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BCN review - Alkimia, Berri Taktika, Sagardi, Taller de Tapas, Bar Lobo, etc.

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windycity Aug 24, 2011 07:23 PM

These restaurants were the highlight of my trip in Barcelona. I just ate at these places, so the menus should be current.

ALKIMIA - an intimate restaurant that has a 6 course lunch menu for 38 euro where you can pick betwen 2 options for the apps and main (the menu makes it look like it is only 3 courses. Do not be fooled, this place ia an excellent value.) It is ideally situated a few blocks from Sagrada Familia and has a nice wine menu. The meal started with a shooter of tomato water with chorizo, then progressed to an amuse bouche of octopus with sour cream. Then a choice of two salads with fresh greens, small flowers, and a choice of dried tuna or sardines.

For the 1st main, you get a choice of very very tender octopus that is somewhat barbequed with this incredibly slightly sweet, smoky flavor or an almondine chicken roll. Then it is on to a choice of flaky John Dory with baby corn or spicy steak tartare.

For dessert, there is coconut ice cream with rich chocolate cake with dried coconut on top, and then as a final surprise, the restaurant brings out a petit fours tray. There is a hazelnut dome, an almond tart with fig, a lovely refresher of ginger, lemon verbena and melon, and finally, the perfect last bite - an explosion of passion fruit ice cream that's vibrantly tangy and sweet with a good touch of sour. I ate two of these. The restaurant is very accommodating of nut allergies but if you have really really severe nut allergies, you should know that the sourdough bread and the frutos secos (dried fruit and nut) bread are on the same bread platter that goes around. Their bread is delicious, btw. And most of the petit fours have nuts of some sort except the refresher.

My apologies if the descriptions of the food are crude, the menu doesn't list the dishes for the lunch special so all descriptions are mine. So far, this is my favorite place - not a note out of place.

BAR LOBO - a tapas bar by Le Meridian hotel, it has straight-forward and tasty food. The best was the fried artichoke and their lime granita.

SAGARDI - This is a Basque pinxtos place and it's slightly confusing if you haven't been to the tapas places where you grab a plate and load up your plate with bites of food on bread, then the waitstaff counts the toothpicks to tally up your total. We had a bite of sardine on some purple mash, the tuna filled red pepper, a large ham croquette, and a fried fish fritter plus a coke and a cider for 12 euro. A good price for what we got, but my partner was unimpressed.

So we went to TALLER DE LAS TAPAS (2nd night in a row). Over the two visits, highlights included the sauteed spinach with chickpeas and iberian pork cheeks, the bacalao (salt cod)) fritters, the minty salad, and the gazpacho. Avoid the sardines - too salty.

BERRI TAKTIKA - This is supposed to be the finest example of Basque cuisine in Barcelona. Per PBSF, we went to the rear room. Well, it is delicious and hearty. The star was the long bean and white bean soup. It comes in a tureen, and I didn't realize how much I missed warm soup until we had it. Honestly I could have just had a whole tureen myself. We also had an omelette of mushrooms and cheese, which was tasty but nothing special. Then it was onto the main courses of fried pork with red peppers (yes, my partner really picked this) and a duck confit, which I was kinda hoping would be small since duck confit in the US usually is and I was pretty full by then. Nopes, a very generous portion of fall off the bone duck confit with a quince jelly and what I'm pretty sure was Thai sweet chili sauce. Interesting combo that worked. The duck skin could have been crispier but as full as I was, my partner and i ate every last bit.

BOPON - this bakery is really delicious. They have great chocolate croissants, and in addition to having chocolate on the inside, they dip the two horns in chocolate as well. Also had a very refreshing cold honeydew melon soup.

LA FONDA DE PORT OLIMPIC - this is a terrible and overpriced restaurant on the waterfront. The hake with clams was mildly edible, though the clams were disgusting. Like overly fishy and metallic. And the fisherman's paella had way overcooked seafood (dry to the point of stringy) as well as rice that seemed to be liberally doused with ketchup. Lesson here folks: don't ask hotel concierge for a romantic dinner, and plan out your meals well in advance using chowhounder advice. This was a ripoff and not romantic at all, though it was Sunday and most places are closed, and we didn't have internet.

So much more that I wanted to see and eat, and not enough time. Main wish was to go back to Boqueria while the stalls were open (we went on a Monday at 6.) But i did pick up some delicious jellies and jamon iberico.

  1. f
    fbchase Sep 19, 2011 10:50 AM

    They had a foie and gingerbread tapa on the menu at Taller de las Tapas a couple of weeks ago that was absolutley amazing.

    1. d
      drewhuge Sep 1, 2011 09:19 AM

      Cheers for the write up. Big fan of Sagardi, personally. Nothing amazing food-wise, but a great location just up from Vinya Del Senyor, a good people watching spot as PBSF noted, and a nice buzz about the place.

