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Girona Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


pedro
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It may just be worth my pointing out that (at least when I went in May) at Can Roca, the €75 selection is billed as the "surprise menu" - obviously with no further details provided. The tasting menu costs around €55-60 and consists of around 7 or 8 fully detailed courses and would still be an excellent option for anyone on a budget.

Looking forward to Pedro's write up!

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I need to find a decently priced restaurant in the Girona city area to take the full family (father, brother, wife and 2y.o.) on Sunday night. Any suggestions?

A nice family place is La Roca Petita at Riudellots de la Selva - just six miles outside of Girona on the road to the Costa Brava airport - and it's open on Sundays. Your basic Empordà fare - including snails, natch! Very authentic. It'll set you back about 30 euros per person.

Edited by vserna (log)

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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  • 7 months later...

The title says it all. After elBulli and Can Roca, we'd like to spend a few days inland, eating well, but perhaps traditionally and not with a tasting menu. After that we'll be headed back to Barcelona, so some rustic country inn would also be a nice recommendation. Most of the recommended places I've run across seem to be creative and we'd like to have a good traditional meal or two. It could be lunch, if there's no place to stay near by, or dinner.

Out alternatives are to visit the Emporda, or enjoy some more creative cuisine near Girona or Vic. High quality is a concern, but there's no particular scale of comfort that's on our minds if the cooking is good.

Robert Buxbaum

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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.

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I was planning a trip in that area last year which was frustrated in the end, but here's the recomendations that I got from local friends around La Garrotxa, a volcanic area with strombolian mountains and beatiful landscapes:

- In Santa Pau, a beatiful midle age village is Cal Sastre and don't forget to try the monjetes de Santa Pau, a local pastry.

- In Olot, Les Cols is the creative place to go, but La Deu is what you are looking for.

- Vall de Vianya is got Ca la Nasia, terroir food at reasonable prices.

Hope this helps as a starting point.

Rogelio Enríquez aka "Rogelio"
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Thanks. I wish we had more time to eat everywhere. I remember the discussion about Les Cols and I recall their web site. It would be a hard place to pass up. It is possible to have too many choices. :rolleyes: I see all of those with one exception, listed in Campsa so I have the addressses and phone numbers. I didn't see Ca la Nasia in Campsa (I have last year's edition) but I saw a Ca L'Enric.

I hate to give Michelin credit in Spain, but they list both Ca L'Enric and Ca la Nasia. Ca L'Enric has both a star and a sol and it seems to offer rather traditional food. Have any of our viewers any experience with either restaurant. A no star restaurant might actually suit us better if it's the day after we dine at elBulli.

At any rate, I expect the area around Olot will be a stopping place, either for lunch or for dinner and the night. We can drive through Besalu, where I recall seeing a lovely bridge that's well worth a second look.

Robert Buxbaum

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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.

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Ca l'Enric is indeed the best restaurant in the area. The cuisine, however, is not fully fledged traditional fare, but it's subtly modernized. The only two places with un-modernized cuisine which have managed to hang on to a Michelin star in Spain are Madrid's Casa d'a Troya and Arenys de Mar's Hispania (actually, Hispania has mysteriously regained it this year after mysteriously losing it five years ago.)

Of course purely traditional cuisine is a rarity these days in Catalonia. So a Ca l'Enric is as good a choice as you'll find.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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If you are around Besalu/Olot don't forget to give Mas Pau a try, not traditional but with what I would say was a far from modernist approach given the Bulli connection. A nice place to stay and great cheeses and wines. I have never been disappointed.

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A no star restaurant might actually suit us better if it's the day after we dine at elBulli.

A couple of places in that area are:

- Can Kiku in Lladó (Plaça Major, 1; half way between Figueres and Besalú, near Mas Pau in Avinyonet; phone # 972565104). Simple, traditional, cheap fare that is good enough, plus it's a nice small village and the restaurant is also a F.C. Barcelona shrine, with lots of signed pictures from players.

- Ca La Manyana in Sant Julià de Vilatorta near Vic (Avda. Verge de Montserrat, 11, phone # 938122494). Very good traditional food and not quite "discovered". It's amazing that you can eat there on a Saturday without a reservation. Daily menu a tremendous bargain at 12 euros.

