The gourmet's guide to Barcelona

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Albert Adrià

Enigma et al.

This month the inaugural Superyacht Show, created by LYBRA, comes to OneOcean Port Vell in Barcelona. Chris Madigan asks four of the city’s top chefs how to savour its culinary delights while you’re in town...

At 15, Albert Adrià left school to join his brother Ferran in the kitchen at elBulli. He became pastry chef in 1987, before the two drove a revolution in Catalan, Spanish and world cuisine. Since shuttering the restaurant in 2011, the Adriàs have launched a group of restaurants in Barcelona – including the Michelin- starred Tickets and Enigma, which opened in 2017 – with Albert at the helm.

Enigma variations: Even when I was at elBulli, I planned one day to have a restaurant called Enigma. It took a lot longer than planned but RCR Architects created exactly the environment I had in my mind for enjoying gastronomy. Diners move through the different spaces we use to express particular cooking styles (la Cava, la Barra, la Plancha, el Dinner) and a revival of my old 41° cocktail bar.

In my neighbourhood: Our elBarri group of restaurants – Enigma; Tickets tapas bar; Pakta, our Nikkei (Japanese Peruvian) place; Hoja Santa (Michelin-starred Mexican with Paco Méndez); Niño Viejo (Mexican street food); and our bar, Bodega 1900 – are all located in the Parallel Poble Sec area. Many independent and interesting shops, restaurants and bars have opened in recent years.

Mountains of food: I love traditional Catalan food, especially mountain dishes such as trinxat (potatoes, cabbage and pork); escudella i carn d’olla (broth with pasta, vegetables and meat); and cargols a la llauna (baked snails).

El Bulli boys: There are several former elBulli chefs doing well now, particularly the team behind the Michelin- starred Disfrutar in the city, and Compartir, up the coast in Cadaqués. Toni Romero, who was a stagière (intern) with us, is now a rising star, with his restaurant Suculent, part of the group run by Carles Abellan (who worked with us for15 years). Another elBulli graduate, Rafa Zafra, has a great family seafood restaurant close to Port Vell: Estimar.

Vell's kitchens: Barceloneta, by Port Vell, is another culinary destination, especially for tapas. Go to La Cova Fumada for bombas (meat-stuffed potato croquettes), which they claim to have invented, El Vaso de Oro for chorizitos and spicy tuna, with beer, and to La Barra, another Carles Abellan restaurants, which has creative seafood tapas.

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Paco Pérez

Enoteca at Hotel Arts

Having trained with the founders of two food movements, Michel Guérard (nouvelle cuisine) and Ferran Adrià (deconstructivist cuisine), Pérez returned to his home town of Llançà to run his wife’s grandparents’ restaurant, Miramar – which has two Michelin stars. Enoteca, his restaurant at the Hotel Arts Barcelona, now matches that, while he has a fifth star from Cinco in Berlin. He also has La Royale, for burgers, and the self-explanatory L’Eggs, both in Barcelona.

Catalan surf ’n’ turf: Catalonia’s rich gastronomic heritage comes from its sophisticated cultural history and the territorial wealth (sea, farms, mountains). It is the combinations of ingredients from these three sources – sea urchins, lobster and red shrimp, with olive oil and peas from local farms and squab and black truffles from the mountains – which makes Catalan food so special.

Tradition & imagination: It is important to respect Catalan flavours but play with the imagination. One chef I believe interprets Catalan food most faithfully is Nandu Jubany at Can Jubany, about an hour north of Barcelona.

International flavour: Barcelona is a world city, so global influences mix with our local traditions. Hoja Santa and its tapas bar Niño Viejo are a collaboration between Albert Adrià and Mexican chef Paco Méndez and you find surprising ingredients such as huitlacoche (corn fungus). At Koy Shunka, Hideki Matsuhisa manages to create incredible sushi and other Japanese dishes but with fresh Mediterranean ingredients.

Vine dining: Our cellar at Enoteca contains more than 700 wines. The region is known for its cava and I particularly like the way they do things at Codorníu, Perelada and Jaume Serra. It’s worth visiting Vila Viniteca, on Carrer dels Agullers, for a wine tasting to discover more about Catalan wine.

