Barcelona has a wealth of eateries that have improved over the years. Many are back on the map after having been forgotten, and some have the added bonus of having modernized without going over the top, to catch up with the demand for good quality products that their clients want. One such case is Agut on C/Gignàs, one of the first good restaurants I found when I came to Barcelona in the ’70s. It’s where I was introduced to alioli and since then I’ve been greatly impressed and sometimes disappointed. I was chuffed recently when I ordered the alioli in Agut found it to be just as good as the day I first tasted it. This example (and please forgive the excessively personal experience of it) is proof that there are restaurants who work to put quality before marketing and sales. And you can really tell the difference in a place that puts that kind of care and attention into what they do.
Where the wild things are
The day I went back to Agut also reacquainted me with veal brains a la Roma that I thought had disappeared from the culinary scene altogether, and some beautifully cooked frogs legs and breaded Prat artichokes. I spotted a neighbouring table enjoying a warm salad of duck gizzards with foie gras vinaigrette and an aubergine flan with goat cheese. My second course was an excellent dish of baby beef ribs with breaded artichokes. The good-quality beef is well-cooked and comes with an even better presentation. Try the boneless pigs’ trotters stuffed with two types of Catalan botifarra sausage and served with truffle sauce, and the oxtail stew always comes recommended. Another recommended dish is the duck breast with cranberry sauce, and I did a double-take when a waiter passed me with an interesting-looking dish of braised lamb cheeks with aromatic herbs with baked potatoes. But where Agut really hits the mark is with its fish dishes. The diners at the next table were showing all the classic signs of food love over their cuttlefish ‘burger’ with sautéed artichokes, one of the suggestions of the day, and over their grilled squid with onion-packed morcilla sausage and pine nuts.
The fine touches start with maître d’ Javier, through to the well-distributed dining room. While you’re perusing the menu, they’ll bring you something to get your palate going, like the brandade with toast brought to my table that day. The desserts are homemade, varied and beautifully presented. As for the wine list, it’s full of power and imagination, and good taste – and the various DO labels are not all expensive. In Agut you’ll find the stand-out cuisine and chefs, dishes and servers, and service you can’t always get around town – and all in beautiful surroundings, where the walls look like a high-end art gallery.