Albert Adria is coming close to having more restaurants than I have fingers on my hands. Just a couple of weeks ago a new one opened. A fancy taqueria called Niño Viejo (a collaboration with Paco Méndez). It will soon be joined by an even fancier Mexican restaurant.
Not unusually, Niño Viejo is located within the small perimeter of all the other Adria restaurants in the unloved area of Sant Antoni. In true Nancy Drew style, I plotted the addresses of all the restaurants on Google maps. A geriatric with a zimmer frame would have no trouble at all scooting in between these restaurants.
Which makes me wonder? How much is the current expansion about restaurants and how much is it about property development? You think I am over thinking things? With the opening of Union Square cafe in 1985 – Danny Meyer helped regenerate an entire area. The Adria brothers in partnership with the Iglesias brothers, restaurateurs themselves, are putting all their chips within one square mile. Their restaurants are all booked (less so the Iglesias ones, the ones without the pictures on the BCN 5.0 website) but think what unimaginable riches they could attain with a nice property portfolio tacked on to those restaurants?
Anyway so Niño Viejo. Adorable. From the brightly coloured Mexican style oil cloths on the table to the red neon “Taqueria” sign inside. You are supposed to mark off your orders on a sheet of paper and give it to the waiter. But that evening our waiter seems to be Niño Viejo’s biggest fan and he hovers over us while we decide pushing us to order the whole menu because it is all so good. “They even have a nopal (cactus) salad – my mother used to turn it into smoothies when she was dieting.” Aha – talk about too much information. If anything, he oversells the whole thing.
All the accessories I have come to expect from the Adria group are there. For example, the guacamole comes in an immaculate pestle and mortar, in which it was not made, with the pesky pestle still in the bowl resting against a clean avocado stone – making it an ordeal to get at the guacamole. The tacos(€3.10 – €3.50) are all very delicate and probably filled with those long tweezers that Grant Achatz keeps in his collar. Unless you are a die-hard Mexican food fan, I suggest you give the Huitlacoche (corn fungus) taco wide berth.
It was all nice. The packaging even if it was on the excessive side was probably more impressive than the food but overall nice. I was disappointed with the flavour vs price ratio for the Pico de Gallo (€8.50). It was 2 scant tablespoons worth of diced tomato with lime zest running through it and not enough salt – not worth it at all. The Cajeta filled mini donuts (€7.10) were not worth it either but the corn flan (€3.80) more than made up for that.
Overall? Happy and excited to have a new Albert Adria restaurant in town. Looking for flats on the very pretty Avenida Mistral just in case my conspiracy theory is correct. And thinking of checking out Paco Méndez (the chef’s) recommendation for Mexican in Barcelona: Tlaxcal.
See this and find more addresses on my Foodie in Barcelona Map
Avenida Mistral 54
Reservations: +34 933 482 194
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