In recent years Barcelona has had to mourn the passing of great chefs like Santi Santamaria and Jean Luc Figueras, the departure of Jean-François Ferrié – which meant the end of the great temple to gastronomy that was the Maison du Languedoc – and now the retirement of Jean Louis Neichel, a pioneer in so many areas. Each loss has distanced the city from cooking in the true French tradition. However, it’s not all bad news. There remains the success of Fermí Puig and his eponymous restaurant, a link connecting us to French cuisine, now much maligned by avant-garde chefs who have decided that it belongs to the past.
Fermí Puig is beautifully appointed, the service is impeccable, and it’s always full – and there’s a good reason for that: their cooking respects classical techniques and admits only the highest-quality ingredients. Then it wins you over with flavours, techniques and execution, and finally clinches the deal when the time comes to pay the bill: adopting a formula that has long been traditional in France, Fermí Puig offers a varied and excellent set menu for €35.
The last occasion I visited Fermí Puig happened to be the first day they opened after the winter break. We were pleasantly surprised by a samfaina (Catalan ratatouille) that garnished an unbeatable capipota (stewed calf’s head and foot). We continued with a botifarra negra (blood sausage) that recalled the boudin noir of Les Halles in Paris, with an excellent puré de patates.
I admire the courage of chefs who include poached eggs on their menu. But Puig had gone one step further, and included two soft-boiled eggs, served with prawns and worthy of a prize. The jugged wild boar was the only game dish on the menu – it was the first day after the Christmas holidays – but regulars at Fermí Puig enjoy the best game in Barcelona. Scottish red grouse, quail and venison emerge from his kitchen as if blessed. The wine list is intelligently put together, steering clear of cliché, thanks to the keen nose of Fermí’s business partner, Alfred, once maitre-d’ of the formerly famous Drolma restaurant
|Venue name:||Fermí Puig|
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sat 1pm-3.30pm, 8.30pm-11.30pm|
|Transport:||M: Gràcia (FGC)|
|Price:||From €35 to €45|