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As we may try to enjoy a few days without plans and never know when we will have an appetite for lunch or dinner, or how much of an appetite we will have between the starred meals, names of places that don't require reservations are good to know. Thanks all. By the way, when I say west of Girona, we're happy to venture west of Vic, as well.

Robert Buxbaum

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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.

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As we may try to enjoy a few days without plans and never know when we will have an appetite for lunch or dinner, or how much of an appetite we will have between the starred meals, names of places that don't require reservations are good to know. Thanks all. By the way, when I say west of Girona, we're happy to venture west of Vic, as well.

Hi Bux: Your interesting venture to go traditional after elBulli is intriguing. Even more enlightening was Victors report that there are few Catalonian restaurants that serve excellent traditional fare. Could we hear more about the distinction between modernized cooking versus traditional fare? I am interested in comparing the culinary virtues of both styles. Specific examples of superb traditional Catalonian fare would be most helpful. I appeal to the most informed eGullet members on this matter. Victor seems to be aware of these differences. I hope he will respond to this question or anyone else that can throw light on these distinctions. With anticipation, Judith Gebhart
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This is no great revelation, Judith. Everyone knows about it. Almost no top-notch restaurant in Spain will serve unmitigated, 19th century-styled regional dishes to you. Even 'traditional' places will most often try to develop streamlined, even minimalist versions in which Adrià's ideas are often, although often marginally, present. That is, they will try to be true to old-time aromas and flavors but will not attempt to serve you a heaping, fat, calories-laden potful of stew; they will also find more modern presentations. This is apparent throughout Spain (see the kind of food served at Las Rejas or Ca Sento or Quique Dacosta), but most obvious in Catalonia, where "let's be modern!" seems to be the national motto. There are good, commendable places like indeed Hostal de la Granota in Sils, mentioned in another thread, or Set Portes in Barcelona. But they are certainly not considered part of the current culinary elite.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Does anyone have any experience or knoweldge of La Fonda Xesc in Gombrèn (northwest of Ripoll)? It has one sol. It sounded promising from the listings in Campsa and Michelin, where it is a "bib" restaurant. The menu, at first glance, reads a bit too internationally and not all that traditional. Then again it offers a course of Pie de cerdo, "espardenyes" y butifarra negra and a few other dishes the look and sound like something I won't find in NY.

Robert Buxbaum

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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.

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Not only won't you find it in NY, but elsewhere in Spain you won't often find a chef gutsy enough to place pig's feet, blood pudding and 'espardenyes' in the same dish! I haven't been to Xesc, but I think it's precisely what we're talking about here - lots of Catalan roots, but clearly modernized stuff.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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  • 3 weeks later...

If you are looking for catalan roots you can try Can Mia in Palol de Revardit in the route btw Girona and Banyoles, another place could be Can Roca in Esponellà, also in the Pla de l'estany (near Banyoles)

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  • 2 weeks later...

A large portion of pig's feet, blood pudding and sea cucumber proved to be quite the dish, after a day of much sun while sightseeing and through the windshield while driving west from Roses. We did make it to La Fonda Xesc in Gombrèn and were rather charmed. My eyes were bigger than my stomach but it was a meal I enjoyed. The restaurant has rooms above and in spite of the fact that noise from the corridors and adjoining rooms carried about as well as in a Japanese Ryokan with paper walls, we enjoyed a good sleep. The bed was good, as were the towels and the water was hot, but it's the food that's worth noting.

We started with a very successful and refreshing strawberry gaspacho. Unless I hear from one of our Spanish members, I'll assume this was a creative adaptation. Of course, I run the risk of having Victor or Pedro remind me that I still know nothing about Spanish food. Whether it was that the berries were not ripe, or that the chef achieved a perfect balance with the vinegar, the soup was not at all sweet and a good dollop of cucumber and garlic set it all off very nicely.

The rice with squid, artichoke and black trumpet mushrooms was certainly one of the best, if not the best rice dish I'd ever had. Later our waiter was to tell us that Santi Santamaria has said that this dish at Xesc was the best rice dish in all of Catalunya. In principle I can't support such hyperbole, but I certainly can't argue the point after having had the dish. Unfortunately courses in Spain can be enormous and I was unable to stop eating this rich unctuous rice.

