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Ca L'Isdre


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After the disappointment of the night before at El Bulli we headed to Barcelona with our hearts a little heavy but at least hoping that there was better to come on our trip. We arrived in Barcelona, after the two hour train and promptly exhausted ourselves walking to our aparthotel on Las Ramblas which we thought was only a few minutes away but turned out to be a lot more when carrying luggage. Looking through the El Gullet guide to Barcelona we headed towards Ca L'Isdre fully expecting it to be a very casual restaurant, subsequently we dressed somewhat inappropriately and were surprised when we walked through the door to find the waiters suited and booted. Initially we turned around to leave realising our mistake but then thought what the heck. If they'll let us in we'll eat here. They seemed a little flustered at first and we were put on a table in the corner, I thought they were trying to hide us away but it turns out that the restaurant was fully booked apart from a table for two which we managed to secure. The table would have been a four seater in most restaurants.

The menu arrived and we were more than a little shocked to see the prices, not expensive but more than we were hoping to pay for lunch, especially as we were eating at Comerc 24 that evening. However, one look at the menu convinced us that we could shouldn't leave and we couldn't leave without at least having 2 courses each. Specials were read to us and included a beef carpaccio with Parmesan which I couldn't resist. The Carpaccio was a plate of thinly sliced beef, dressed with a little oil and topped with slices of parmesan. The raw beef was beautiful, not to gamey which would have been a mistake in this dish, it was also exceptionally tender and quite literally fell apart when being picked up with a fork. A great start to what was going to be a great meal. Rachel's Crown of potatoes and Langoustines was fabulous and I would have been jealous if it wasn't for the beef and the fact that she gave me a couple of mouthfuls. 5 plump Langoustines arranged with 'tubes' of waxy new potatoes served with slices of summer truffle and a mustard vinaigrette. Beautiful balance to the dish, the summer truffle not overpoweringly strong as you would expect at this time of the year, the mustard dressing added just enough bite and the Langoustines were out of the shells, tender and sweet. Overall a tremendous dish.

Main courses were the roast leg of kid goat with onions in a white wine sauce - WOW! Quite literally the whole leg of goat (not as big as you might think) The goat meat just fell of the bone, tender, delicate and a little milder than lamb. The sauce was so much more than a white wine sauce. No hint of acidity from the wine and obviously made with good stock and/or the juices from the goat. Just enough of taste of rosemary without overpowering the sauce.

Rachel had a simple rack of lamb - tiny lamb chops with an exceptional flavour for an animal that had obviously been slaughtered very young, served with the meat jus and some crushed potatoes.

We had advised our waiter that we had eaten at El Bulli the day before (just so that he didn't think we were street urchins) and he was happy to converse with us in English about the meal. He was obviously passing details on to the owner as we shared our enthusiasm for the meal. We were stuffed and with dinner in mind we were about to ask for coffee and bail out but our waiter insisted that we try dessert. Apparently the desserts were voted best in Barcelona last year. We were going to share one dessert but he persuaded us to order two and arranged for them to be served as half portions. A good 'exotic fruit' salad served with a passion fruit sorbet and a pineapple tuile was a refreshing start and this was accompanied by a glass of Muscat which the owner sent over to us.

Next up came the star of the show. A Chocolate 'soufflé' with vanilla ice cream. The soufflé was more of a coulant in a ramekin. Rich, hot, liquid chocolate in the centre with a thin crust on top, accompanied by a wonderfully creamy and rich vanilla ice cream. Fantastic.

The food at Ca L'Isdre was superb, simple but effective, everything perfectly produced and using a high quality of ingredients. This meal was an unexpected treat. The owner spoke to us in his halting English after the meal and comped us coffee and Petit Fours which we were going to leave but the arrived unrequested and we left happy.

Service was fantastic, at one table a diner spilt something on his tie which was whisked away and returned at the end of meal like new. Our English speaking waiter was very helpful but unfortunately left before we can thank him.

Overall, outstanding, not to be missed in my opinion. Apparently no Michelin stars for 10 years following an argument with the inspectors over improvements they wanted made. however, this was definitely one star plus, only missing the 2 star mark due to the simplicity of the cooking. A word of warning. Our waiter advised that the restaurant was booked every night and most lunchtimes.

Edit : I forgot toadd the price including 2 galsses of Cava, a bottle of 1998 Marquess du Murrieta (sp.?) was €160

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Ca L'Isdre deserves a reservation because the food is worth seeking out and because you're likely to find it full whan you arrive, but we also showed up for lunch one day and managed to get a free table. My reaction was a bit like yours as we had been looking for another place that I believe was both more casual and less expensive, but we missed the other place and found ourselves in front of Ca L'Isidre well into lunch time and thought we should go in and try for a table as it was on our list. Although it was a more expensive restaurant than what we were looking for, I thought we got good value for our money.

