Best New Restaurants Barcelona, Summer 2022
Heady days for the restaurant scene in Barcelona. There are too many openings to keep track of! But these three are worth a special mention. They are big restaurants in Eixample. The latter two, Compartir and Molino de Pez, are a big deal, with the El Buli origins for the chefs/partners becoming only anecdotal. All three appeal to locals, first relying as they do on the finest ingredients Spain has to offer and enjoying the well-trained (and it bears special mention) sufficient well-trained staff. Eating at all three has made the day special, and the price point for all of them, while not cheap, is very reasonable.
In the second restaurant, are you noticing a pattern? From the young chefs that opened Batea during the pandemic. Batea continues from Besta with its pescatarian-focused menu. Except at Batea, the restaurant itself is more of a draw. There are plush booths with striped sofas in muddy pink and green. A clever graphic on the window that looks abstract but, on closer look, is a repeating stylised crab.
Batea has an ideal location on the corner of Passeig de Gracia and Gran Via in the Avenida Palace Hotel. The city’s shops are concentrated here, but dining options have remained sparse. Now with Batea, seafood lovers can share a three-tiered plate of razor clams and shrimp tartar served in hollowed-out limes and molluscs. Or tuck into a sweet yellow brioche filled with a shrimp in the tradition of the lobster roll but not relying on importing creatures from Canada.
The Batea tomato salad is clever and delicious. With tamari and mirin in minute quantities to amplify the natural umami flavours to another level. Similar things happen with a coffee flan that nails texture, depth of flavour and sheen.
This area is the heart of the city’s shopping with many hotels and hotel restaurants – in this landscape, Batea, with its well-sourced ingredients and well-thought-out dishes, is sure to be a hit.
After Oriol, Mateu, and Eduard left the El Bulli kitchens, they set up a Compartir restaurant in the fairy tale landscape of Cadaques. They followed that up with Disfrutar in Barcelona, a restaurant that resurrects El Bulli techniques and sensations without it all being a cerebral exercise. This summer, Disfrutar won third place in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, making a hard reservation to get impossible now.
Luckily for Barcelona, summer 2022 saw the opening of Compartir Barcelona. Ample space with the soft pastel palette of Cadaques sunsets. Like Disftutar, the interior at Compartir plays with positive and negative spaces. Partitions between the tables that line the walls are made of geometric wooden panelling. Big round flower arrangements and paper pendants bob genially in the space.
The food eschews the molecular path of its sister restaurant. Instead, it is saturated flavours. Things that taste perfectly of themselves are set off by things that amplify, like a good chorus to a strong performer. Thermomix love is apparent in the many technicolour sauces that undulate and shine beneath the main affair. The dish of 6 sardines is a swirl of psychedelic colours and shapes, the silver sardines sparkling in the lights, tiny towers of vegetables sprouting green tufts. There is playfulness in dishes like the shaved foie on carpaccio that has to be folded in on itself with long-handled tweezers, the precarious whole never once making it to my mouth in its entirety.
The only disappointing dish we have is the whole fish in Thai style, which is nothing of the sort but strewn with European basil and mint—quickly forgotten when the sorbet-filled chocolate bonbons arrived.
Molino del Pez
Another opening in the city from the La Ancha group. First, Barcelona got an outpost of the Madrid-born Fismuler, followed by his summer Molino de Pez. Except at Molino de Pez, the menu lists 70 dishes; it is an edible Wikipedia entry on Spanish food.
Located in the Hotel Seventy Molino de Pez is a large, modern space with an open kitchen. The kitchen boasts a wood grill and oven. Wafts of smoke escape into the dining room when the chef adjusts the wood.
The classics are all present and accountable, from meatballs and croquetas to tripe with lentils. New combinations, such as the sublime roasted peppers with sardines, make an appearance.
As with sister restaurant Fismuler, 1/2 portions (media racion) are available and encouraged, all the better to sample as much of the menu as possible. With so much expert grill work in the kitchen. Mains focus on fish or meats. Exemplary products that are enhanced with smoke and heat.
As is usually the case with a big restaurant group like this, there are sufficient trained servers. They diligently fill glasses, show up at opportune moments to ask about our meal, and give us toothy smiles. Since this is the Fismuler family, the cheesecake precariously oozing its way to the edge of the plate is a must-order. Although I have to say, I almost order a second dessert when I see a fat brown rum baba being set alight tableside behind me.