Marques de Gelida Gran Reserva Cava
Crayfish Toast, Sea Anemone Beignet, Beetroot Crisp with Caviar, Soy Toast with Anchovy
Mille Feuille Foie Gras, Smoked Eel, Green Apple
Olive Baguette, Iberico Brioche, 5-Grain, White, Olive Oil Focaccia, Olive Oil, Plain/Mushroom/Spinach/Tomato/Beet Butter
Cucumber mayonnaise, licorice sorbet, green pepper and razor clam tartare
Slightly marinated warm oyster with iced watercress slush, parsnip and sea mist
Liquid burrata and tomato ravioli, scarlet shrimp, avocado, celery and apple
Vegetable leaves and petals salad, herbs, sprouts with lettuce cream and lobster
“La Trufa” with fermented mushrooms and collard greens with an extra virgin olive oil touch
Wagyu carpaccio with extract of tarragon, smoked mullet and frozen cheese powder
Squid Tartare with liquid egg yolk, onion and kaffir consommé
Red prawn on a seabed, fennel and coral emulsion
Virrey fish with iodized sauce, king crab, raw tomatoes and saffron
Charcoal grilled pigeon with citrus, capers, black olive and smoked sauce with galangal
Shiso and mint leaves sorbet, acid touches and milk crisp
Almond and salt praline, apricot and rum ice cream
Double espresso shaken with ice
A controversial 2017 Michelin 3* recipient by many accounts, Chef Martin Berasategui of the eponymous 3* restaurant in San Sebastian originally opening Lasarte in 2006 and holding two stars since 2009, it was for lunch on Thursday that a seat was taken in the space located on the ground floor of the Monument Hotel in Barcelona, the experience to follow every bit as refined as that at the flagship though the food itself was not quite its equal.
Currently toqued by longtime Berasategui protégé Paolo Casagrande, a team of more than twenty in the kitchen serving a similar number of diners both Lunch and Dinner throughout the week from menus including two tastings and several a la carte selections, it was just as the clock struck 13h30 that guests were invited into the subdued space with textured wooden walls, thick linens and strings of lights poking through the ceiling.
All hushed tones, “Yes sirs” and refinement, a very formal turn compared to the personality shown at Quique Dacosta or the whimsy of El Celler de Can Roca, it was shortly after settling into a soft leather banquet that the first of several staff members stopped by to discuss food and beverage choices as well as allergies and intolerances, a brisk glass of Marques de Gelida Gran Reserva Cava for €18 easily the best Sparkling tasted in Spain and a great pairing to four opening nibbles including the briny flavors of a Sea Anemone Beignet, Crayfish Toast, Soy Toast with Anchovy and a Beetroot Crisp with Caviar.
Located in one of Barcelona’s most expensive shopping areas, men and women on the streets outside all well dressed and carrying bags from the likes of Prada or Chanel, it was with mostly suited patrons that the restaurant began to fill just past 14h00, Berasategui’s classic Mille-Feuille of Foie Gras with Smoked Eel and Green Apple next to arrive in two bites that were balanced and delicious while the day’s amuse of Cucumber Mayonnaise and Licorice Sorbet with Green Pepper and Razor Clam Tartare was spicy and bold yet surprisingly good, as were the housemade Breads served with Olive Oil and five types of Butter.
Considered by many to be a fairly distinctive Chef, Berasategui’s focus on salinity and flavors of the Sea equally well suited to Barcelona as it is to San Sebastian, it was with the linger of lingering sweetness of Razor Clams still on the palate that the Menu officially kicked off with a lightly heated Oyster served alongside Watercress Ice and “Sea Mist” Foam, the juxtaposition of texture and temperature pleasant and a nice lead in to what would turn out to be the afternoon’s best dish, Housemade Burrata served in three melting dollops alongside Tomato Ravioli filled with Shrimp plus the flavors of Celery and Apple.
Following up with a Berasategui staple, the tribute to Bras’ La Gargouillou falling a bit flat in terms of its Vegetables though the Lobster and herbal Cream were quite nice, it was after a substantial delay that a dish entitled “La Trufa” was presented, the description including Pigeon, Foie Gras and fermented Mushrooms creating an expectation of something rich unctuous while the flavor was actually fairly restrained, the bitterness of Collard Greens unfortunately the most prominent on the plate.
At this point taking an odd turn, three thin slices of nicely marbled Beef presented with smoked Fish and a Granite not dissimilar to the flavor of Cheez-It Crackers, it was in follow-up that Chef Casagrande sent forth a lovely Tartare of Squid topped with a raw Egg Yolk, pickled Mustard Seeds and Citrus, the flavors all bold but blending well and leading nicely into an “Eat the Tail, Suck the Head” dish of Red Prawn served with flavors of the Ocean lightly perfumed in Licorice.
Presenting the menu’s penultimate savory as a thin filet of Sea Bream with tiny sections of King Crab, Tomatoes and Saffron, all of it fine but none of it particularly memorable, it was on the backdrop of another saline palate that the kitchen sent forth two slices of ruby-red Pigeon, the intensity of Capers and Olives thankfully reined in by the both smoke and Citrus though the later threatened to overwhelm at times, just as it did in a palate cleanser focusing on the refreshing combination of Shiso and Mint.
Specifically requesting Coffee be served with Dessert rather than after, the server doing his best but unable to complete the tableside task before the kitchen sent forth the meal’s final course, it was in another deconstructed dish centered on Ice Cream that several textures of Almond were plated along with the intense flavor of Apricot, all of it quite enjoyable including the smooth and boozy finish.