Roast leg or goat and roast young lamb are things that are done well all over Spain. I should imagine they are particulalrly done well here. The chef/owner's daughter is the pastry chef. She had a nice write up in a fashion magazine when we were in Spain a couple of months ago.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 2 months later...

With some reservations, I'll add my positive response to Isidre, as the quality in my opinion has been variable over the years, I'll probably try it on my next trip to BCN later this fall.

I felt that the cooking did suffer for a while the last year before remodelling the kitchen and the rest of the restaurant. For me, one of the highlights has always been the truffled "carabineros" on potato slices with olive oil. This dish has been delivered as succulent as any, but also with dry and not quite fresh prawns.

I definetely do miss their wonderful Ensalada de Bogavante :sad:

The cabrito al horno is good, but not exceptional the way I see it.

My best fillet steak with truffle sauce ever was at Isidre in 1994...

Isidres tour de force is her desserts, I always leave room for them..

Their best waiter; Robert, sadly has left, but is now integral in his new place Colibri 5-10 minutes up the road, definetely one to be reckoned with. There, they have taken some of the best from Isidre and built lovely advanced flavoursome courses, I'll do a report when I'm back in early October..

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The lack of any stars for the great Isidre is one of the many blatant injustices in the sorry Michelin guide to Spain, which consistently underrates restaurants or indeed whole regions of the country. Viridiana in Madrid, Rafael in Castellón de la Plana, Echaurren in Ezcaray are names that immediately come to mind. And how is it possible that Las Rejas still sports just one star? There is irrefutable proof of what I'm saying: the number of starred restaurants in Spain in 2003 is the same as in 1990, before this country's amazing culinary push! Headquarters in France deny this, but Michelin sources in Spain privately assert that there are standing instructions not to increase the number of stars in this country, particularly at a tgime when the roll call in France itself has been pared down to reflect slippñing standards. Interesting, isn't it?

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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vserna,

the rumors about a restricted number of ***-restaurants are going around about Belgium as well. There are two (or three) restaurants that could have been awarded their third star, but they don't get it. There is a ***-restaurants that has its three stars already for decades, and many people (amongst which you can count me) do think they don't deserve it anymore. It is a sort of Paul Bocuse-case, the chef being ambassador for Belgian cuisine, president of chefs associations etc. As long as that restaurant doesn't loose its third star, it is presumed that one of the others won’t get theirs. The chef is about to leave, but I suspect that he will stay because of the fact that his son-in-law is more or less the chef now and I suppose he knows very well that the 'institution' in Belgium will loose its third star as soon as he officially leaves the restaurant. [i have watched the roll of him and his father-in-law quite well in the kitchen, although they denied afterwards in a little talk with them that one of them was more in charge then the other.]

Therefore the guide of GaultMillau for Belgium needs to be followed as well, since GM doesn't have that sort of restrictions.

Nevertheless I do think it is quite injustice, like you said, at Michelin's to have this sort of rewarding policy.

Edited by paulbrussel (log)
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  • 1 year later...

Does anyone have a number for this place? I have tried googling and international directory enquiries but they have nothing. However, I have seen so many spellings I'm not sure they were looking for the right thing.

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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Does anyone have a number for this place? I have tried googling and international directory enquiries but they have nothing. However, I have seen so many spellings I'm not sure they were looking for the right thing.

Hi Suzi,

I'm not too sure about the correct spelling, I think it is as in the name of this thread, but in any case this is the contact data:

Calle de les Flores 12

Phone: 934 41 11 39

Cheers,

Luis

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  • 1 year later...
  • 4 weeks later...
Any more recnt views on this place...?

I went there on the 3rd of march (last week). After walking along St Pau from Ramblas through a sketchy neighbourhood, I arrived at the street (Flores) and thought for a moment that I was in the wrong place. Walking up to the exact address cleared things up, the facade looked alot better than all of its neighbours. Inside it was like a different world, very nice very fancy. The staff was very professional and friendly. The waiter spoke excellent english (though we could have gotten by in spanish) and explained what items on the menu were in season locally. THere were 3 of us and we had the following starters Chipirones (small squid) with favas, Tagliatelle with mushrooms and truffles, and artichokes with mushrooms all were excellent. I had the cabrito (roast leg of kid) which was perfectly done and in an excellent sauce. My party also had the monkfish which was excellent and the steak which was good but not dryaged steakhouse good. Desert was fantastic I had a chocolate sabayon mixture in eggshells, the others had the souffle which was more like a molten chocolate cake and the Brownie. I am sorry I couldnt be more descriptive but I enjoyed this restaurant, it is expensive but the food is impeccable in quality and preparation as was the service.

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