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Alkimia


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I made a booking at Alkimia yesterday, and nobody there spoke English. As I speak neither Catalan or Spanish, I had to make do with my very rusty French. Do they have an English menu? Has anyone eaten there recently?

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There is an English menu but the translation is awful."Coconut Scum" still sticks in my mind. I last ate there in September and unfortuately found it lacking. The food in no way matched the menu description, substituting cockles for prawns and apricots for peachesamongst other things, with no price reduction for the cockles..The explanation was "They are old menus, not our fault."I found the staff very unwelcoming and we spent quite a while at the entrance before anyone even bothered to seat us.The same when leaving, no goodbyes, no best wishes, nobody could be bothered to move Overall view was good food prepared with imagination but badly let down by front of house.We ended up going for an extra dessert at 5 Sentits , the one unmissable restaurant in Barcelona at the moment in my opinion.

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Not because we were still hungry but because it was our last night in town and we wanted a happy memory to finish. I should add that when we went was close to their summer closure and I am guessing that the front of house staff had their mind on their holidays more than the meal. The food was very good even with the substitutions and if you hit it when the staff are on form you will be in for a treat.

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I have had an excellent meal at Alkimia, but it was a year and a half ago. I enjoyed Abac more, however.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I'm looking for a 'new gastronomy', dare I say, El Bulli type experience (as I haven't had an opportunity to sample this type of food before). On this basis, would you select Albac over Alkimia?

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It really is a toss-up, but if I had to choose, I would choose Abac. Both are good examples of La Nueva Cucina. I need to go to Cinc Sentits again as I was not in good shape when I tried it previously. I was already quite full and unable to really enjoy it. That restaurant also fits your criteria as do numerous others that I haven't been to. You really are not likely to go wrong at any of them, but based on my experience so far I would probably recommend Abac most highly.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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A strong recommendation! Thanks Doc. I am going to try to change my booking to Abac. I couldn't find a wieb site, just a tel number (34 - 93 319 6600), so will try contacting them tomorrow (no reply tonight... Sunday!).

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Once again, let me recommend the Campsa site for finding opening times as well as phone numbers. Unfortunately the newest restaurants, Cincsentits for example, are not listed yet.

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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I read with interest the comments on Alkimia. I was there 3 weeks ago, as a lone diner, for lunch, and I found the service polite. There were a couple of staff who spoke fairly decent English, and were able to help with translating the menu. I do agree that the English menu was not quite up to scratch - I encountered similar ingredient swops which was not listed, but my waitress was quick to update me.

While the food is good, I was not quite blown away. There seemed to be a "theme" running through the degustacion menu I choose - cocoa in various guises popped up in several courses. While in some instances it was very good (eg, the mocca glaze on the baked custard with duo-textured parmesan [btw, my own translation]) i did not quite appreciate it in others (eg, foie gras on toast points with a cup of cocoa consomme?????!)

I was much more impressed by another place I went - Comerc 24. Service here was, similarly, polite and professional. But it was the food that really shone. The presentation was often exquisite, ingredients expectedly very fresh, and the menu flowed seamlessly. The only "grouse" I had was that the portions was very generous - especially when it was a 11-course tasting menu! :)

I've also had the pleasure of eating at Cinq Sentis a few months ago. Food was very good (though in this instance, I found the portions a bit too comfortable). The best part of my experience there, though, was the wonderful warm service. Amelia was friendly and efficient, and even had time to give me a couple of suggestions on some good tapas bars. Unfortunately, Jordi was busy in the kitchen that evening, but I managed to get a signed menu from him, something which sadly I could not at Alkimia or Comerc 24.

In light of your criteria, I think you will enjoy Comerc 24 :)

Edited by orangeblossom (log)
Amateur cook, professional foodie!
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  • 1 month later...

I had dinner with some friends at Alkimia Thursday night. While the meal wasn't amazing, the overall level was very consistent and a few dishes were actually excellent. However, I think I prefer Hisop for a similar fare.

I can't post the pics right now as I can't find my cameras usb cord, but briefly, this is what we had as part of the "grand menu degustacion". Instead of choosing the dishes ourselves we asked the chef to do so.

1. xupito de pan tomate y llonganiza ( tomato bread shot with ... sausage?). The shot was basically a clear tomato soup with olive oil, a scent of garlic and bread crumbs. Interesting, but nothing to write home about.

2. espuma de ajobanco con aceite de oliva virgen y melocoton (garlic foam with olive oil and water melon). Really good one.

3. consomme de manzana con berberechos y ravioli de ... cigala I think. Great dish, however the apple's acidity was a tad too much and killed the dish's equilibrium.

4. tuna tataki con ruibarbo y frambuesa. This dish was excellent.

5. ravioli de col con brandada de bacalao, y pulpo. This dish is great conceptually, however it was poorly excecuted. The col was undercooked, which brought the whole dish down, since you couldn't really taste the brandade.

6. ... can't remember exactly. it was a meat dish, had to do with "head and tail", or something to that effect. Good one.

