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Short trip report: four days honeymooning in Barcelona and Girona

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El Celler de Can Roca

I won't do a huge plate-by-plate as there are so many reviews but this was a fantastic meal. Some incredible highs all the way through from pigeon to the 'taste the world' bon bons to the bream to the sweet trolley. You can take for granted that service, execution, conception and flavour are all almost flawless. Anyone going here is going to have a wonderful experience. Our only two negatives for us were that the first three savoury courses were all incredibly sweet. Maybe it's our palates but like the signature Mugaritz textures the first was fine but by the third main course we were wondering whether we were going to get any salt or any flavours other than sugar! Also had the effect of filling us up rather quickly.

The second regret was on the wine pairings, I wish I'd had the courage of my convictions and ordered from the list. You get 14 glasses with the pairing and it's reasonable value but it reminded me why I don't enjoy wine pairing because it stuccatos the flow of the meal. I realise this is a very personal thing though. Our bill was I think 540 euros which is steep but for the quality of the experience must rank as among the best value restaurants at this level in the world.

El Quim de la Boqueria

This was wonderful, our very English attitude to queueing meant we had quite a wait but well worth it. Some of the best prawns ever tasted and a wonderful mixed mushrooms dish. Lovely cod and ham as well in a fun if touristy atmosphere. Highly highly recommended for first-timers in Barcelona, really quite stunning. 80 euros with three beers and three cavas but well worth it and you could keep the costs much lower with slightly less cavalier ordering.

Monvinic

One of the trendy new Barcelona wine bars with menus on iPads. Fascinating selection of world wines in small measures and classic small plates (anchovies/croquetas etc) which were very accomplished. There is a full restaurant as well. Lovely modern room too. Despite our efforts in Spanish we got 'touristed' a bit on the service but warmly recommend a drink or two here. Paid about 60 euros for a lot of little wine tastings and a few accompaniments.

Alkimia

A hard one to get straight in my head. Did it suffer from being only 48 hours after Can Roca or was it just quite uninspiring. Had the shorter tasting menu. Some clever dishes like the deconstructed tempura artichokes with pork but sticking out like a sore thumb was the total failure to have any flavour in the artichokes. Felt like the classic 'Michelin' mistake we see all the time in Britain of overcomplication of ingredients and technique leading to a failure to really bring out the flavours of the core ingredients.

I really enjoyed the langoustines with saffron rice, the bream with carrots was also nice and a hazelnut nougat dessert was reasonable. Not a place I would really recommend though. Go big (to one of the out of town 3*) or stick to tapas. Service and room quite staid. Total bill just under 300 euros but that was with some quite expensive wine. Our menus were 65 euros per person.

Quimet y Quimet

If it wasn't for the wonderful wines adorning every corner of this tiny room I'd have been certain I'd been duped into going into a doppelganger. Is this the place everyone recommends and lauds? Everything we ate was not just average but tasted like terribly poor tourist trap territory. The cheeses were the closest thing to a redeeming feature and even they below par. Meat, fish, fois gras like those plastic packeted cheese squares, montaditos... nothing had flavour, none of the ingredients were of the standard we saw elsewhere and then we walked out 50 euros poorer. Perhaps due to the food the vast tourist presence here felt far more oppressive than the fun atmosphere at El Quim. Huge avoid sign from me.

Tragaluz

Chosen as it was next to our hotel before an early flight we were very pleasantly surprised. I realise it's part of a chain but this is a really nice room with superb service and some hits and some misses on the menu. The star was a spicy tomato tartare that was a simply astonishing dish. Taglialini with truffles was good and I had a superb dessert which resembled Tocino de Hielo. Few lesser dishes lacking in flavour including a pretty poor prawn effort and I certainly wouldn't send anyone across town to visit but a very nice little option with few mentions on the board. Our bill came in around 140 euros. Starters are 10-16 and mains 16-28.

More than happy to answer any specific questions of those planning trips.

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  1. Very nice report, thank you. And I scratch head too about Quimet.

    1. Great review of Can Roca! Now Im even more excited for our trip there in Oct!

      f.