Carles Abellan’s La Barra is on the first floor of the W Hotel. It’s a large restaurant with windows overlooking a terrace which in turn looks out on to the beach. The space is broken up by an enormous horseshoe-shaped bar and kitchen.
Fine dining seafood restaurant with a view in the W Hotel by chef Carles Abellan
But what about the food? Good design is not going to fill my belly. As you would expect of a restaurant in a hotel where the average room goes for 450€, prices are dear. Sofi and I have agreed a per head spend of 40€ each. An ambitious undertaking, I admit. When the waiter comes to take our order, we confess that we are trying to order strategically.
He understands this to mean what we want him to: that we are on a budget. What follows is the difference between a great restaurant and a good one. They decide to treat us even better. Going as far as plating our single order of tuna escabeche on to two plates.
Full marks for the exceptional service we received despite being on a modest budget.
Exceptional hospitality was Will Guidara’s strategy for propel Eleven Madison Park to the number one spot on the World’s 50 best restaurant list. While kitchen innovation has been galloping ahead, front of house remained static. Food is important, design yes but how do you feel after eating somewhere? Special?
The enlightened restaurant understands this.
Our strategic order looks like this:
Berenjena en adobo andaluz 11€
Calamar Relleno a La Brassa con yema picante 18€
Atún rojo de almadraba en escabache 26€
Arroz de gamba al ajillo 33€
2 glasses of white wine 10€
We are treated to a bread service and vivid green olives by the restaurant.
Around us, bigger tables are getting copper cauldrons of stew big enough for a small child to sit in. At our corner table, Sofi and I eat slowly and enjoy the view. To round off what is already shaping up to be a great lunch, the man himself, Carles Abellan enters trailed by a film crew. With a thick head of silver hair, he is handsome enough to be mistaken for a movie star. I catch his eye and smile at him as he passes by and he smiles back broadly and asks how we like the food?
It’s good I think. But besides the view, the most memorable bit of today will be the service we’ve received.