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Jul 20, 2011 06:14 AM

Barcelona- Cinq Sentits, Moo or somewhere else?

I am a chef who will be in Spain in September-Barcelona, San Sebastian and then we are meeting friends in a small town in the Rioja. We have our San Sebastian meals planned out - Arzak, Extebarri, maybe Narru, lots of pinxtos. But, we have 7-8 meals in Barcelona and I only have one reservation-at 41. I know we will return to some of my favorite tapas places (Paco Meralgo, Tapac 24, Cal Pep) but I would like to add 1 or 2 nicer places to the list. I have eaten at Comerc 24 and Espai Sucre so i would like to try somewhere new.
What would you recommend? I was looking at Cinq sentits and Moo but am open to other suggestions.
Also, does anyone know the name of the restaurant across the street from the Hotel Claris? It was recommended to me, but I don't have the name.

Espai Sucre
Carrer de la Princesa, 53, Barcelona, CT 08003, ES

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  1. If you have an afternoon free, instead of Moo, consider taking a train to Girona and have lunch at El Celler de Can Roca. Moo has improved since it opened about 5 years ago but still not close to being as good as Can Roca. Another plus is that Girona is a beautiful town, worth a visit. As for others in Barcelona, the usual suspects are Cinc Sentits, Alkimia, Hisop, Gresca. Not quite as modern are Colibri and the very expensive but excellent Drolma. Cata181 is very good and a great value. One of my favorite is Sauc but I have not eaten there since they moved from the Eixample to the Hotel Ohla on via Laietana. Another favorite is Gaig , one of two or three best restaurant in Barcelona. Can't go wrong with any of the above. I had very good dinners at the less expensive Toc and Coure this May.

    6 Replies
    1. re: PBSF

      Thank you so much for all of those suggestions. As much as I would love to go to Can Roca, it is my husband's first trip to Barcelona. We have a lot to see in a short time, so will probably stay in Barcelona.

      Unfortunately 3 of the 4 days we will be there are Sundays and Mondays (Sunday-Tuesday, then Monday again before we return home) so that may really limit our choices. Thank you for giving me so many!

      1. re: EAB

        You are right that Sunday night is difficult as just about every chef cooking in modern Catalan restaurants wants the day off. Since PacoMeralgo is on your list, that takes care of that problem. Monday is much easier. My choice would be Gaig or Alkimia. Carles Gaig and Jordi Vila, both immensely talented and dedicated, have been running their respective restaurants for years. Unlike many newer places where there is a sense of work in progress, all aspects, service, food, ambience are fully realized. For me, they both give a feeling of a special night out. The food at Cinc Sentits is consistently good and the Artel family are the nicest people. After 3 meals there over the years, I've found the restaurant to be somewhat bland and formulistic, especially now that they offer only two tasting menus. Most on this board really enjoyed the place, therefore, I wouldn’t hesitate to make it a first visit.
        If you cannot make it to El Cellar de Can Roca, Moo is good substitute if you are interested in the Roca Brothers’ cooking. It is difficult for me to be objective having been to El Celler about a dozen times in the past ten years. My first dinner at Moo when it was just opened was forgettable. My other meal was just two years ago; the food has improved immensely and was very good. The food is less complex, especially the courses before the main plates and the desserts. These are the courses that are the most 'creative' at El Cellar and I think what sets it apart from Moo. Also the tremendous wine knowledge and generosity of Josep Roca at Ell Celler. Given the 'molecular' label of the Roca brothers, the main plates at El Celler have always been quite straight forward (invariably cooked sous-vide though occasionally in his smoker) but they are always terrific. The ingredients are top-notch, fatty tuna belly, sweet sole and skate, suckling pig, baby goat, pigeon. The main plates at Moo came pretty close. If you do dine at Moo, instead of simply taking the “Joan Roca tasting menu”, tell the captain that you couldn't make it to El Celler and ask him for his recommendations. There are always a few 'classic' El Cellar on the a la carte menu such as foie gras with apples and vanilla, clams with black trumpet mushrooms, smoke tuna belly, squab with red fruit, goat belly with goat's milk. And if there are Jordi Roca’s signature desserts on the a la carte menu: “perfume” inspired, postre lactico, cromatismo (a series of small desserts based on a single color) or Trip to Havana, see if you can substitute a couple of them.

        1. re: PBSF

          Thanks! Those desserts sound really interesting. I am a pastry chef so I think we will definitely try Moo. I stayed at Hotel OMM about 2 years ago and was going to eat there, but it was August so the restaurant was closed.

          I think we will do Paco Meralgo, Cal Pep, Tapac 24, 41, Moo and either Alkimia or Gaig. We will also have 1 or 2 meals wherever we are when out touring, one possibly at La Cova Fumada in Barceloneta.

          1. re: EAB

            El Celler de Can Roca has some of the most interesting desserts that I've encountered in Spain. Mostly fruit base and generally light but satisfying. Not much in terms of pastry. Hope some interesting ones show up at Moo.
            Too bad that La Cova Fumada is closed Sundays, the best day to be in Barceloneta. Looks like a great trip.

            1. re: PBSF

              For a Sunday lunch, where would you recommend in Barceloneta? Should we make reservations?
              Also, how do Gaig and Fonda Gaig compare?
              And finally, what is the best spot for traditional Catalan food?

              1. re: EAB

                Most of the restaurants in Barceloneta serve similar menus of platters of simply prepared seafood and rice dishes. These are what local families eat when they do their Sunday midday meals.Other than that Saturday and Sunday afternoons, except for a few (La Cova Fumada and Can Mano for example) that caters to residents of the neighborhood, they can be deafeningly quiet. Can Majo is one of the most famous and popular, good as anything else there but cost a little more. I would go to Kaiku, Suquet de l'Almirall or Can Ros. Even less expensive but not cheap is Cherif. I had mentioned that La Cova is closed Sundays, but do check if you are considering it. Closings do change.

                Gaig is the famiy's flapship restaurant. Modern Catalan with some molecular techniques, This is where Carles Gaig most likely will be in the kitchen. Fine dining without being formal. Fonda Gaig was open about 3 years ago by the same family. One of the very few restaurants opened in the past 10 years that serves traditional Catalan food. Large, bustling, less formal and a lttle less expensive.

                As the popularity of modern Catalan cooking and the tapas/pinxtos flourish in the past 10 to 15 years, restaurants that serve traditional Catalan food has suffered. The cooking of many of them have become tire.

                For expensive, around 60 euros for 3 courses, the above mentioned Fonda Gaig, Roig Robi or Casa Calvert would be my choices. I have eaten twice in each of them.

                More moderate, PLA (sister of Bar di PLA) and Cafe l'Academia are quite good.

                There are many places that serve inexpensive everyday Catalan food. The mentioned La Cova and Can Mano in Barceloneta where I never spend more than 10 euros including glass of house wine. Up in Gracia are Envalira, Sureny or Bodega Manola.