7. San Pedro con cebolla tierna. The San Pedro (John Dory) is quite possibly one of my favorite fishes. However, this one was slightly undercooked and underseasoned. It was a true dissapointment, as I got quite excited when the waitress announced the dish.

8. Foie gras con borracha de vino rancio y crema de cafe. The foie gras was great, but the coffee cream was just too strong for it.

the desserts where both excellent:

9. tocinillo con crema de yogur, sorbet y crocante

10. borracha y sorbet.

I promise to post pics as soon as I find my cord, and more info on the dishes as soon as the people from Alkimia email me the menu.

SD

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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I'm looking forward to the pics and more detail on this. If possible, could you include a few more English translations?

How was the service? There have been some negative comments on this, and it was one of the reasons that I changed my recent booking in Alkimia to Comerc 24. That said, there have been similar comments on Comerc 24, and we had a very good experience there.

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I'm looking forward to the pics and more detail on this.  If possible, could you include a few more English translations?

Hi Corinna,

which one would you like me to translate? I thought the ones which went untranslated were fairly self-explanatory.

How was the service?  There have been some negative comments on this, and it was one of the reasons that I changed my recent booking in Alkimia to Comerc 24.  That said, there have been similar comments on Comerc 24, and we had a very good experience there.

The service was ok, not great but not bad either. I went with a group of buddies from cooking school, and since the school is fairly well known in Barcelona we let them know we were coming from it (usually there are several kitchen staff members coming from the school, which always has implicit benefits for us :biggrin:).

We had one good server, who was in a really good mood, quickly answering our questions about ingredients and such, and complying swiftly with our requests for drinks, etc. She knew the school, kept on asking us what we thought of the food, explaining things, etc.

Then there was a second one who was having a really bad day :biggrin:. We addressed the problem by trying to redirect everything through the first one.

Then there was a third server who was fine, leaning towards good but nothing remarkable.

Other notes: they had two types of bread, a white one which was just common and nothing to write home about, and a nuts one which was great. Now, half-way through the service they ran out of the nuts one, and it took them about 20 minutes to bring out a fresh batch. That was a bit annoying.

My brother asked a question regarding a wine we were having (something regarding either the region or the grapes, which wasn't on the label... can't remember exactly. It was a fairly simple question if you knew the wines on the menu), and noone seemed to know the answer.

I would say that the service is more or less par with that of Comerç 24, with the distinction maybe the C24 people are more professional, while the Alkimia folks are more friendly (then again, this might be just pure luck).

SD

edited cause I can't really spell.

Edited by Silly Disciple (log)

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Thanks Silly

Thought it was time I improved my Spanish, so googled the mystery words. I now know that cigala is crayfish and berberechos are cockles (thanks to the eGullet posts that came up!).

I couldn't find a translation for tocinillo (just learned that Bux had it at elBulli!!!), so, a plea for help on this one.

Actually, the language problem (mine) was another reason that I gave Alkimia a miss. I prefer to get the detail of what I am eating in English rather than struggle with my inadequate French.

As a matter of interest, how did Alkimia compare with Comerc 24 in tems of food (I see that you mention that you prefer Hisop)?

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I couldn't find a translation for tocinillo (just learned that Bux had it at elBulli!!!), so, a plea for help on this one.

Tocinillo is, I think, a custard dessert, fairly similar to a flan. And just like flan, there's a thousand variations. Not sure if there's any particular characteristic to it, but hopefully other people in the forum (pedro? victor?) will be able to tell us more.

As a matter of interest, how did Alkimia compare with Comerc 24 in tems of food (I see that you mention that you prefer Hisop)?

Similarly priced, both Alkimia and C24 would be described as "modern", as opposed to more traditional (i.e Hispania), and/or formal (Gaig or Jean Luc Figueras). I would describe Alkimia as more of cuisine de auteur, while C24 I would characterize as being more "inventive". At Alkimia you get more of a normal menu, in the sense that you get amouses, apetizers, fish, meat, cheese, desserts, while at C24 you get "waves" of several little dishes, more like tapas.

In my experience they were both good but not excellent, with some really good dishes and some misses. I think I held C24 to higher expectations than Alkimia, and thus I thought the meal at the former was a bit dissapointing. Alkimia was more or less what I expected, given what I had heard from friends and read in this forum.

As for Hisop, I would characterize it as cuisine de auteur as well, excellent and very consistent, and fairly cheaper than Alkimia. Sadly, I've heard they might be closing in the near future.

It seems that Alkimia, after getting its first Michelin star, is going through its 15-minutes-of-fame phase, as I've heard complains that it is getting significantly harder to get a reservation there.

