The Girona region currently leads the global avant-garde gastronomic sector. And among the wide range of quality restaurants, there are a few that really stand out: those that have been awarded at least one more Michelin star. If your budget allows and you feel like treating to yourself to a memorable dining experience, here's a list of the province's 'star' restaurants. Enjoy your meal!
The reinvention of Montseny cuisine has a name, and that name is Les Magnòlies. This restaurant is located in Arbúcies, in a house from 1871, and owners Roser and Isidre, together with their team, put the town on the map some 20 years ago with a local style of cooking that won Les Magnòlies a Michelin start in 2012. They're inspired by Catalan cuisine, to which they add their own personal touches. Among the star ingredients are local wild mushrooms ('bolets') along with other products that originate in the mountainous surrounds. On the menu you'll find venison loin with caramelised salsify, and 'empedrat' (a salda made with cod, tuna, beans, tomato, pepper, spring onions and olives) featuring white beans from Arbúcies. But the county in which Arbúcies lies is also by the sea and that's clearly reflected in the menu, which features fish brought directly from the fish market in Blanes, some 50km away.
Sample the creative cuisine at Bo.TiC and you'll discover evocative Empordà dishes such as stews and other traditional recipes. That's the very spirit of this restaurant, which has one Michelin star and is located close to the capital of the Baix Empordà, La Bisbal. At Bo.TiC they make their own signature versions of the most typical plates from the area. Such local ingredients as cod, duck, rice and chicken take on original forms that are surprising to the palate - these include the confit of cod, potato, truffle essence and San Simón cheese, the duck magret with pears in wine, and the risotto of roast duck, pumpkin and truffle. They have various menus that range from the most traditional to the most creative and playful dishes, and a long wine list that contains more than 400 options.
An idea, a dish. That's how the creative cooking at Massana comes into being, as well as making use of the highest quality seasonal ingredients – it doesn't matter where they're from, what counts is that they can express the concept that chef Pere Massana wants to convey. His philosophy and approach have merited a Michelin star since 2007. On the menu, the ingredients are clearly the focus, and baking styles dominate, while nods to Japanese and Asian cuisine also appear. Examples include semi-cured salmon smoked to order with 'ponzu' sauce, quail in cabbage gyoza, and lacquered eel with pork neck and salad of pickles; on the dessert menu, seek out the textures of 'yuzu' and cucumber with aromas of fresh mint. Let yourself be seduced by the ideas of Massana.
At Fonda Xesc they work with seasonal ingredients to create Catalan dishes. The chef, Francesc, started learning his trade with his mother there at the 'fonda' (a traditional Catalan inn and restaurant). Some of the dishes they cooked together back then are still on the menu, 25 years later, such as the delicious rabbit with langoustines. 'Mar i muntanya' (surf and turf) creations such as that one are actually a house speciality - they also make pig's trotters with 'sobrassada' (spicy spreading sausage from Mallorca) and sea cucumbers, and peas and wild asparagus with fish of the day and the juices of roasted meat. When it comes to cooking, they have three basic tenets: short cooking, made to order, and simplicity. It's a formula that has been deserving of a Michelin star since 2009 and that is also applied to creations such as rice with spinach and truffle, artichokes with bacon, coriander and garlic, and, for dessert, dark chocolate with liquorice and eucalyptus (typical in the area).
The 'tramuntana' wind, the sea, the beach, the fishermen, the abrupt coastal landscape... at Miramara, they say that all these elements have an important influence on their avant-garde gastronomic creations, which have won them two Michelin stars. The restaurant is the work of Paco Pérez and the family of his wife, Montse Serra, which has headed up the restaurant since 1939. Its cuisine is based on local tradition and on the utmost respect for regional ingredients, which feature in every dish. There's a set menu full of surprises where the primary material is the key, whether it comes from the sea or the land. On the à la carte menu you'll encounter classics such as scallops, Parmentier of Iberian ham and Pedro Ximénez sherry, clams, and tartare of oysters and caviar with apple air.
