Restaurant Review: Lasarte**, Barcelona
Of course, this has to be the highlight of my recent trip to Barcelona! Restaurante Lasarte at Hotel Condes opened its doors in January 2006, and just four years later in November 2009, it was awarded its second Michelin star. Lasarte is much more than chef Martín Berasategui’s gastronomic vision for Barcelona. It is a spiritual project with the very best team of professionals at its forefront that strives to delight its diners with every aroma and flavour. The journey of our tasting menu was one of the most beautiful dining experiences.
The nearest Metro is Passeig de Gracia. We started off with 2 glasses of Cava (Spanish sparkling wine), which turned out to be really good. We were then serve with 3 types of bread – baguette, seeded slice and olive brioche. Then, the same waiter brought a bottle of extra virgin olive oil and pour in a white dipping plate, to be served with the bread. When I first saw the olive oil, I was amazed by its colour, a very nice green shade that I have never seen before.
” Smell it”, Arnaud whispered. Wow, the smell was really fresh and concentrated. I can quickly tell it is of good quality. I started to dip my piece of bread into the olive oil and couldn’t wait to put in my mouth. I closed my eyes to enjoy the full bodied texture of the oil with its amazing smell, it’s the best ever olive oil! We asked the brand of the olive oil and if we could get it at the shops. We were told that the cultivator supplied the olive oil to them.
The wine list was massive. However, some on the list were no longer in stock as they were in the process of updating their list. We started off with amuse bouche/appetizers while enjoying our Cava. Not long after, our tasting menu officially started. The first dish was crispy oyster with grape fruit salad, citrus broth and smoked bonito. I love the look of the presentation. The taste combination of the crispy oysters and the slight saltiness of the fish roes was absolutely yummy.
I love the fact that we were given a small version of the printed tasting menu to refer to while eating, which I don’t find a lot of restaurant do this and I usually have to ask for one. So, I truly appreciate the attention to details. The following dish was vegetable leaves salad, herbs, sprouts and petals with lettuce cream and lobster. This dish caught my attention immediately as it was placed in front of me. It is pretty as a picture! Taste wise, it was light, and I love the clear flavoursome broth. For me, it was a great simple dish that I think is so inspired with spring and freshness.
Warm red prawn, sea urchin cream, ewe’s milk, cavair and almonds, this was probably one that I wasn’t sure I like as I am not a big fan of sea urchin. Surprisingly, it has changed my perception of sea urchin. Probably because the quantity used was small and with all the combination of ingredients that have been put together, simple yet so fresh that went down really down. The prawn was really sweet and went well with the bed of seaweed.
When I saw the following dish, farmhouse egg with beetroot and liquidised herb salad, Basque “cocido” carpaccio and smoked cheese, I was really excited. Not only because it was pretty but there seemed to be many things to try out on the plate.
Slow-cooked monkfish on a bed of bacon and parmesan, goose barnacles and cauliflower couscous, this has to be one of my favourite dishes. The fish was really well cooked and it almost can melt in the mouth. There were many textures on the plate, especially the cauliflower couscous was a brilliant idea.
Roast squab with Swiss chard stalks au gratin, cherries and apple – all I could say, the squab was cooked as how it should be and this dish was just such a comfort that I thought I needed more!
I don’t know if I really have high expectation for desserts. I am not a sweet tooth but a few times, I find it is the area that some chefs do let me down. Txakoli with blood oranges, lemon peel frozen creme and ginger water ice. When it was presented in front of me, I already loved the look of the granita-like dessert. Txakoli is a slightly sparking and dry white wine that is produced in Basque. If you asked me how much I liked this dessert, I have t say 9/10!
French toast with frozen coffee creme and plum compote – when I first looked at this, the word coffee instantly put me off. Well, am I’m not a coffee drinker, but I love the smell of it. So, I was wondering how well it would go down. Then, I was trying to imagine how the chef would bring the French toast to a Michelin star standard – taste and look wise. Well, no doubt, the whole combination of this dish got me put the idea of classic French toast behind. It just looks not French toast at all! The flavour and taste of plum compote went so well and of course, I was surprised that I loved the coffee creme very much!
It was a great way to finish off the petit fours after the wonderful journey of the tasting menu. Overall, the experience at Lasarte was great. I love the cooking style of the chef and I love that majority of the dishes are seafood, which is brilliant for a seafood lover like me. One thing that I have noticed, that none of the restaurants that I have been so far has done, was a change of napkin before dessert. I find little detail like this just makes this restaurant topping their mark of service further. Would I go back? Of course, I would. Food wise, I think, it is one of the best so far that I have tasted for a 2-Michelin star restaurant. The consistency and execution in cooking are there and the overall balance of taste was wonderful.