Hotel Omm has turned into Sir Victor Hotel, a boutique company from Amsterdam. Meanwhile, Roca Moo, the Barcelona outpost of the Roca brothers El Celler de Can Roca has become Mr. Porter Barcelona. The masculine lean of the names seem culturally deaf in these #metoo times. There’s more, Mr. Porter Amsterdam started life out as a steakhouse. Another somewhat dated concept as everyone but the US president is getting on the alarm expressway over the gasses bovines emit. Yet neither of these two observations mar what turns out to be an excellent meal.
Mr. Porter Barcelona replaces Roca Moo in the new Sir Victor Hotel.
The Hotel Om vibe has been maintained to the degree that I struggle to remember what the former lobby looked like? I think it was the same? But no, the new group would surely have put their mark on it.
The dining room at Mr. Porter is completely refurbished with semi-circular leather banquettes and dramatic lighting.
The dining room is completely different. The large windows still flank one side, with Calder like sculptures arranged amidst a green wall. But whereas a small show kitchen used to be opposite the windows, it is now vast and placed off to one side. The customary tables have given way to plush leather, semi-circular banquettes. They are huddled together, back to back in the center of the room. Two brown chairs are assigned to each one. Still, if you are in the middle on the sofa, you will still have to ask your fellow dinners to get up should you need the facilities. It does make for a striking room, particularly as the roundness of it all is echoed in the large round lights that hang above.
My lunch date and I are led to our table by a young Bulgarian woman with red lipstick and a perfect fringe. Our waiter turns out to be Filipino and tosses out delightful one-liners throughout the meal.
Mr. Porter is ostensibly a steakhouse but there are many pescatarian and vegetarian options.
The menu turns out to be ¼ meat with more vegetarian options then I have seen on a Barcelona menu for a while. This is a boon of eating at a foreign restaurant, I don’t have to wade through the obligatory our take on croquettes, our take on Ensalada Russa – Patatas bravas, en la Manera de Mr. Porter.
Instead, we start off with the complimentary focaccia, which comes from the oft mentioned wood-burning oven and is more flatbread than focaccia. Particularly when it is served with yogurt, tahini, and chilies to swab through. We “have” to try the chargrilled leek, according to our waiter. It’s a dead ringer for a calçot and I find it disorienting that there is not a hint of Romesco anywhere. There is yellowtail sashimi so good I could have easily eaten 3 portions myself, that wouldn’t be out of place in Roka or the likes.
The vegetable-based dishes at Mr. Porter shine out and generally have a dramatically different style relying on ingredients that are not typically highlighted like fresh summer corn.
The shaved salad of courgette is as spectacular as everyone says and relies on courgettes with not even a hint of bitterness. The shrimp comes with wedges of avocado and shucked corn kernels that have been blistered briefly in a pan. I only ever encounter corn in Peruvian restaurants in Barcelona. And then, it’s the large pale kind. Pan blistered fresh corn is one of the joys of summer time.
It’s our next dish that makes the thought I have been circling around come into clear view. A liver pate that makes me think of The Barbary in London. Mr. Porter is in Barcelona but it could be anywhere. It could be on one of those side streets off Harrods or some high ceiling place in Manhattan where everyone has great hair. At Mr. Porter Barcelona, there is no reference to the city it’s in, except perhaps the inclusion of more fish dishes. It’s food for jet setters, people who may have started the week in Rome, stopped off in Paris and are finishing the week off in Barcelona.
I can’t not order the dish I’ve seen all over Instagram. A chocolate shell, the size, and shape of a soccer ball. Nitrogen is poured on top so that smoke cascades off the table dramatically. The waiter’s white-gloved hands pick the thing up and smash it back on to the table to reveal jewel-like contents. A couple of meringues and other sweet debris. More exciting to watch than to eat.
Mr. Porter Barcelona will prove to be popular, I’m sure. I also think it will be a marker that an influx of a different type is finding the city appealing and might consider it as a second (or third) home material. Case in point, just up the street where Passeig de Gracia meets the Diagonal there is a Mandarin Oriental Residences opening. And the jewel in its crown, the Penthouse apartment is going on sale for an eye-watering 36 million euros.