The first time I visited, I instantly fell in love with Spain. I fell in love with her history, architecture, passion for life, and in particular, with her food. Recently, I made a return visit to experience Barcelona, the city some call the gastronomic capital of Spain. While I was there, I explored the city every day and had the opportunity to dine at a variety of places in this beautiful and inspiring destination. Here are five fantastic restaurants that I highly recommend, and look forward to dining at again soon.
Almost hidden within the ancient and charming alleyways of the Gothic Quarter is Brugarol, a tapas bar that explores traditional tapas but adds a twist of Asian flair. Offering only 21 seats in an intimate and beautiful space, this is farm-to-table cuisine at its finest. Brugarol sources all of their ingredients locally from their Costa Brava farm less than 75 miles away. Even their wines and olive oil are locally sourced and are ecologically sound. I recently asked owner and chef, Angelo Scirocco, what are Brugarol’s most popular dishes?
“Probably the most famous dish is the Laquered Quail with smoked lentil puree, warm beluga lentil and morel mushroom salad. Also, The Brugarol Egg, a savory white truffle flan, which is cooked in its egg shell as well. It’s to honor our eggs from our own farm. We produce a new Japo- Tapas cuisine that feels more traditional than new.”
Because there are so many fantastic dishes to try, I highly recommend their 7 tapas tasting menu. Surrender to the chef’s choices and enjoy. On an a la carte basis, I recommend the Iberian Pork Cheek & Cauliflower, sous vide pork cheek in bay leaf with cauliflower puree, brown sage butter & Iberian pork lardo. This dish is so gorgeous to look at you’ll hesitate to dig in, but don’t. The sous vide technique which, vacuum packs a marinade with herbs and spices, instantly renders the pork buttery smooth and flavorful. It will melt in your mouth.
You’ll also love their Corvina sashimi, thinly sliced raw corvina with cucumber, red onion, ginger, daikon radish, seaweed emulsion and nam pla dressing. This is impeccable cooking that marries Catalan cuisine with Japanese esthetic. Brugarol’s ambience is worth mentioning too. It’s Zen, minimalistic, and sexy. Great care was taken when decisions were made regarding décor and its relationship to the food Chef Scirocco creates. Carrer Salomó Ben Adret, 10. Tel: +34-933-158- 995. www.brugarolbarcelona.com
A few steps from the beautiful Placa Reial is Viana. Opened in 2015 by brothers Rubén y Miguel Bermúdez along with Carlos García and Chef Solomon Tabisaura, this intimate establishment offers some of the most exciting and delicious culinary creations in Barcelona. Viana may be small in size but it’s gigantic in flavor, and it is inexpensive for the food they offer.
Maybe start off with one of their classic and delicious sangrias? Or possibly indulge in one of their signature cocktails like the Blackberry Mojito: blackberry vodka, lime and mint with soda. So refreshing!
Whether on a date night, or dining solo, you’ll discover the staff are very friendly, no attitude or pretension. You might want to try their small plate of gorgeous burrata cheese with Sorrento tomatoes, guacamole, and nuts with a dried fruit vinaigrette. But save room for the prawns and veggies roll with sweet chili sauce, which I’m warning you, are addictive.
More exceptional main dishes are the slow cooked beef cheeks with sweet potato and cinnamon purée. The cheeks are luscious. And make sure you try their Iberian pork carpaccio with provolone shavings. A work of art on your plate, but yes, you can eat it.
The ham and pork products served here are of Spanish origin and produced exclusively from rare Iberian pigs, which are descendants of the wild boar. They are the last European free-range pig breed and they are allowed to eat chestnuts and graze on open pastures. Hence, the result is an amazing sweet but earthy taste due to the chestnuts. That’s what makes this ham so special and unique to Spain.
Because of its cozy size and popularity, I highly recommend that you make reservations for dining at Viana. Carrer del Vidre, 7. Tel: 93-463-8295. www.vianabcn.com