It's always newsworthy when someone from Valencia cooks up rice dishes in Catalonia, as is the case at CruiX, where you'll find Valencian chef Miquel Pardo, along with Carlos Rodríguez, from Valladolid, in charge of the front of house and wines. Full of youth and testosterone, the staff are seven guys under the age of 30 who work in this former Chinese-Galician bar that's been converted into a modern and popular eatery, with a tasting menu that won't cost you more than €40.
Pardo says that after working for years in Michelin-starred restaurants, he wanted to create a space where his friends could eat. What brings Valencians together more than anything else is a good paella in the middle of the table, some cold beer, fun and curiosity. Like a great rock song, the menu explodes with a selection of dishes that are hard to get out of your head and that show that CruiX has the potential to crush the competition, creating popular food with a haute cuisine background, as Can Boneta and Mitja Galta have done.
Pardo didn't want his restaurant to live and die by paella, but he did want it to be an important dish, and he set up a tasting menu that deserves a round of applause. And it also happens to be the set lunch menu (which changes weekly), with three tapas from the menu, rice and dessert for around €16. And even better is the creamy Peking duck croquette – the bird is roasted and glazed, and there's a touch of kimchi and mint – and a salad of roasted leeks with smoked teriyaki eel and honey (the smoky/spicy relationship here is magical, like in their roasted broccoli with chicken tandoori sauce and spicy cheese).
According to Chef Pardo, in one spoonful of the brothy rice, you notice everything: the crunch of the fine rice as well as the strong flavour of the broth. This is pure paella – maybe not in the recipe itself, but definitely in spirit. Don't say no to dessert: a prize must surely need to be invented for wonders such as Curryoset and Dia Trist a la Platja (Sad Day at the Beach), ice cream cones with melancholy names but also with a delightful base of chocolate.