Drink and be merry: For vermouth, I go to Quimet i Quimet in El Poble Sec, which is also one of the city’s best tapas bars serving montaditos (open sandwiches). If you are looking for a more contemporary environment and inventive cocktails, come to P41 Bar & Coctelarium at the Hotel Arts.

Along the coast: If you are leaving Barcelona to cruise north, anchor in a cove off the beautiful Cap de Creus for a picnic. For dinner, I have to recommend my own restaurant near there, Miramar. My head chef, Luís Alonso, is a rising star, and the views are wonderful.

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Javier and Sergio Torres

Dos Cielos

Born in Barcelona in 1970, the Torres twins trained at the Arnadi Cookery School in the city before going their separate ways and working in top restaurants in Spain, France and Switzerland. In 2006, they reunited to open the Eñe restaurant in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Two years later, they opened Dos Cielos in Barcelona. In 2017, it gained its second Michelin star and established a twin in Madrid.

Bringing it all back home: At Dos Cielos, we are on the 24th floor of the Meliá Barcelona Sky hotel and have incredible views of the mountains and the sea – two sources of high-quality local ingredients (we also have a herb garden up here). Our most typical dishes are somehow simple and sophisticated at the same time, for example pa amb tomàquet (bread rubbed with garlic and tomato, with olive oil and salt). We also love trinxat, a mountain dish of cabbage and potato, served with pork or bacon.

Picnic in the park: Any food lover should go to the Boqueria, the Mercat de St Josep in the Ciutat Vella (old city), then take your treats to Park Güell, designed by the genius architect Antoni Gaudí. It offers beautiful views over the city.

Out of the city: One of our favourite restaurants is Els Tinars, north-west of Barcelona, near Girona (you can find a berth at the harbour of Sant Feliu de Guíxols). Marc Gascons and his team are focused on traditional Catalan ingredients but apply modern techniques to get the most out of them.

Vermouth will out: If we have a day off, we enjoy the Catalan version of the aperitivo hour, fer un vermut. La Mundana, on Calle Vallespir, has a good selection of Catalan and other vermouths, as well as cava and wine, and interesting Asian and Spanish tapas.

Cocktail hour: If you like gin in your vermouth, go to Dry Martini. When it first opened over 30 years ago, it only served dry martinis. Under Javier de las Muelas, the menu has expanded with other classic cocktails and his own innovations, but it has maintained its old-fashioned style, with leather, wood and brass fittings. A more contemporary bar is the El Paradiso speakeasy, hidden behind a fridge door at Pastrami Bar, a sandwich shop run by British street food chef Buster Turner.

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Eduard Xatruch

Compartir

In 1999, Eduard Xatruch met Oriol Castro and Mateu Casañas at elBulli, where they went on to be joint head chefs. When Ferran Adrià closed the restaurant, the three kept the band together and opened Compartir (“to share”) in nearby Cadaqués in 2012. In late 2014, they followed it up with the opening of Disfrutar in Barcelona, gaining a Michelin star in their first year.

Different toques: We are used to working as a team. We work as one but with three brains, six eyes and three palates. Compartir focuses on small dishes for the whole table to pass around. It’s relaxed and not high-priced, but the flavours are very important to us. We don’t want you to say “wow!” when you walk in the restaurant; we want you to be impressed when the food arrives and by the service.

Local & world: Catalan food is part of all our cultural histories – for example, our first thought would be to cook with olive oil, not butter. Our regional seasons are very important: you can eat pine nuts all year round, but in late spring they are something magical – they are tender, like caviar. But we take influences and ingredients from around the world – Japan, Peru and Great Britain.

Stellar line-up: We are lucky to have so many good Michelin-starred restaurants in Barcelona. I like Alkimia, it has a clean cuisine to match the interior, but Jordi Vilà cooks with real authenticity of flavour. Martín Berasategui’s three-star restaurant in Lasarte is perfection in the kitchen and it’s a beautiful dining room. Our old bosses the Adrià brothers’ Tickets is a great place for a fun evening. Dos Palillos is another less formal place – Albert Raurich produces wonderful Asian tapas dishes.

Chef's day off: If I have time, I like to go to the local markets. For me, the best is Mercat del Ninot, right next to Disfrutar in Eixample, but Mercat Santa Caterina is good too. Alternatively, I go for breakfast that turns into a long lunch at Granja Elena, a neighbourhood deli-restaurant in Zona Franca.

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