The best meal in Barcelona was at ABaC Restaurant. Join me for lunch as I reminisce through 12 unique molecular gastronomic courses by the genius Chef Jordi Cruz. Yes, I totally had 12 courses for lunch.
I started planning for Europe pretty last minute. The fine details that is. Like where to eat. What to see, etc. I started asking around for restaurant recos for the three places I’d be visiting and three different foodie dietitian friends said I HAD to go to ABaC Restaurant in Barcelona. One friend even went so far to say it was the best meal of her life! How could I pass that up?!
Well if they didn’t have reservations, I suppose. And lo and behold, they were booked BUT they had spots available for lunch! SOLD.
Once we were in Barcelona, I warned my friend Ana that this was a 12 course deal and pretty expensive and that we could back out if she wanted to. She looked at the menu and was a little weirded out by menu items like grilled eel and squid rings. Fair enough. But we saw that ABaC lets you choose between the tasting menu or you can order a la carte items so we decided I could do the tasting menu and she could order a la carte. Or, so we thought…
Mind you at no point before our lunch did anyone from ABaC tell us we should carve out 4 hours out of our day for this meal so we had a reservation to see La Sagrada Familia a few hours after our lunch reservation. #thatdidnthappen
We arrived at ABaC and had to get buzzed in to the very swanky property.
We must have been their first lunch reservation because we were the first couple to arrive. We were seated in a small room with only six tables with beautifully modern and elegant settings.
The waiter explained the menu to us and that it would take 3 hours for the tasting menu and then walked away to let us muse. We knew we had to be back to the Sagrada Familia in a few hours and that we wouldn’t have enough time for the full tasting menu so we awkwardly asked if we could split a tasting. That was a negative #dumbamericangirls. He did say we could opt for a shortened tasting if we’d like which would take about two hours. Perfect. We decided to do that. 4 hours and 12 courses later…ain’t no shortened tasting. But we were both so glad we did the tasting menu. There’s really no other way to do it to get the full experience.
I should tell you that they are more than happy to accommodate dietary restrictions and served a pescetarian tasting menu for us. We started with a bloody mary on the rocks with cockles seasoned with a bloody mary foam. I asked how the bloody mary (in the background there) could be that yellow color and not red. He said they actually let bloody mary sit overnight so it separates and the pulp is filtered out. Neat, eh? And that bloody mary foam was made using a chiffon method with flour, beer, and sparkling water. Once I had this first course, I knew I was in for something really special that afternoon.
Next up were calcots confit (a Catalan spring onion) with Romesco ice cream and smoked coal. The frozen Romesco sauce was unreal. I would eat it by the scoopful if I could.
Then the waiter set up this contraption at our table and I got super excited.
He whisked pisco from Peru and egg whites and added liquid nitrogen to make a pisco sour sorbet right in front of our eyes.
And then topped the pisco sour sorbet on top of ceviche oysters in a beautiful lulo fruit. Lulo is known as “little orange” and has a sweet taste to it but the inside looks more like a green tomato if anything. This fruit is meant to be eaten by scooping out its interior. The colors on this dish were strikingly beautiful.
Next up (this was Ana’a favorite…I don’t know if I could choose a favorite actually) was grilled eel on their Chinese bread with fresh wasabi, and smoked aioli. Go figure the dish she was nervous about turned out to be her favorite 🙂
And when I say fresh wasabi, I ain’t lying. They shaved this wasabi plant from Japan right in front of our eyes. Most of the wasabi you find in sushi and Japanese restaurants is actually made from a powder. This was the best tasting wasabi I’d ever had. It’s very hot for the first second but then quickly subsides in intensity.
We then had squid “ristotto” with crisped rice. They cut the squid into the shape of rice to mimic a risotto type dish.
As you can see, the presentation was phenomenal here. Each dish was presented in a unique way to make it a truly artistic expression of the Chef.
I particularly enjoyed the bowl made out of a coconut.
And inside there was roasted scallops in a thai coconut broth.
Shrimp with squid tartar…and I totally forget what sauces complemented this dish…#somanyflavors
Ana watched me eat one of these first and then decided to leave hers behind after she saw my reaction. These were just prawns in the shell but upon breaking them apart I not only got the shrimp meat but also the lovely grey juices that are inside. #nothanks
The next course (and every one thereafter) made up for it though. Red striped mullet with a foamy saffron hollandaise. They fried the top of the scales only by pouring super hot oil over top. It gave it just enough crispy texture.
Wild catalan mushrooms and broth infused with citronella, truffle, and parmesan bubble.
Last of the main courses was the Lorito fish from the Mediterranean, scales fried with hot oil, served with seaweed and lemongrass aioli.
This dessert was aptly named the “pink panther” – orange rose and strawberry chiffon cake with orange rose strawberry ice cream, white chocolate yogurt ganache and fresh strawberries.
After this, we thought we’re done. Time for a picture!
But then they brought another dessert and we thought okay now we must really be done. This was white chocolate cake with white chocolate truffle ganache with fresh cheese ice cream and honey.
But then they brought out another dessert and we just both shook our heads laughing in disbelief. Are we really still eating right now? Did we just have three desserts at lunch? This was their chocolate earth with parsnip cream, with chocolate, chipotle, toasted hazelnuts, and vanilla. After this, Ana was like we have to be done now, right?
And then the waiter came over and said we were welcome to head out to the garden patio for cookies. Now we realized we were never going to make our reservation at La Sagrada and that we should just take our sweet time.
We sat outside on this beautiful garden patio. Ordered a couple glasses of cava and said life. is. good
Then we tried our lipstick sorbet. #nojoke
And a cookie platter with macaroons, truffles in edible wrappers, and chocolates.
After this GLORIOUS meal, I was so excited when Chef Jordi Cruz came out to greet all of us dining for lunch. He stopped by every table to say hello and see how we liked the meal. First off, how cute is he?!?! I was like how old is this dude (and will he marry me and cook for me every night?)? He looks so young! So I immediately google stalked him to find out he’s 37 years old and at age 24 received his first Michelin star, making him the second youngest chef in the world to receive that distinction. Totally young enough to marry me (jk, Steve!).
12 courses and a garden patio of cookies later…I was so happy I decided to splurge and have this gastronomic culinary experience. At the end of the trip, Ana asked me what my favorite moment in Paris and Spain were. I said my favorite moment in Spain was this lunch!
Stay tuned for my next (and final!) Barcelona post where I talk about my favorite tapas bar!