I’ve been on this street before. To eat at Cinc Sentits across the way. I never noticed Cruix. It looks like most other bar-restaurants. Seats outside with some umbrellas provided by a beer company. Long and narrow with a forgettable interior and brown tiles on the floor with black grouting. Paula Mourenza, the Spain manager for food tour company Culinary Backstreets has picked Cruix for lunch today.
She’s done her research and she is here to try the rice dish. I am not as rice mad as my local friends. I like it sure, yes but I won’t compose an ode to a rice dish.
Paula recommends we go for the Cruix menu for 28€. It has all the dishes she wants to try, including the rice. The chef Miquel Pardo is from Valencia – promising that the rice probably deserves the accolades it has been receiving. Carlos Rodríguez is in charge of front of house and flits about from table to table during what turns out to be an extremely busy lunch service. The people around us are local. Young men in suits on lunch break. Older gentlemen next to us, taking their time with a bottle of wine.
We start off with olives with a distinct green hue and taste. They are cured in house and then marinated in vermouth and secret spices. Bunyols de bacalao shows up masquerading as churros, long with serrated edges to be dipped in a heady garlic emulsion. The mascot of Barcelona, the croqueta is here but in this case, it is run through with roast Peking duck. A house-cured anchovy is a think of beauty, served on a shard of bread.
I am less taken with the vegetable dishes, as I usually am in Barcelona. There is a dish of courgette noodles in pesto, beetroot hummus with truffle oil and Indian Papapdams and one of shredded broccoli on top of Romesco with the broccoli blowtorched for the smoke. All good to eat at the time but not to return for.
The dish I would return for is the rice. The name alone: Arroz de lágrima ibérica y berenjena. The Iberian tear turns out to be the thinnest of slices of pork fat, rested ontop the hot rice and rendered translucent. Though much is made of the similar Italian Lardo, this is the first encounter with its Spanish cousin. As it turns out, it’s just what the dish needs and the melting cubes of aubergine when encountered against the gritty crunch of rice that has become adhered to the pan. Well, it puts the whole rice thing into perspective for me.
Tears make an appearance once again before we leave, in the form of one of the two desserts. The first is Kaki with red wine and crumble. The second is two miniature ice cream cones. Served upside down on a plate of shaggy flakes atop a chocolate mousse. Cruix’s has named this dia triste en la playa or sad day at the beach. More art installation than dessert except that eating a miniature ice cream is fun even out of context.