Four generations have passed through the kitchen of Ca l'Enric since 1882. After 120 years, in 2002, the prestigious Michelin Guide recognised the work done by this restaurant in updating their style of cooking. The people responsible for this change are the young Juncà siblings: the three practise what's known as 'ingredient cuisine' ('cuina de producte'). They focus on the local lands and surroundings of the restaurant, which is located in the heart of the Garrotxa region of Catalonia, although they say their cooking is inspired more by forests than by the extinct volcanoes that populate the area. One of their set menus, entitled Discover the Valley, works with just such local ingredients: wild mushrooms, truffle, game, eel, river trout, etc. You should try the 'sotabosc', which brings together ingredients grown around the restaurant (veal, wild mushrooms, aromatic herbs, flowers, leaves, etc). Another of their unique set menus is the woodcock one, including soup, a rice dish, and woodcock that's been stewed and cooked on the grill with 'salmís' a sauce made with the bird's innards, foie and cognac.
In a 'masia' (Catalan country house) situated at the foot of the Les Gavarres massif, the Gascons siblings are facing the challenge of bringing Catalan cuisine into the modern age, with the use of local, seasonal products. Try the 'llobregant blau' (a variety of lobster), which is cooked with tomato, advocado and fenell, together with citrics and a coral mayonnaise. With such efforts, it's safe to say that the challenge has been met! And then some, with a Michelin star awarded in 2008. But if you're still not quite convinced, check out the combination of black truffle and butter sauce with tender potato gnocchi. When it comes to the meats, you're bound to enjoy their take on the typical entrecote, which seems them cook Galician ox over a coal grill and serve it with polenta, artichokes and onions.
Following the closure of El Bulli in Cala Montjoi, Els Brancs is the only restaurant in Roses with a Michelin star. The restaurant experienced a turning-point in 2012, when, to the surprise and excitement of both directors and staff, it was given the star, its first big culinary award. In charge of the kitchen is Granada chef Javier Cabrera, who trained with both Ferran Adrià and Joan Roca, as well as at the restaurant of Arzumendi. His speciality is signature, creative Catalan cuisine. He uses products from the area and sometimes transforms famous regional dishes – he pays careful attention to ensuring that every last detail on the plate is excellent through the use of the latest techniques. You can choose between the full Experiènces menu and a cheaper tasting menu that changes constantly. Dishes such as the succulent rice with Roses prawns, confit of suckling pig, basil and vegetable raviolis, and lobster 'botifarra' (sausage) with white beans, will excite the most demanding palates. If the weather allows, you should definitely try to get a table on the terrace. The restaurant takes its name ('The Branches') from the small islands located just in front of it, below a small cliff that finishes on the beach of Bonifaci – it's an idyllic setting in the Bay of Roses.
Natural cooking is what Xavier and Josep Maria have always done in the home of their fishing grandparents, located in the Cala Codolar in Tossa and today converted into a restaurant. They say it's the same cooking as always but brought up to date, with nothing elaborate but always attractive. For instance, 'el cim i tomba', a stew that fishermen in Tossa used to make on their boats using the fish they'd caught - at Can Simón, it's made without bones and slow cooked. This dish is the king of the menu: it includes boiled potato, garlic mayonnaise and skate, as well as a kind of chopsticks that you use to eat it, Japanese style. It's served with just a bit of sauce on crinkle cut potatoes. The small octopus from Blanes are filled with potato and onion, and the cockles are prepared with artichokes and 'jamón bellota'. This reinvention of typical plates from the area has merited a Michelin star, which they've had since 2001.
The fact that this hotel-restaurant in Castelló d'Empúries, which opened in 1965, has been able to modernise the cooking of the Empordà was something that the Michelin Guide took into account when it awarded the place its first star in 2015. Even though it has many years of experience behind it, the origins of the current Empòrium come from the fourth generation of the Jodrà-Giró family, brothers Joan and Màrius, who told their father in 2008 that they would take over the family business providing that they could focus on the Empordà spirit as much as its common sense. Without any formal training in haute cuisine, the two siblings have managed to inspire customers with dishes that mainly use organic Empordà ingredients. They have worked out how to perfectly combine traditional basics with current techniques - an achievement that few can boast, and which makes dining there a particular pleasure. Through their three set menus, which you can choose according to your budget, you can try different dishes that have been thought up and prepared with much care, and where 'mar i muntanya' (Catalan surf and turf), and new interpretations of traditional dishes dominate. Typical Catalan cannelloni ('canelons') with roasted meat at Empòrium are made with poularde and creamed truffles and wild mushrooms, and from a veal with salsify comes a terrine with ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and lentils. And one of the most innovative dishes is mackerel marinated in a grape juice and vegetable