Thursday 23 April 2020

Enigma (Barcelona)

The height of experimental cuisine 

Roasted lobster in aged beef fat

Enigma is part of a mini restaurant empire by Albert Adrià. One of the key players behind the legendary El Bulli. After the closing of El Bulli, Albert has created a number of restaurants which instantly became a hit. The most famous one has to be Tickets. However, Enigma is slowly gathering a reputation. It was launched in 2017, and the concept was highly ambitious. It serves only a blind tasting menu with more than 30 courses. The restaurant is spread into 6 sessions where guests would enjoy a few dishes per station before moving onto the next one. You would kick off the journey from the reception area, followed by a mini-bar station to enjoy some canapes, before moving onto a raw bar, a grill bar then to the main dining room and dessert bar.

Cocina Hermanos Torres (Barcelona)

Iconic restaurant in the making

Suckling pig from Extremadura

Barcelona is one of the top gastronomy destinations in Europe, flooded with so many top restaurants, ranging from classy tapas bars to state of the art fine dinings. Picking a place to visit is not an easy task. I picked Cocina Hermanos Torres based on 1 reason, the double Michelin starred venue has 3 island kitchens taking the central stage inside the main dining area. All the tables are built around the kitchens so, in theory, every single table is a chef table, having the chance to witness chefs in action. The restaurant is also located within a former warehouse but with a contemporary makeover to make it extremely edgy. Like many modern fine dining restaurants in Barcelona, Cocina Hermanos Torres serves a tasting menu with a very limited alc option.

Angle (Barcelona)

Jordi Cruz's rising star

Red prawns on salted rock stone

Angle is located in the heart of Barcelona. Part of the luxury hospitality group Abac, it is the newest Michelin two-starred restaurant in the city, having got promoted in the 2020 guide. The chef behind Angle is a Spanish culinary heavyweight, Jordi Cruz. The talented chef is one of the youngest ever chefs to reach 3 Michelin star status in the world, his flagship restaurant Abac, which is not far away from Angle, is one of the only two 3 starred restaurants in Barcelona. Jordi is renowned for his cutting edge, creative approach in fine dining, taking inspirations from around the world. At Angle, he only offers two tasting menu, just like at Abac.

Mantúa (Jerez)

Jerez's answer to fine dining

Hake poached in cow fat, cavier

When I was traveling across Andalusia in Spain, checking out Jerez was on top of my list. Jerez is famous for its sherry production, and the small city is home to many famous sherry houses. To round off my day trip to Jerez, a top restaurant for lunch was on my agenda and I picked Mantua. It is one of the only two Michelin starred restaurants, run by a local chef Israel Ramos who gathered experience working at other starred restaurants in the Andalusia region. Mantua has only 6 tables in a clean, spacious modern dining room with a high ratio of staff vs dinners. Like many Spanish fine dining restaurants, al la carte is not on the menu with only muti courses tasting menu is on offer.

Monday 13 April 2020

Abantal (Seville)

The peak of fine dining in Seville

Steamed large red prawn, sauté rice and tomato

There are not great numbers of fine dining restaurants in Seville, I would suspect that is largely down to the fact there are so many high-quality values for money tapas bar and restaurants around the city already, so is there much point of fine dining? Abantal is the only Michelin starred restaurant in the city, located not too far from the city center. Chef-owner Julio Fernández Quintero's cooking style is based on modern Spanish cuisine with a touch of Middle Eastern inspiration, as Seville, along with the whole of Southern Spain, has been occupied by the Arabs in the past which had a big influence to the local cuisine development. The restaurant itself is small, with around 10 tables across the contemporary dining room, and two tasting menus (a standard one or a longer one) to pick from.

Sunday 12 April 2020

Cañabota (Seville)

Seafood temple

Shrimp tartar, red prawn, langoustine and razor clam

While Seville is flooded with top-notch tapas bars, I was sure there are many great modern, innovative restaurants that are just as good. Canabota is a modern seafood restaurant bar in the old town of the city. It is known for its fresh seafood counter where diners can check out what is available on the day before deciding what to order. White prawns, red shrimps, lobsters, red mullets, etc, the selection is big and I was spoiled with choices. Canabota is a popular restaurant and I had to book weeks in advance, with only 30 covers with a team of 6 chefs, the ratio of chefs vs dinners is high.

El Rinconcillo (Seville)

The house of old school tapas

White prawns from Huelva

El Rinconcillo is perhaps the most iconic tapas bar in Seville. Open since 1670, it is the oldest tapas bar in the city. It does traditional regional tapas but it also has a sit-down restaurant space that serves bigger plates with a bigger menu. It is one of the most popular dining spots and was recommended in the Michelin guide. The menu covers mostly the typical tapas dishes you will see elsewhere, along with a daily blackboard that offers seasonal dishes, based on if El Rinconcillo managed to source any special fresh ingredients on the day.

Bodeguita Romero (Seville)

Montaditos legend

Tuna belly salad

Casual tapas bars are everywhere in Seville, to be stand out, apart from great quality cooking, having a signature dish also help. Casa Morales has the octopus, and at Bodeguita Romero, it is all about the montaditos, a Spanish style sandwich that Bodeguita Romero is famous for and has gained cult status. The classic version contained Iberico pork, black pudding and dressed up with either whisky sauce or mojo picon. Besides the infamous montaditos, the restaurant also has a range of classic tapas offerings, such as grilled meat, cold cuts, and fried items.

Casa Morales (Seville)

Classic tapas 

Octopus and paprika

When you visit Seville, a trip to a traditional tapas bar is a must. There is so many tapas bars around the city so it is not easy to find the right one for sure. Casa Morales appeared on so many websites so it seems like it was no brainer for me to give a try. It is a traditional tapas bar located near the stunning Seville cathedral so it was a great spot for me when I was doing my sightseeing around the city. The menu is big, with a large selection of cold cuts, egg-based dishes to canned food and hot tapas. The cool thing is that you can order most dishes in tapas, standard or main course size, so you can end up trying many dishes if you keep going for the tapas.