      1 Reply
      1. re: drewhuge
        l
        Luna2308 Sep 2, 2011 04:17 AM

        I agree with drewhuge and PBSF on Sagardi, food is mostly ok, maybe not great, but the location is superb, good start for a pintxos crawl and people-watching...

      2. PBSF Aug 24, 2011 10:16 PM

        Thank you for the write up on your eating in Barcelona. Alkimia is one of the best modern Catalan restaurant in Barcelona and the 35euro lunch is a bargain. Glad that the Basque food at Taktika Berri is still good and hearty. Haven't eaten in the back room in about three years. It is one of my favorite pintxos place in Barcelona. Sagardi doesn't compare but the El Born location is great for people watching in a warm evening. Packed to the outside placa. Good that it didn't cost much. Also that you enjoyed Taller de Tapas, not highly regarded by most. Just never know.

        8 Replies
        1. re: PBSF
          w
          windycity Aug 25, 2011 02:39 AM

          thanks for the recommendations. I feel like we wasted a few meals, but all together, had a great food experience.

          1. re: windycity
            PBSF Aug 25, 2011 07:43 AM

            Except your poor experience at La Fonda de Port Olimpic, you didn't do badly. Unless one is going to a full dinner tapas place such as Comerc24, Santa Maria, Cal Pep, etc, the food at even some of the better tapas/pintxos places can be a hit or miss; frequently the ambience and staff contribute much to the experience. This is especially true to pintxos places where the food is simple and spread out in a big counter. Most locals meet friends, just eat a little with a drink and move on.

            1. re: PBSF
              w
              windycity Sep 10, 2011 11:58 AM

              Thanks for all of your advice. If I had known that the best restaurants were closed in Aug, we might have gone somewhere else and saved Spain for another time but we had a good experience overall.

              I will say, the Euro-dollar conversion slayed us. We should have done more menu del dias to save money. Is it terrible to hope that Spain goes off the Euro? 8oz of soda for 3 Euro/4.5 USD is pretty bad. I am glad I can fulfill my new-found love of Fanta lemon in the US for lots cheaper.

              Would definitely go back on a second visit to BERRI TAKTIKA and ALKIMIA.

              1. re: windycity
                Parigi Sep 10, 2011 03:03 PM

                8oz of soda for 3 Euro?
                In regular grocery stores, it should be between 1 and 2 euro, depending on how touristy the location.

                1. re: windycity
                  PBSF Sep 10, 2011 10:05 PM

                  3 euro for a soda is brutal. Most of the time, wine and beer are a better value. A glass is usually around 2/3 euros and where in San Francisco I can get that? It is a real misconception eating in Spain is inexpensive, especially for big cities such as Barcelona and Madrid. All in all, I think it is still better value than most of the big cities in Northern Europe. Eating tapas and pintxs can be pretty inexpensive but of course one is paying for the no table service, etc. Some of the better modern Catalan restaurants in Barcelona is pretty value comparing to that of Paris or London. The long tasting menu at Cinc Sentits, Alkimia, Sauc, etc for 60euros is very good value. And places like Arzak, El Celler de Can Roca with tasting menu around 150euros; it is one third less than comparable restaurants in France and Italy and even better bargain compare to 3 star places in Paris. It's the euro exchange rate that makes it difficult. And we definitely won't go into a discussion of Spain getting out of the euro on this board.
                  As a visitor for a few days, not too bad.

                  1. re: PBSF
                    l
                    Luna2308 Sep 11, 2011 04:30 AM

                    Hello,
                    Just a little info I found yesterday while researching some restaurants that I haven't visited and might want to go to next month while in October.
                    Saüc has moved to the Hotel Ohla on Via Laeitana, you can find info on the hotel website at http://www.ohlahotel.com.
                    Their tasting menus are now at 64, 84 and 114 Euros...

                    1. re: Luna2308
                      PBSF Sep 11, 2011 09:16 AM

                      Wow, thanks for the tasting menu prices on Sauc. Now that they moved from their simple location in the Eixample to the swanky Ohla Hotel in the Gotic, they decided to offer a choice of tasting menus. Have not had a chance to eat there since the move. If you do dine there, I would love to hear a report.

                      1. re: PBSF
                        m
                        millerla Nov 16, 2011 12:47 PM

                        I think Sauc has lost something in the move. Leaving service out of the equation (we speak very limited Spanish and no Catalan), starter was: sardine, cheese, pickled artichoke, pomegranate. Think these things don't work together? You'd be correct. I ordered the pig confit and was presented with a plate of brown: pig (authentic hoof attached), potato, shallot. There was nothing to break the monotony. Started seriously contemplating vegetarianism.

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