Barcelona can easily compete for the title of world capital of gastronomy, thanks to certain chefs who have raised the bar with their world-class dishes. Do yourself a favour and sample some of these sublime creations from chefs whose job it is to wow you.
Chef Albert Raurich and his team at Dos Palillos ("Two Chopsticks") creatively demonstrate the close links between Asian and Spanish tapas, and at such a high level of quality and innovation that it earned them their first Michelin star. Sitting down to one of their tasting menus treats you to one surprise after another, and each one better than the one before.
A tiny space with a small kitchen staff produces first-class dishes. A must. Rafa Penya is now an indisputable leader in bistronomics. The dishes are creative, but always tasty and recognisable, such as the octopus with Catalan black sausage, the pigeon with ginger, or the mouth-watering omelette made with herbs and wrapped with a paper-thin slice of Catalan bacon.
The young chef Jordi Esteve’s style is based on quality and creativity, and underpinned with tradition. How about some scallops with truffle and fish foam? And save room for dessert, as Esteve's coconut-infused creations, which he came up with when looking for a dish that 'gives the feeling of sitting near a wood fire to stave off a winter's chill'. In more good news for everyone, there's also a menu for coeliacs.
Jordi Cruz has regained Àbac’s second Michelin star, making his restaurant once again the essential haute cuisine establishment in Barcelona. He reached such heights by creating cuisine filled with expertise and sophistication. Take, for example, the egg with asparagus. Sounds simple enough, but Cruz has done a number on the egg that is something out of an R&D think tank. First the yolk is cooked at 62°C, then cured in salt water to give it just the exact subtle touch of salt. Served with white asparagus, a divinely thin slice of Serrano ham and a spoonful of caviar, it's nothing less than spectacular.
Marc Roca has brought his array of tapas and auteur dishes to the Eixample. If you’ve been to his restaurant in Begur, then you get the idea of the snacks and meals. If not, then try the courgette salad, which is just a morsel, but will make your senses sing. The thin slice of courgette is lightly grilled to bring out its sweet side, creating the perfect contrast to the acidity of the goat's cheese it's wrapped around. Also in the game are hazelnut vinaigrette, soy and a dash of walnut oil, all caramelised and crunchy. The mint freshens it up, and the tomato confit brings it all together.
Put this one on the list of places you simply must try. Just like the tree it's named after, this restaurant has healing properties, albeit pricey ones. In the eatery’s new location at the Ohla Hotel, chef Xavier Franco still offers haute cuisine of the potent variety. Franco's a self-proclaimed "protein man", and has come up with a protein bomb of a dish in his fricassee of fava beans with veal sweetbread.
A lovely space with an imaginative cuisine that stimulates all five senses (hence the name). You’ll be blown away by their range of superb, original dishes, such as their surf ’n’ turf platter with crispy pork cheeks, saffron alioli and grilled squid. Or try chef Jordi Artal's ember-roasted sweet potato. After being roasted for a full hour, it's then stuffed with the foam of its own pulp, herbal bread, and butter and hazelnut cream. In the centre are two quail eggs cooked for exactly 100 seconds. And finally, an injection of oaky smoke.
New haute cuisine with distinct Catalan influences and beautiful desserts, all presented impeccably. How does chef Mey Hofmann's calamari with Catalan blood sausage and praline sauce sound? Hofmann herself calls it "simple and not overthought", with the praline sauce making an unexpected appearance. The squid are stuffed with the sausage, which was previously heated in the microwave in order to soften it up, the not-quite-boiled praline sauce is added, and then it's grilled. The result is fantastically crunchy and quite the combination.
Chef Víctor Quintillà has more than earned his Michelin star, which shines brightly to guide the hungry to this culinary mecca in Santa Coloma. Lluerna offers refined creativity based on good ingredients and tradition, and very good value for money. One of chef Quintillà's creations is a marinated mackerel, a blue fish that just might be one of the most underestimated and forgotten in the world of modern haute cuisine, but he'll likely change all that with this gorgeous dish.
Tickets is the new project set up by Ferran and Albert Adrià to extend the creative concepts behind El Bulli to a wider audience, and they too have opted for the format of offering tapas. This is a real opportunity to taste the creations of two of the world’s most illustrious chefs without having to book a table a year in advance or find your way to Cala Montjoi.