I was quite sated by the time my main course arrived. Needless to say this one was way off the charts in terms of richness and unctuousness. Had it also not been intriguing and delicious, or had I had the option of ordering it again in a week or a month, I think I might have just gone for a walk in the fresh air right then. Under the circumstances however, I could only finish about half, which by itself seemed a reasonably sized course of such food. I could only offer my apologies to the chef and go to bed without dessert, but pleased to have had a chance to taste all that I had that evening. It was a perfect fit in our gastronomic experiences.

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.

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. . . . .

We started with a very successful and refreshing strawberry gaspacho. Unless I hear from one of our Spanish members, I'll assume this was a creative adaptation. Of course, I run the risk of having Victor or Pedro remind me that I still know nothing about Spanish food. Whether it was that the berries were not ripe, or that the chef achieved a perfect balance with the vinegar, the soup was not at all sweet and a good dollop of cucumber and garlic set it all off very nicely.

. . . . .

To the best of my knowledge, the strawberry gazpacho is a creative adaptation. The first place where, years ago, I sampled variations on gazpacho adding some fruits (and arenque ahumado or kipper) was at Viridiana. Nonetheless, I think these variations are one of those things which can have been developed more or less at the same time in different places, which makes extremely complicated ascribing a single author to them.

Regarding the balance of the dish in terms of sweetness, keep in mind that tomatoes are still used in a ratio of 1/1 regarding the weight of the strawberries.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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To the best of my knowledge, the strawberry gazpacho is a creative adaptation. The first place where, year ago, I sampled variations on gazpacho adding some fruits (and arenque ahumado or kipper) was at Viridiana. Nonetheless, I think these variations are one of those things which can have been developed more or less at the same time in different places, which makes extremely complicated ascribing a single author to them.

Regarding the balance of the dish in terms of sweetness, keep in mind that tomatoes are still used in a ratio of 1/1 regarding the weight of the strawberries.

We didn't ask for the recipe, but I suspected there were tomatoes as well as strawberries in the soup.

gallery_9_1286_9185.jpg

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.

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gallery_9_1286_11195.jpg

Peu de porc, espardenyes i botifarra negra.

Apparently, this is not all that untraditional a dish. We were told that the only creative aspect for which the chef takes credit is combining both pig's feet and blood sausage.

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.

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To the best of my knowledge, the strawberry gazpacho is a creative adaptation. The first place where, year ago, I sampled variations on gazpacho adding some fruits (and arenque ahumado or kipper) was at Viridiana. Nonetheless, I think these variations are one of those things which can have been developed more or less at the same time in different places, which makes extremely complicated ascribing a single author to them.

Regarding the balance of the dish in terms of sweetness, keep in mind that tomatoes are still used in a ratio of 1/1 regarding the weight of the strawberries.

We didn't ask for the recipe, but I suspected there were tomatoes as well as strawberries in the soup.

Well, I have to confess that I wasn't totally sure about whether the gazpacho made using some kind of fruit was a creative dish or not. So, I took advantage of the weekly El Mundo's Encuentros Digitales with Abraham García , and asked Abraham about it. You can find the whole text here (question 6), but let me translate his answer:

"Half a century ago, in my small village (Montes de Toledo) it wasn't infrequent to find in the gazpacho icebergs of melon, acidic morello cherries or small slices of pear. 'After Altamira . . . everything is plagiarism', cursed among brushtrokes that bald malagueño, lucid and fornicator."

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Does anyone have any experience or knoweldge of La Fonda Xesc in Gombrèn (northwest of Ripoll)? It has one sol. It sounded promising from the listings in Campsa and Michelin, where it is a "bib" restaurant. The menu, at first glance, reads a bit too internationally and not all that traditional. Then again it offers a course of Pie de cerdo, "espardenyes" y butifarra negra and a few other dishes the look and sound like something I won't find in NY.

