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barcelona in mid-december

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Will be in Barcelona for the first time--arriving mid-December, staying for 5 days @ the Hotel Duquesa de Cardona.

A California friend who's a wonderful chef who was there in '03 suggested the following restaurants--would love to know if they're still there/still great (we love all kinds of great food--steer to local/authentic--less into foam, et. al.)

Alkimia, Calle Industria 79, 08025

Ciudad Condal, Rambla de Catalunya, 18, 08007

CalPep, Placa de las Olles, 8.

Abac, Carrer Rec 79-89, 08003.

Restaurante Botafumeiro, Gran de Gracia, 81, 08012.

In addition to getting your view on these five, would be eager to know if there are other restaurants that you'd rate more highly.

We're very excited about coming to this great food city. Many thanks!

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  1. Alkimia was fairly new in 2003 and has gotten better and more assured.
    Ciudad Condal is one of the many lively tapas place on the lower parts of the Eixample. Food is decent to good. Give it as try and if you are not taken by it, just move to another nearby place. Cerveceria Catalana around the corner on c/Mallorca is a bigger version. There many just as good or better places for tapas.
    Cal Pep is an institution; won't change as long as Pep is there holding court.
    Abac is no longer on Carrer Rec but move to Hotel Abac up in Tibidado about 3 years ago. The excellent chef Xavier Pellicer left shortly and is now heads the kitchen at the 3 star Can Fabes in Sant Celoni. In my opinion, nothing currently in Barcelona can match the food at the old Abac.
    Botafumeiro is a classic Galician seafood place. Expensive, large, bustling and old style. Haven't been there in number of years but from my friends in Barcelona, the same as now.
    There have been many earlier posts on the above places. Search this board for more comments on them as well as for many other recommendations.

    1. Our stay in Barcelona was too short to claim any level of expertise or perspective. I will say that Cal Pep was a BIG disappointment. I am sure that in 2003 it was special. I suspect that today it is still a great experience if Pep is behind the bar. But alas, the day we went. he was working the restaurant at the back of the building.. And the staff at the bar were nothing special. which was appropriate for the food - which was good, but nothing special. We waited 45 minutes, for good but not great food, and the bill clearly reflects a mercenary pricing policy to capitalize on the cult status the restaurant has achieved among English speaking culinary tourists. I've got to believe there are countless places with similar quality food, at a much better price. That is, perhaps, an overly harsh commentary, and I will accept criticism of it, but I truly felt this place was living off past reviews.

      The most interesting tapas we had in BCN was at Quimet y Quimet. It also has achieved cult like status among professionals we know and gastro tourists - but in this case it is warranted. I will turn you off with my next comment, but it is exactly why you should go. Much of the ingredients on the tapas they serve comes out of cans and jars. From what I have learned, that is far more common than most enthusiasts would like to know, but it is unabashed at Quimet. Virtually every professional chef I know who has gone to Barcelona comes back raving about the place. Suspend your disbelief and go!

      Again, recognizing that I am definitively not a Barcelona expert (heck, I've only eaten 8 meals there), but we had a fantastic meal at Robert Gelonch. If you search that name on this forum, and on www.egullet.com, you will see a lot of comments - most of them exceptionally positive. Today, he is running what appears to be a neighborhood restau that is getting a LOT of buzz among culinary tourists. (i.e. the kind of place your friend had on their list in 2003). But I suspect he will be running a much bigger, much more expensive place in another few years- if he chooses to. He is that good.

      In addition, we enjoyed a meal at Fonda Gaig, and El Quim de la Bogueria in the Bogueria market was a much better experience, and less expensive than Cal Pep. Our experience at Comerc 24 was disappointing.