Rating: ❤❤❤❤ (4/5)
So the main reason for our trip to Europe this time was to eat at El Celler de Can Roca - a reservation that I made 11 months ago! Making the reservation online wasn’t that hard but committing to something almost a year earlier was probably the harder part. With 3 Michelin Stars and twice named World's Best Restaurant, the restaurant is run by the three Roca brothers who are each leaders in their respective fields – Joan as a chef, Josep as a sommelier and Jordi as a pâtissier. I’ve been wanting to visit this restaurant for a long time and after a train ride from Barcelona, I was finally here for lunch. Two menus are available for choosing - a shorter Classics Menu for €180 and a longer Feast Menu for €215 - and we chose the latter in order to taste the latest creations.
Our meal started with a tour in the kitchen so we got to see the different areas of preparation and where the magic happens.
We were then led to the bright and spacious main dining room to start our meal. The decor was minimalistic with wooden furnish and glass panels surrounding all sides; the center of the room was also planted with a few trees which made us feel at one with nature.
We started the meal with series of amuse bouche presented in the most grandeur way.
The World arrived in a globe with small bites from 5 different countries:
-Thailand: thai, chicken, coriander, coconut, curry and lime
-Japan: miso cream and nyinyonyaki
-Turkey: lamb, yogurt, cucumber and onions with mint
-Peru: “Causa Limena”
-Korea: panco fried bread, bacon with soy sauce, kimchi and sesame oil
We were told that one of the arms holding a snack was out of place and when we swung it back in place, there was another amuse bouche waiting for us.
The Memories of a Bar in the Suburbs of Girona was accompanied by a paper cutout of the three Roca brothers hanging out in a bar. The snacks presented were traditional tapas including squids, kidneys with Sherry, gentian bonbon, Montse's meat cannelloni, and Cod brandade. Unfortunately one of the snacks turned out to be the worse thing we'd taste on this trip and it was the kidneys which, in J's words, tasted like "the stench of someone peeing in an underground subway station and no one has cleaned it for days." And I agree.
The rest of the snacks continue to arrive in impressive fashion but the flavors were not as memorable.
King Crab with its Coral, Pesto Razor Clam
Green Olive's Ice cream, Black Olive Tempura
Saint George Mushroom's Brioche
After a rather uneven start, the meal fortunately took a better turn once we began the main dishes. All of the dishes turned out to be pretty solid with a few stand-outs.
Charcoal-grilled Green Peas with green peas pesto, tofu and pod jelly
Stem Lettuce with pistachio, garlic flower and wild mustard
White Asparagus with "garum" of charcoal-grilled asparagus and pickled asparagus
Freeze-dried Oyster Shell with oyster tartar, frigate tuna, walnut, green apple, Earl Grey mayonnaise and bergamot dust
Charcoal-grilled Langoustine with "ajoblanco" sauce and parsley
The Amontillado-steamed Mackerel with figs, mullet roe and pine nut sprouts represented a dish that involved all three brothers - the mackerel sashimi was steamed by a sherry chosen by Josep, mackerel broth by Joan and texture of sweet amontillado by Jordi. It was a nice idea that didn't really translate into taste though. The mackerel wasn't steamed long enough by the the wine so it was just like eating raw mackerel (which is fine but the mackerel was just average compared what you can get in Japan).
The Prawn marinated with rice vinegar, head juice, crispy prawn legs and seaweed veloute was probably the best dish of the meal. I've always found the prawns in Spain to be amazingly delicious and this was no exception. It's also no wonder that this was also offered on the Classics Menu.
Sole Skin Ravioli with Jerusalem artichoke and salsify a la muniere
Iberian Suckling Pig Blanquette with fermented cabbage and spiced meatball "pilota"
Smoked Duck Magret with Orange
Lamb with Eggplant and Chickpea Puree, lamb's trotters and spicy tomato, charcoal-grilled lamb consomme
Squab Civet and its parfait
Green Colourology 2018 with liquefied cucumber, cardamon cream, melon granite, apple, redcurrant, fennel, eucalyptus and Chartreuse
So if you’ve watched the latest season of Chef's Table, you will recognize this intricate and gorgeous creation by Jordi - Girona Flower Time with blueberry sorbet, sour almond, vanilla and flowers! And yes that’s a sugar cutout of the city skyline. This is a tribute to the flower festival that happens every year in May where whole streets become art installations with thousands of flowers. Too bad we missed it by a couple of days.
From Cocoa to Chocolate: pantone gradient of cocoa pulp, lychee, vinegar and camomile, almond milk raisin, PX and chocolate. Brownie, chocolate sorbet, crispy chocolate made in our bakery workroom and cocoa nib
The petit fours arrived on a cart and we were presented with a selection of it to try.
So is El Celler de Can Roca the best restaurant in the world? Well the label "best" is hard to define. From our experience we can tell that the level of execution was high but while the food was good for the most part, it was not our favorite or best dining experience. Given the chance would I go back? Yes. But was it worth making the reservation 11 months in advance? I'm not so sure.
El Celler de Can Roca
Carrer de Can Sunyer, 48, 17007 Girona, Spain
Tel: +34 972 22 21 57
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