I've been to Xesc. Food's really good, neo-traditional. But place is a little depressing, was empty when I was there. Also, it's really out of the way. They have a few rooms upstairs but very pokey. It might be nicer in summer though, I went in November. Les Cols in Ripoll is actually amazing, food is pretty traditional as far as food goes in Spain and the decor just blows your mind. I love the owners, too, they are the sweetest people.

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As you may have noticed, we've been there since I first posted. I knew of Les Cols from it's web site and from a post here on this site. It, and a few other choices near Olot and Ripoll would have been excellent choices for choices for us, but we wanted to get a bit off the beaten path, so the fact that Xesc was out of the way was part of its appeal to us. I can imagine that in November it might not have had the charm we found at the end of May, but the dining room has a nice fireplace. There were not a lot of diners when we were there. There was a table of two and a table of six, but the table of six were quite "festive." In fact, they made me think of how Americans are usually singled out for being loud. In fact, that usually happens in France. It's the French who are quiet. Then again, in a bar in Madrid, the owner was telling someone at our table about a party of Spaniards who were complaining about a table of Frenchmen who were making too much noise. We all thought that was much like hearing about a man biting a dog.

Aside from a comfortable bed and a good shower, the rooms upstairs at Xesc are rather spartan, but we enjoyed that too. I'm sure our choice was a very subjective one. The more objective choices would have been Les Cols, Ca L'Enric or maybe even one of Rogelio's suggestions. I suspect all them would have been the right choices.

Robert Buxbaum

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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.

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As contrast to that rather rich dish I had, it might be worth knowing that the current web site for La Fonda Xesc also shows a spring vegetable menu.

MENÚ VEGETAL primavera 2005

Bunyols de carbassa i matafaluga

Gaspatxo de maduixes, menta i amanida d'herbes

Fred i calent de moixernons i safrà

Carxofes, coriandre i vinagre vell

Pasta fresca, avellana, faves i pèsols

Mango i fruita de la passiò

Pistatxo, alfàbrega i llimona

MENÚ DEDICAT AL JARDÍ BOTÀNIC DE PLANTES MEDICINALS DE GOMBRÈN

I can't promise it's a true menu suitable for vegetarians, but it appears to be meatless in the all the ingredients lists. Vegetarians are sometimes disappointed to learn that a vegetable dish often comes with well endowed with morsels of ham in Spain.

Robert Buxbaum

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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.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We have three days in the Roses and Girona areas of Spain on the Costa Brava at the end of our trip to Europe.

So far I have failed to get reservations at Michel Bras, El Bulli and El Celler de can Roca (closed for the first two weeks of July).

We will be trying to get a reservation at Rafa's, but the way our luck is going they will either be closed or booked.

I will be calling two weeks prior and hope to luck out and will also be calling El Bulli and Michel Bras just on the off chance there is a cancellation.

So, with all the seemingly top choices booked or closed, I was wondering if there is any other high end or Michelin starred restaurants that you might suggest for us.

Many thanks in advance.

PS We have a car so anywhere within a half hour or hour of Roses could be taken into consideration.

Frances

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I'd kill myself, but if you're not that obsessed, a look around the site ought to bring up a few examples. Starting in Roses, right across the street from Rafa's, there's SnackMar/Las Golondrinas. We were a walk in for lunch and enjoyed some excellent tapas. What's available is going to depend a lot on what's available to them, especially in terms of seafood, but what they serve is not only fresh, but imaginatively prepared with finesse and care, albeit in surrounding that are simple.

I've not been to La Llar, just outside of town, but it comes highly recommended from no less an authority than Rafa. I should also note that he's a friend of the owners, but knowing they're all part of a small gastronomic community should offer some hope. I believe there was another place in Roses that was also suggested in this forum, but whose name slips my mind.

I asked for suggestions west of Girona recently, but some of the suggestions were actually northeast of Girona and around Figueres. Sant Pol de Mar and Sant Celoni are probably further than you care to travel, although both are home to truly excellent destination restaurants.

Robert Buxbaum

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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.

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IMO the two other "must" restaurants in that vicinity are El Raco de Can Fabes and Sant Pau. Neither are exactly right around the corner, but then they aren't that far either. Both are worth the effort and cost. Can Fabes is 3*** and Sant Pau 2**.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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