“The world contains 40,000 lions but, by way of contrast, there are around 1 billion domesticated pigs; 500,000 elephants and 1.5 billion domesticated cows; 50 million penguins and 20 billion chickens.” (Excerpt from The Guardian Newspaper)
How is that for creepy statistics to start off your day? And even if you are ok with that, it turns out that over consumption of processed meat causes cancer.
Which is why Teresa Carles is exceptional, in this Spanish land where everything comes with animal. It is a vegetarian – often vegan restaurant (using a vegan form of Mato in it’s Lasagna for example). Add to that Teresa Carles’s location: a large restaurant, spanning many shopfronts a 3 minute walk from Plaça Catalunya.
And inundated with accolades.
When I review a restaurant, I do it at two levels. The first is at a local level – how is this restaurant compared to its peers? Does it even have any peers? (In the case of Teresa Carles – not really, they’ve been doing it the longest, they are the biggest and they are expanding rapidly adding Flax & Kale and various Juicery outposts to their kingdom).
The second is Internationally. How does Teresa Carles compare to similar restaurants in Paris, London, New York – say?
While Teresa Carles is exceptional in Barcelona, it hovers closer to the “OK” mark when I compare it to other cities.
In case you didn’t know – vegetables have been having a moment. Alan Ducasse discarded most of the animal from his Michelin starred restaurant in 2014, they were the main even at the incredible Ubuntu (now closed), Ottolenghi & Tamimi have been championing it in London (although they are not vegetarian) and Bon Appetit’s restaurant of the year this year is Semilla “a vegetable forward” restaurant in Brooklyn.
At Teresa – the vegetables are present, as is the wholegrain rice and even exotic ingredients – like pomegranate (in 2 years of eating out, this is the first time I have had them served to me).
The mains are what I find disappointing. As a mushroom lover, I find my plate of soggy, watery fare tragic. Switching to the wholegrain rice doesn’t improve things, it is full of raw slivers go garlic. My friend’s spinach lasagna features boiled (boiled!) diced carrots and the lasagna has not been warmed through to its centre.
Eating feels like hard work and you aren’t going to win hearts and minds if it feels like hard work.
Vegetables are straightforward to cook, just like their protein counterparts – they respond well to searing heat but produce school dinner aromas when cooked in water. Also herbs are not a garnish – they bring flavour to the party. Meanwhile – bring on the spices, break out the miso, ingredients with verve that can turn a humble vegetable into something outstanding.
They’ve cracked the pud category though: an almond date pudding, thickened with quinoa with some halved grapes bobbing around and a jaunty spring of mint. Smart, healthy, bang on-trend.
So where does that leave Teresa Carles? Great on a micro level, so so on a macro one.
See this and more addresses on my Foodie in Barcelona Map
Carrer de Jovellanos, 2,