SD

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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I must apologize for the poor quality of the pics. In my defense, it was a borrowed camera. :blush:

gallery_6062_1303_13683.jpg

1. xupito de pan tomate y llonganiza ( tomato bread shot with ... sausage?). The shot was basically a clear tomato soup with olive oil, a scent of garlic and bread crumbs. Interesting, but nothing to write home about.

gallery_6062_1303_12377.jpg

2. espuma de ajobanco con aceite de oliva virgen y melocoton (garlic foam with olive oil and water melon). Really good one.

gallery_6062_1303_16029.jpg

3. consomme de manzana con berberechos y ravioli de ... cigala I think. Great dish, however the apple's  acidity was a tad too much and killed the dish's equilibrium.

gallery_6062_1303_4323.jpg

4. tuna tataki con ruibarbo y frambuesa. This dish was excellent.

gallery_6062_1303_10811.jpg

5. ravioli de col con brandada de bacalao, y pulpo. This dish is great conceptually, however it was poorly excecuted.

gallery_6062_1303_14969.jpg

6. ... can't remember exactly. it was a meat dish, had to do with "head and tail", or something to that effect.

gallery_6062_1303_5024.jpg

7. San Pedro con cebolla tierna.

gallery_6062_1303_3288.jpg

8. Foie gras con borracha de vino rancio y crema de cafe. The foie gras was great, but the coffee cream was just too strong for it.

gallery_6062_1303_11604.jpg

9. tocinillo con crema de yogur, sorbet y crocante.

gallery_6062_1303_6858.jpg

10. borracha y sorbet.

SD

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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I couldn't find a translation for tocinillo (just learned that Bux had it at elBulli!!!), so, a plea for help on this one.

Tocinillo is, I think, a custard dessert, fairly similar to a flan. And just like flan, there's a thousand variations. Not sure if there's any particular characteristic to it, but hopefully other people in the forum (pedro? victor?) will be able to tell us more.

I believe Tocino is fat back or uncured bacon. I assume Tocinillo, the custard dessert, more often described as tocinillo de cielo, gets it's name from its heavenly richness. I can't recall how it differs from other custards such as flan.

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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Thanks Silly and Bux

I hope you don't mind if I pick your brains further. You describe Alkimia as more "cuisine de auteur" whereas C24 is "inventive". Do you think that C24 is derivative (the elBulli legacy) and Alkimia has its own unique voice?

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Thanks Silly and Bux

I hope you don't mind if I pick your brains further.  You describe Alkimia as more "cuisine de auteur" whereas C24 is "inventive". Do you think that C24 is derivative (the elBulli legacy) and Alkimia has its own unique voice?

Corinna,

I would need to know a lot more than I do about both elBulli and catalan cuisine to give you a proper answer. However, as I've stated here, it does indeed seem like C24 is a derivative of elBulli.

On the other hand it is hard to say if Alkimia has its "own unique voice". It does fall into line with other restaurants here, offering modern re-interpretations of traditional dishes (i.e. pork's feet) and concepts (the ubiquitous mar i muntanya), with great care for quality of ingredients, etc.

Then again, wouldn't Adria's cuisine be considered de auteur under this definition? I think what characterizes Adria (and to some exent C24) is the use and focus on novel techniques to surprise the diner, rather than the re-interpretation of traditional dishes. Wouldn't you agree?

SD

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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I couldn't find a translation for tocinillo (just learned that Bux had it at elBulli!!!), so, a plea for help on this one.

Tocinillo is, I think, a custard dessert, fairly similar to a flan. And just like flan, there's a thousand variations. Not sure if there's any particular characteristic to it, but hopefully other people in the forum (pedro? victor?) will be able to tell us more.

I believe Tocino is fat back or uncured bacon. I assume Tocinillo, the custard dessert, more often described as tocinillo de cielo, gets it's name from its heavenly richness. I can't recall how it differs from other custards such as flan.

Tocinillo is made just with egg yolks, water and sugar, whereas flan needs milk. Regarding its origin, Caius Apicius -- who should be known by the readers of the Digest of Spanish Media Gastronomic Sections compiled weekly by Rogelio -- qualifies the following theory as "se non é vero, é ben trovato": egg whites where used in tremendous amount to clarify Sherries in Jerez de la Frontera. Since there was an equivalent tremendous amount of egg yolks which wasn't used, the wine makers donated them to the nuns of a convent nearby who created this dessert with them.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Thanks again SD.

Interesting comments. This clarifies it for me more.

Alikimia is v. good, I'd definitely eat there. The chef, Jordi Vila is in great form. I'd ignore the English translations and just go for the degustation menu, the place is

so reasonable you can't go wrong. I wrote about it in Travel+Leisure, in the current June issue.You can search travelandleisure.com under "barcelona".

The best casual-avant garde place is MOO at Omm hotel, from the Roca brothers of Celler de Can Roca.

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. . . .

I'd ignore the English translations and just go for the degustation menu, . . . .

I think this is good advice in certainly many, probably most and maybe all of the new creative restaurants in Spain. Of course it involves a willingness to eat many different foods and could be a problem for those with allergies or other intolerences.

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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. . . .

I'd ignore the English translations and just go for the degustation menu, . . . .

I think this is good advice in certainly many, probably most and maybe all of the new creative restaurants in Spain. Of course it involves a willingness to eat many different foods and could be a problem for those with allergies or other intolerences.

Most restaurant will ask you if there are things you don't eat when offering a tasting menu. Most creative restos in Spain work on 2 levels: a la carte menu for regular customers who might want something predictable and simple, and degustation for foodies in which chefs show off what they can really do. Degustation is almost always a better value & the only real way to see what the resto is doing.

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