We’ve had three consecutive weekends of friends visiting. After 7 months in Barcelona, we know where to take visitors. Still, Easter weekend proved a challenge, the city was practically boiling over with visitors and yet many places were closed. Including the crown jewels in the Albert Adria crown (Tickets, Pakta, 41º Experience & Bodega 1900). Which left the places without the pictures on the Bcn 5.0 website – the ones missing personalised social media buttons; Rias de Galicias (fish restaurant), Espai Kru (modern fish with emphasis on raw fish & seafood), Casa de Tapes. Long winded introduction – true – but I am fascinated by the marketing. (Why do the latter 3 fall in a different category with less promotion than the former?)
On my last visit to Pakta, the waitress had enthusiastically recommended Espai Kru to me: a la carte instead of Prix Fix, laid back with delicious food. Espai Kru it was, a table for two, for lunch on Saturday. And then we got there. We climbed the stairs up to the first floor where we were confronted with a big, glossy poster advertising a Range Rover. Martini branding in Bodega 1900 – it works – but Range Rover? And then there was the music. 3 songs in we started wondering if the staff had left their own music playing by accident? I asked our waitress, Anna (the best waitress I’ve had in 10 years) if what we were listening to was the restaurant playlist (tunes like Bonny M’s Sunny, September from Earth Wind and Fire, Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody) – perplexed she answered yes.
After a glass of the fantastic Blue Fin Mestres Cava it all started to make sense, the poster, the music, the friendly waitress. What is often missing in these big name restaurants is silliness, humor, getting some things wrong – like having a big Range Rover poster to greet guests.
We had some incredible dishes – a wonderfully presented ceviche of red mullet, presented whole with its body sliced into slivers and marinated in vivid lime and cilantro. When Anna saw us hesitate, trying to do the math while ordering she helpfully arranged (with no judgment – something I have noticed many a time in Barcelona) for us to have say 1/2 a dish. So normally the tuna belly with miso and radish would cost €18.00 but we had half a portion so it worked out at €9.00. Similarly, she insisted we try the marinated pineapple but we were thinking “Yeah? Really? How is that going to be worth €8.00?” so she gave us 0.33% of a portion which worked out at €2.64 (I’m happy Anna insisted).
As with most of Albert Adria’s places, the desserts are out of this world. We ordered (again directed by Anna) Torrija with turrón ice cream. Torrija is French Toast. We weren’t expecting to be wowed by something so simple. But. It. Was. Incredible – Sublime – Insane. A light brioche on the inside with parts of it soft like custard, on the outside it was toasted and covered in caremelised sugar like on a crema catalana. And the turrón ice cream, so smooth.
We had such a wonderful afternoon. Four hours passed in a giggle. The food was outstanding and there were only two other tables besides our own so it was relaxed and so much fun. I recommend – if ever you can’t get into the blockbuster Albert Adria places, try Espai Kru. It’s true that it is not as strong a concept as some of the more famous ones but it is exceedingly good.
Carrer Lleida, 7
08004 Poble Sec