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La Cuina de Can Simon, Tossa del Mar, Catalunya

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Last week we were staying out of Barcelona on the Catalan Costa Brava and wanted to go somewhere nearby for a special occasion. The only real candidate within taxi distance was La Cuina de Can Simon in Tossa Del Mar, a Michelin one-star that I haven't seen mentioned on here before.

The restaurant was easy to find at the foot of the castle. The single, small dining room is very attractive and the staff, despite their extreme youth, were attentive and helpful.

My wife and I both had the menú gastronómico. This began with "a coctail and some tapas of the day"

The first food on the table was a very disappointing of trio of dried pork crackling, rice in squid ink and spaghetti snacks on sticks.


These lacked almost all flavour other than salt and did nothing to set the tone for what I was hoping would be a memorable meal.

They were followed with a melon and mint shot with fresh cockles


This was better but still a lacklustre opener. It worked, in an unimaginative fashion, but lacked any kind of real punch. Next up came a salmon mousse with olive jelly.


Again, it was... fine. Moussey. Salmoney. Very retro and well executed but nothing to get excited about.

We then moved onto the menú proper, with a gazpacho marinera of crab (buey de mar), black trumpet mushrooms and pumpkin in what I believe was a watermelon gazpacho.


I was really getting concerned by this point. The gazpacho was watery and insipid and again, while there was nothing wrong with the dish, there was very little to ignite enthusiasm.

It was with a slight sinking feeling that we received the next course, a tartare-canelón de salmón.


This was better. More depth, more flavours without losing any clarity.

Next up was something described as raviolis de gambas (prawns) which were "stuffed with pescado de escama" (anyone who knows exactly what this might have been is welcome to help me here) "and trout roe". There didn't seem to be much going on in the way of raviolis or indeed stuffed anything in the dish that arrived


but the ingredients were all there, squashed into a fishy lump.

We moved onto the last of the "starters," cocochas de merluza (hake cheeks) in a pilpil sauce with white asparagus and poached quail's eggs


This was more like it -- one of the evening's winners, subtle without being bland.

Then the first of the main courses, ventresca de atún (tuna belly) with ribbons of potato and sauerkraut and flavoured oils.


Finally, a knockout. This was one of the best dishes I've had anywhere. The tuna was first class, cooked flawlessly and accompanied perfectly by the other flavours on the plate which, in some of the oils and a disguised wasabi, offered surprises of a good kind.

And now the kitchen had finally hit their stride, the good stuff kept coming. The second main was a steak tartare


Superb ingredients, simply and effectively combined with a few interesting twists. It was also a welcome sight of red meat after a fairly fish-intensive meal!

We moved onto desserts with a rich and delicious custard, caramel and cream cup, presumable their version of an almost deconstructed crema catalana


then a palette-cleansing if eye-openingly citrussy cocktail of cointreau, lemon and orange


before their plate of many colours which was a less successful combination of different jellies and textures


and finished with some perfectly delicious chocolates to accompany our coffee.


So from a less-than-impressive start the meal finished very strongly and was overall a success. I would certainly recommend La Cuina de Can Simon but not unreservedly. It's a one-star and that's probably fair if ever-so-slightly generous. You need to be in the mood for fish as it's certainly the dominant food group of the menu but that's understandable given the location of the restaurant and the amazing produce available to them. If you are in the area then it's certainly worth a visit but I wouldn't travel specifically to eat there. There was, surprisingly, no wine pairing with the menu so I had a couple of glasses of Somontano Absum Varietales 06 which was excellent value for money, plus a couple of other drinks. The 220 Euro bill for two was on the high side considering the fact that one of us was drinking only water but it's not outrageous for a restaurant of its class.

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There are certain parts of Spain where Michelin's proverbial stinginess with stars for this country's restaurants (just a few more than for Switzerland) transforms itself into generosity. The coastal, touristic areas in particular.

Victor de la Serna


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i dined here this week and sorry to have to say it was a dreadful meal from start to finish, the balance and seasoning of dishes didnt work, some even clumsy on the execution, i was really deflated after leaving here, no fond taste memories to recall on a coastal walk.

thinking over the dishes, in particular the white green and black dessert (which is shown above) was horrid for me :wacko: with the use of food dyes to create the look shame about little effort focused on the taste. i can not even begin to compare this to ca cento or mas pau where we dined very well, did i go on a bad day?

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It sounds like you did indeed catch them on a bad day -- although there's no excuse for days that bad in an expensive restaurant. There was certainly plenty to criticise when I was there but plenty to praise too. That desert was particularly poor but the ones that came before it were fine.

I enjoyed my meal there -- overall --but probably wouldn't go back especially based on what you've said. My own meal lacked consistency and it seems that it's a major problem for them.

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