If you loved Mont Bar, you are going to love Media Manga. In fact, you might not even be able to tell them apart. As I could not. Placing my hand on the door to open it, then hesitating and tipping my head back to make sure I wasn’t walking into Mont Bar.
I’m having lunch with Tulio, a recent (-ish) arrival from Berlin. I’m holding the menu, trying to tease out the differences between the two places, the combinations seem familiar, as do the prices fixed firmly at the high end for small size servings.
“How is the menu at Media Manga different from the Mont Bar?” I ask our waiter (who I am pretty sure served me at Mont Bar once).
“Oh it’s totally different,” he replies, without explaining.
Prompted he explains “Mont Bar is more fusion, this is more classic.”
We order. Sardine pizza (3.8€). An oyster for Tulio (5.5€). Razor clams with a green curry sauce (13€), the razor clams chopped into small chunks, plated like a coma around a vivid green lake of sauce. In a heavy plate with a porous rim. We have the free-range chicken canelone (17€), recommended by our servers as one of the more emblematic dishes. And to finish, the shrimp rice (21€), so thoroughly rendered through with shrimp head juices that it is more sweet than savoury.
The dishes are visually led, with as much consideration to what is served on to how it is plated. The palate is striking. The execution tight, there are two young chefs in stiff whites working calmly in the kitchen with two other colleagues in the back. It’s nothing if not professional. The other diners are here for that, the quality of the primary materials, the ease of execution and the wow element on the plate. They appear affluent and older, forties and upwards, these are not prices that anyone can afford (particularly for lunch).
The design too speaks of affluence, it is in keeping with next door and almost more so. Heavy padded bar stools. A wraparound bar of what looks like green granite. There is a certain welcome clutter to the design as if everything has been collected over a period of time, to grow into this room. Not true, the design is new, by Cristina Carulla.
It works in harmony, the interior, the food, the chefs in their stiff whites and their customers with the disclaimer that you have to have a bit of heft in your wallet. The only thing that doesn’t make sense to me is why they would want to pay to run two kitchens that are not altogether dissimilar next door to each other. But if it works for them, who am I to question it?