Restaurant Reviews, Part 3, and some sightseeing

16 Jul

I know I have said I’ve had favorite dishes over the past 2 weeks, and the pulpo (octopus) in garlic, olive oil and parsley at Can Juli (a restaurant in Port Lligat), above, is definitely one of them. Diana, Al, Maren and I spent 2.5 days roaming Cadaques, Port Lligat, Cap de Creus (and the St. Pere de Rodes monastery in the national park), Port de la Selva, Peralada, and Figueres. We covered a lot of ground thanks to Diana and her trusted navigating and tour-guiding.

Can Juli is an open-air restaurant on a dusty road in Port Lligat, which is home to the Dali house and a darling cove down the way from Cadaques. Here’s the outside of the restaurant.

Can Juli made the rank of 5 of out 6 on my list of restaurants, but the pulpo dish rivaled any dish I have eaten in the last two weeks. The rice dish, below, was also good, but not in the “excellent” category, in my book.

Here’s a quick view of Port Lligat as we walked from Cadaques over to the restaurant:

And, a fun pick from the Dali home. This is a pick of his work space. He sat in a chair when he painted and his easel was an electric easel on a wall that moved up and down.

Before I write just a quick review of restaurant #4 in Barcelona, I’ll post a few more of my favorite pics from Cadaques journey #2.

Here’s a pick of the gorgeous 10th century monastery called Sant Pere de Rodes in the Cap de Creus national park:

Sunset at the Cap de Creus lighthouse:

And, a picture of some crab or lobster nets (we weren’t sure) in Port Lligat:

Onto my quick review of Raco D’en Cesc. This is a VERY typical Catalan restaurant. Everything had a French influence to it, so there was cream in several of the dishes, but they weren’t too rich or overpowering. I liked that the menu was 5 small courses for 24 Euros. We started out with a light salad with lobster on top. Then, we moved onto a delicious ravioli – only 2 on the plate – but not more was needed. Then, monkfish and clams in a seafood/cream/mushroom broth – yummmm! Then, a perfectly cooked, small piece of beef with a 2 biter of mashed potatoes neatly plated beside it. Finally, a gorgeous watermelon soup with a citrus-lemon sorbet in the middle. This is a place you can honestly eat all courses and say, “That was just the right amount of food.” I wasn’t overly full and I appreciated the small bites on each plate, with the dessert being the largest (but, that was great because it was mostly watermelon soup).

Here’s a pic of dessert:

Finally, onto the by-far-and-away the worst restaurant I’ve eaten at in a long time: Hisop ( I just don’t get it. How do some of these places get their stars? This one has one Michelin star. I was so mad by the end of dinner, I even ended up writing a scathing review on trip advisor, mostly because there were tons of glowing reviews out there that led me to want to dine at Hisop.

The first four courses that came out were white. Not just the plates, but the actual food. So, it really isn’t worthy of picture posting. Not only was the food white, but the tastes were all pretty bland, until the monkfish course. The monkfish was undercooked, which you don’t want if you know something about monkfish (it tends to have worms, as it’s a bottom-feeder), and it was WAY too salty. Neither C nor I could take more than 1 bite. When the waitress asked what was wrong, I said there was too much salt. She brought both dishes back into the kitchen and returned 5 minutes later to promptly correct us and tell us that the dish wasn’t too salty because the chef tasted it. Hmmmm, really? You’re going to correct the customer when I didn’t complain about the other preceding 4 courses? Those were not too salty.

It was completely poor form, a) for the chef to want to tell us it was not too salty in his opinion, and b) to send the server out to tell us his opinion, instead of coming out himself. The arrogance and the weasel qualities combined made me laugh until he came out later to talk to the table right next to us and he didn’t even bother to stop to talk to us.

It got worse. The first sorbet course tasted like fish. Someone used the fish spoon or fish sauce spoon on the sorbet. Or, he (there were no women cooks in the kitchen when I peaked in) didn’t wash his fishy fingers and used his fingers to plate my sorbet. The reality is that all cooks and chefs use their fingers. It’s just how it goes in the kitchen. But make sure you wash them a lot and certainly between courses! I tasted my husband’s sorbet and it was perfectly fine. To make sure I wasn’t dreaming, he tasted mine and grimaced. He said there was definitely fish on the sorbet somehow. I didn’t say anything at that point as I thought that the chef and I might go to blows if I sent it back and he, in turn, sent out the server to tell me it did not taste like fish.

Overall, it was a maddening experience. So, for those in Barcelona, stay clear of Hisop. Run to Alkimia and Cinc Sentits for way better food, service, and atmosphere, albeit pricey food. They most definitely deserve their stars. Run to Raco D’en Cesc for a homey, 24 Euro, 5 course meal.

I’ll be offline for a few days as I’m heading to San Sebastian tomorrow to visit a chef friend and his family. They’re going to show me Basque country food at its finest. I can’t wait!

Before I sign off, a few last pics of the great medieval town of Peralada:

Buen Provecho!

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