hot Spanish afternoon.
1st course - goletta (pork throat) with cauliflower and celery root puree. Never heard of pork throat in the US before. As cooked here, it melts in your mouth. Alternative choice was gazpacho, really delicious. Very strong start.
2nd course - macaroni bolognese. Just OK. Alternative course was calamari in black ink with zucchini and squash blossom tempura, which was quite beautiful and more interesting, I thought. But neither choice nearly as strong as first courses.
3rd course - cod with mustard seeds and chanterelle mushrooms. Very earthy and aromatic although too salty for my taste. Alternative course was oxtail, served with a reduction of its own juices and whipped potatoes and baby veggies. I did not get pic of this dish, but it was huge hit at the table. Really melted in your mouth. Lovely.
dessert - chocolate in a mousse like texture, covered with ground nuts (and espresso?), served with blood orange sorbet. Good but not excellent.
petit fours - four courses, to be consumed in following order:
1. lemon meringue gel on a hazelnut cracker. Tasty.
2. candied citrus on chocolate wafer. Graham, cinnamon.
3. palate cleanser in shot glass - cucumber, lemon grass, very refreshing.
4 lastly, white chocolate shell with passion fruit inside. great combo, and great way to finish the meal.
Summary - a delightful meal, especially for 40E. A fellow diner at our table thought the gazpacho was her single best dish in Spain. (Her dining companion disagreed and argued for the fois gras consumme at Commerc24 as his single favorite dish.)
Other Barcelona recommendations:
1. Pitarra restaurant. If you are looking for a thrifty lunch, consider this place. My experience is that there are virtually an infinite number of places in Barcelona that serve mediocre tapas, mostly consisting of a bread slice with something on the top (sausage, sardines, etc). Really boring and the tab adds up quickly. I found even some of the highly rated tapas places (eg, Tapac24) kind of boring and overpriced. In contrast, this was a great find and hugely reasonable. Fixed price lunch for 13E, including appetizer, plat, dessert and a glass of wine. My roasted suckling pig was flavorful but not what I was expecting - very thinly sliced like cheap spare ribs, and the desserts were not top quality. But hey, we spent way more and got way less at other places. Also, my partner's paella was quite savory. I had them give me a large bottle of water instead of included wine, then had half bottle of white with appetizer course and half bottle of red with plats (about 9E per half-bottle). Key location (Old Gothic quarter or just south thereof), yet nearly everyone in restaurant was speaking Catalan.
2. El Pescador. Excellent seafood restaurant. Warning - we biked everywhere in Barcelona, and this place was really much further than we anticipated. By the time we got there, we were uncomfortably hot. So if you are walking or biking, it is really out of the way. The good news is that it is right on a tiny, beautiful plaza. Really romantic on the terrace, if you have kids they can run around while you savor your meal. Excellent service. However, this place is not cheap, most plats at lunch 20-35E, and it does not offer a fixed price menu. But the quality was extremely high. If you are looking for good, authentic Catalan seafood, definitely consider this place. Also, they must have a talented pastry chef, as the desserts were extremely high quality.