Monday, October 1, 2012

Hisop (Barcelona)

October 2012

Passatge Marimon No. 9, 08021 Barcelona, Spain
Tel: +34 93 241 3233

Just a few steps off the main street of Avinguda de la Diagonal is a small and understated restaurant, Hisop. A recipient of one Michelin star and helmed by chef Oriol Ivern Bondia, the relatively little publicity which we could find on this restaurant made it difficult for us to know what to expect when we took our mid-day walk from Plaza Catalunya up the Passeig de Gracia and along Avinguda de la Diagonal to this restaurant. The fact that it was open for lunch on a Monday was one of the reasons we made a booking here, but we had also seen a few good reviews about its contemporary Catalan cuisine.

The interior, like the shopfront, was very minimalist and the dining space was very small (maybe 10 tables in total?), but the the tables were well spaced and it felt like an intimate restaurant. Service was warm and unpretentious, and with some help, we had placed our orders from the a la carte menu and paired the food with some cava and a half bottle of Rioja (Marques de Murrieta 07).

Amuse bouche of anchovy on a slice of pear, sichuan pepper and crispy toast (presented on a stone): delicious.

Amuse bouche of sphere of Catalan cheese, chanterelle and wine jelly: also very good.

Smoked king prawns with porcini mushrooms: A local favourite, judging by the number of local diners who were also ordering this, and rightly so, as it was excellently done.

Grilled turbot with pistachios: We have always thought that turbot was a fish which was difficult to cook well and the best ones have been those we have eaten at some of the best restaurants in Paris (in particular, at Ledoyen and Le Meurice). This was probably not at those standards but was nonetheless very good.

Suckling pig with plums: We enjoyed this very much as well. The suckling pig skin was quite thin and very crispy and the natural gameness of the meat was subdued very well by the sweetness of the baby carrots and use of plums in the dressing and sauce.

Pigeon with cocoa and aubergine: A quite classic dish well executed.

Pre-dessert of camomile soup, lime sorbet and celery: Refreshing and given a twist with the use of celery in the dessert.

Chocolate, smoke and raisins: This came highly recommended by the waitress and she wasn't wrong. the smoke was very distinct and the chocolate excellent.

Grilled milk and hazelnuts: Though very nice, this was less impressive than the chocolate dessert, and was no more than a reduced milk ice cream with a hazelnut foam.

To round off the meal, we were served mignardises and some very interesting and tasty sugar-coated olives.

Final Thoughts: We enjoyed our lunch at Hisop. Despite being a 'high-end' restaurant, it did not have the usual stuffiness which could be associated with dining at such an establishment. We were impressed by the quality, honesty and unpretentiousness of the cooking and were made to feel very welcome and comfortable during our time there. 

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