Time Out says
If you're afraid of falling into tourist trap restaurants of questionable quality in the centre of Barcelona, try heading a bit away from the madding crowd for a tasty treat. 'The centre is so crowded. You've got to go uptown a bit, breathe clean air and get some peace.' That's not us talking but the Milanese cook Fabio Gambirasi, who, along with his partner, Roser Asensio, opened the restaurant Mala Hierba at the end of 2016.
Asensio studied naturopathy and lived in a permaculture community (based on the patterns of the natural ecosystem). She met Gambirasi (on the Camino de Santiago!), who carried a backpack of years of experience in Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy and a mountain of stress. 'We wanted to build a highly eco-friendly and sustainable restaurant that serves up healthy food, and all that comes along with that,' Asensio says.
And although after you hear a declaration of such clear intentions you might tend to have your guard up, you'll lower it once you cross the threshold into the wild charm of Mala Hierba. This is the site of the old Casa Fausto, way up in the Carmel neighbourhood, just near Creueta park (where the owner and chef go to find fresh herbs). Casa Fausto first opened as a bar in 1946, and later became a complete restaurant. Today, Mala Hierba has a garden on the rooftop, where they also grow their own ancient spices and aromatic herbs.
The cuisine is worth the trek uptown – even the herbs and flowers they gather work their way into the dishes in much more than mere decoration. And it shows, in dishes like the excellent, succulent and light cod cooked at a low temperature with a fish and pepper sauce, and infused with marine fennell and purslane. And their gazpacho, made with tomato, beetroot and flowers, also convinces.
Gambirasi is a creative chef who likes to surprise. 'I don't cook Italian or Spanish. If I have to label what I do, I'd say I like cuisine from the countryside.' Still, the Italian-ness is evident in a dish like the mussel ravioli – note it's created with home-made pasta – stuffed with gorgonzola and topped with a yam sauce and watercress. Plus it's great for finishing up with bread and pleasing the nose. Same goes for the the battered squid with caramelised lemon strips – gorgeous. The menu is is brief but outstanding, with no extra padding just to fill it out. And the excellent set lunch menu gives you great value for money. Between dishes you can cleanse the palate with edible flowers. Take the time to head up to Mala Hierba to breathe fresh air and dine on fresh food.
Funoses Llussà, 2
|Transport:||El Coll i La Teixonera (M: L5)|
|Opening hours:||Mon closed; Tue 1pm-4pm; Wed-Sat 1pm-4.30pm, 8pm-11pm; Sun 12.30pm-4.30pm|