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Barcelona in October - Please Critique!!

Hi all!

Ive been planning me and my wife's week-long culinary excursion to Barcelona in October 2012 for weeks (maybe months) now! Here's our current itinerary and Id love some feedback. We want to try a good mixture of molecular and "traditional" cuisine. I should also note that since this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips, cost of the meals is not a concern.

Day 1: Dinner at Hisop!
Day 2: Dinner at El Celler de Can Roca in Girona. (Already secured reservations so this one is confirmed.)
Day 3: Tickets! (I just hope I can get reservations, my back-up plan is 41 Degrees. Ive read conflicting reviews on 41Degrees, has anyone done their tasting menu recently?
Day 4: Open for now. Thinking of lunch at Comerc24 and dinner at Alkimia. Thoughts?
Day 5: Gelonch or cinc sentis ?

Then we head off to Sevilla for 4 days. If anyone has any recommendations for Sevilla Id appreciate it as well.

THANKS!
f.

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  1. Based on my experience earlier this month it would be a mistake to follow dinner at Can Roca and dinner at Tickets with Alkimia the next night. There's no ALC, it's more tasting menus and it just isn't going to live up to the other two. Perhaps Tapas, somewhere like Cal Pep, or a Catalan restaurant with an ALC menu?

    Sevilla: La Azotea was a wonderful meal for us and I would definitely go to Enrique Becerra for classic tapas. Then Zelai perhaps for lunch - it wasn't as good or consistent as the other two but still enjoyable.
    If you're looking for big hits there's always the El Bulli hotel if that's still doing the El Bulli classics menu.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ManInTransit

      Thanks for the reply!

      Agreed - we do wanna try some of the more catalan restaurants and more tapas and pintxos whilst in Barcelona to balance the meals a bit.

      And from what Ive researched, sadly the El Bulli Hotel is no longer doing the classics menu. Thanks for all your suggestions!

      f.

    2. I agree with ManInTransit about following Can Roca with Tickets. Neither are to be missed, but if you can, shoot for your Tickets reservation on Day 4. The only one on your list that I would reconsider is Alkimia.

      Alkimia is a great restaurant, however will be wildly trumped by the others. My problem with Alkimia is the same as a few other Michelin stared places out there, where the chefs are making exuberantly bold stokes, however creative they may be, and salvaging the actual quality of the dishes. I was disappointed by many of the dishes I had there.

      You are certainly missing a Catalan "down and dirty" place, which you mustn't. I highly recommend you contrast the others with a place like Bar Ramon, Mam i Teca, or Cal Pep (I recommend these in that order).

      Also you may want a nice tapas crawl. Start at one of the Vermut places on c/ Magdelenas (there are three on this street), then head to Zona D'Ombra (c/ Sant Domenic del Call, 12) for some delicious Croquettes and an Iberico plate, then to Bar Zim (c/ Calle Dagueria 20) for a glass of wine and cheese plate, then to La Plata (c/ Mercré, 28) for some Butifarra and other Catalan classics, then finish off by fighting for your bar stool at Cal Pep. Just a suggestion.

      Finally, go with Cinc Sentis over Gelonch, especially if you are interested in trying some fantastic Spanish wine. The Spanish wine pairing at Cinc Sentis is amazing! The food as well is terrific and quite different for the others on your list.

      Enjoy!

      12 Replies
      1. re: Neoyorquino

        Thanks Neoyorquino on the excellent suggestions! We're definitely gonna do the tapas crawl and based on all the feedback this is what the plan looks like now:

        Day 1: Dinner at Hisop!
        Day 2: Dinner at El Celler de Can Roca
        Day 3: Tickets!
        Day 4: Lunch at Comerc24 and then a late-night tapas crawl. Looks like we'll be having tapas all day. ;-)
        Day 5: Leaning towards Cinc Sentis.

        My concern about possibly moving Tickets to the last night is that their reservation system really doesnt allow for anyone to be too picky about when to dine there. I hope to try to get a reservation for each of the nights we're there and I hope to get lucky on one of them with a reservation. Really is on our Must Go Under Any Circumstances list.

        If anyone has any other suggestions please do share - got loads of time to plan.

        Thanks again!
        f.

        1. re: friskygeek

          Regarding Tickets....they release their reservations (two months out) at midnight local time. So if you can be up at that time it isn't too hard to get a spot-and I did a couple of dry runs (not booking, but checking availability on the system) before the date I wanted came up. It seems that most time slots for each day are taken within a number of hours of release.

          1. re: friskygeek

            I definitely would not recommend Cinc Sentits, disappointing experiences in both of my two visits. As a local I could suggest many other restaurants but this. Have you considered a more traditional choice? Feel free to ask ;)

            Salut.

            1. re: catAlan

              CatAlan: Welcome to Chowhound.

              I would like to hear your recommendations, from the perspective of a local. I'd also like to know the details of your disappointing meals at CS.

              For Sevilla it might be more helpful to start another, thread. There is already a fairly recent one with some good ideas for eating in that city. (I've rented an apartment there for a week in the fall, so will be eager to read any new recommendations..)

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/835939

              1. re: erica

                catAlan, Id also be interested in hearing more about some of your suggestions, and also about cinc sentis.

                Thanks Erica for the link to the Seville thread. Loads of good recommendations there.

                1. re: friskygeek

                  While we're waiting for catAlan, my 2 cents on 5 sentits:
                  I also was disappointed - specifically, my biggest issue was the maple syrup shooter that starts the meal (incidentally a clumsy taste, lacking the 'higher' notes of the syrup I'm used to). That taste lingered through the first several courses, spoiling them for me. The meal itself was 'fine' - but not a wow (e.g. I enjoyed Gresca much more) - service was more casual than I'd anticipated and I recall being disappointed with the wines - although, to be fair, I don't recall exactly why.

                  My speculation was that English-speaking visitors feel very comfortable there as English is spoken 'perfectly' - making for a comfortable overall experience - but the food didn't stand out for me.

                  1. re: estufarian

                    Hi all, sorry for delaying, communications over here are quite slow ;)

                    I completely agree with estufarian. My point is that when I visit a Michelin-starred restaurant (not a priority for me) my expectations are quite high, and in both visits to 5Sentits I left the restaurant just thinking "another among hundreds". No surprises with courses, neither with the quality of food.

                    In my personal ranking, a much lower experience than Alkimia, Saüc, Hisop... and many others.

                    1. re: catAlan

                      Thanks for the reviews on 5centis. Ive removed it from our plans and we're leaning towards a tapas / pintxos crawl. So if anyone has some recommendations for those Id be delighted! Neoyorquino above gave some great recommendations and we certainly are going to try those.

                      Thanks!
                      f.

                      1. re: friskygeek

                        I think Neoyorquino is leading you in a good direction with the tapas suggestion, especially with the vermouth suggestion (all three places are called Cala del Vermut, doesn't matter which you choose) But I disagree about Cal Pep at the end of all that. I think that could be a little much - either waiting to get in only to order a few dishes or eating several dishes after an evening of tapas. Instead you might try Tasca el Corral on Merce for some cabrales and sidra and/or Bar Celta for some octopus and light Galician wine. You could end that evening with a walk past the marina to P. Joan Borbo for excellent argentine-style gelato from either Fratello or Voiko.

                        1. re: caganer

                          On second thought, caganer is absolutely right. I got a little over excited about the places when I wrote that! :)

                          Cal Pep would be too much after all that, and is best for another night. I second all of caganer's recommendations.

                          Another one to add, in the case that you want to head to Barceloneta, there is a place called Can Paixano (a.k.a the Xampaniría) which is on a small street on the way to Barceloneta called c/ Reina Cristina. Almost always packed with people, this rowdy cava bar offers you an extremely authentic experience as you can feast on a wide selection of sandwiches with meats fresh off the grill and enjoy some very inexpensive cava. This is a good place to try roasted Morcilla (blood sausage)!

          2. re: Neoyorquino

            We went to Bar Ramon and it was awesome! We had bread with tomatoes and oilve oil, octopus salad, grilled eggplant stuffed with vegetables topped with jamon serano, steak with foie gras, padron (flash-fried peppers) and papas bravas, It was all delicious and including two cokes and three waters (too much wine the night before) it came to 36 euros. The atmosphere is very casual and old school. It was packed at 11 pm. I would definitely call for a reservation. Thanks for the recommendation, Neoyorquino.

            1. re: suekrag

              You are very welcome suekrag! I was so delighted when a friend put me on to Bar Ramon and am happy to share it! I especially love the Galician style octopus (Pulpo a la Gallega) and the fact that they mix the two local beer together, 50% Estella Damm with 50% Vol Damm. One is a lager and the other a double malt. The result being a great refreshment to accompany all of the tapas!

          3. trip to Barcelona cancelled after 911.
            I'll be in Barcelona soon so I appreciate the suggestions here.
            just took a photo of the OP ideas.

            1. So - with our trip approaching fast getting very excited about our culinary adventure! Here;s the final itinerary:

              Day 1: Dinner at Hisop!
              Day 2: Dinner at El Celler de Can Roca in Girona.
              Day 3: Tickets!
              Day 4: Tapas and pintxos crawl...
              Day 5: 41 Degrees

              Yum!

              2 Replies
              1. re: friskygeek

                Not sure you can fit in another meal - BUT I just checked your profile and note your great meals at Per Se & Eleven Madison Park.
                I just got back from Catalunya and one of my best meals was at Sant Pau - which is the most similar to EMP (and Per Se) in format. Also a Michelin 3* and about an hour train from Barcelona. Classic Catalunyan food. Superb wine matches too (but you would have to do lunch (?Day 4)). Tasting menu is fantastic.
                HOWEVER if common sense prevails (or your clothes are unlikely to fit after all the other meals) then consider Moments (in Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona) for lunch. Their prix-fixe 3-course lunch is €45 and is a bargain (4 courses for €54) and the menu is designed/conceived by Carme Ruscalleda - the chef at Sant Pau.

                1. re: estufarian

                  Thanks for the Sant Pau recommendation and yes Ive had others tell me to check it out too... But somehow I just couldnt get that in given our hectic schedule. Unless we add one more night and cut down on our visit to Sevilla and Granada. Cant eat all the time ya know. :P

                  I already got rid of Mugaritz from our planned itinerary and will be doing a proper Basque Country tour later - perhaps next year.

                  However, I didnt know about Moments - will definitely try to check it out! Thanks for the recommendation!

                  f.