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Comerç 24


Lenski
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I had eaten at Comerç 24 five or six times before. However, this time it really clicked for me. A good friend told me that he wanted to try Comerç 24 so we went to the hip Born neighborhood (just be careful at night!). I did not even take my camera (a decision that I deeply regretted) but a change of plans gave me an opening so I went there again. The menu was somewhat different but the overall dining experience was still very good. A lot better than what I had experienced before.

As an aside, Carles Abellan appeared on a morning talkshow talking about the controversial "Decreto Real" requiring restaurants to freeze all (and they mean all) fish to prevent anisakis. (http://www.aesa.msc.es/aesa/web/AesaPageServer?idpage=56&idcontent=6691). Not surpisingly, Abellan did not look too convinced about the law.

On with the food. On my earlier visit, I had the egg with truffle at the bottom, and the Pernil (ham) two ways. One was a gelee concoction and the other was the classic melo amb pernil (ham and melon). Fantastic.

As every meal I have had there, the amuse were the same two:

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Golden Macadamia nuts, rasberries and cauliflower and olives with anchovies...followed by

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Potato Chips with olive mousse (it captures the spirit of a Spanish "vermouth" tapeo).

Then something new for me: Dahsi (that is their spelling, and I do not know if it is right) soup with Wasabi Ice Cream

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The Wasabi Ice Cream was very spicy/hot. The combination of hot/cold and hot/sweet was outstanding.

Next, Oyster with Truffle oil and Horchata with Crabmeat.gallery_47955_4026_45638.jpg

The Oyster was anything but subtle. And the Horchata (orxata de xufes (horchata de chufas), made from tigernuts, water and sugar, very popular in the summer times. You have not been to Spain if you have never had Orxata) with crabmeat was a dangerous proposition with a very good ending.

Next, Sepia Ravioli (Cuttle-fish Ravioli) and Octopus with (forgive me) potato gelatin.

gallery_47955_4026_32717.jpg

Both winners. I do not know the ingredients in the Ravioli but the, literally, explosion of flavors in your mouth was both breathtaking and palate exhausting. The pulpo was refreshing and delicate. Lucky for me I had this combo twice.

Next, Scallops with Romesco and Fish (lluc,) salsa a la Pilpil (a classic Basque sauce)

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Very good. Clear tastes, nothing fancy.

Mousse de Foie and Duck Risotto

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THe little dish on top is the Kiko (salty corn) powder. Correct.

Then the last one, Steak with wasabi on potato.

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Very good also.

And then desserts,

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THe celery and apple "granizado" was the palate cleanser. Surprisingly, the Muesli with dry fruits and nuts was outstanding and so were all the chocolate variations.

Overall, two great meals. What changed for me? Not sure, but this time I think the menu, the progression, made more sense combining classic staples with original combinations. On both occassions I had the Superfestival (72 Euros) with the wine pairing (glasses between 4-6 euros each). We had more dishes than just the ones pictured above. Great service and a great place, very Barcelona as one person said.

Questions, ask please.

Lenski

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Very nice report, Lenski. Thank you. After meeting Carles Abellan at The World of Flavors Spain and the World Table Conference in November, Comerc24 rose to my short list of restaurants to visit when next in Barcelona. Your report has only reinforced that feeling. Abellan is a very personable man and quite talented as well.

I imagine "Dahsi" was a typo for "dashi, but then again maybe it was purposeful :wink: "

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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.....

As an aside, Carles Abellan appeared on a morning talkshow talking about the controversial "Decreto Real" requiring restaurants to freeze all (and they mean all) fish to prevent anisakis. (http://www.aesa.msc.es/aesa/web/AesaPageServer?idpage=56&idcontent=6691).  Not surpisingly, Abellan did not look too convinced about the law.

.....

As an aside answer, even the page you linked to specifies that

Los establecimientos de restauración estarán obligados a congelar previamente el pescado que vaya a ser consumido crudo o poco hecho,
, that is, the fish that is going to be eaten raw or rare will be frozen. What is rare, I guess that's the point to debate.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Wow......Last night we finally ate at Comerc24. We drove all day from Bilbao and were very excited.....The two hour traffic jam on the autoroute, no problem, the awful hotel, no problem. In my kitchen we have been aping several of Carles´ dishes for years and we were pumped.

Too bad: it absolutely sucked from beginning to end. Upon arrival we were instantly treated like dumb Americans and dumped at the worst table in the house, in the back by the waiter´s station and baños. There we sat for 20 minutes. A brusque mesera finally came over and took a drink order: two copas de cava. This she unceremoniously dumped into the glasses and over the tablecloth and my arm. Ditto the water. She also didn´t like the way I moved my silverware and put it back her way. Twice. OK......She brought bread, salt and poured olive oil into a bowl, onto the table and on my other sleeve. A theme was emerging.

We finally got to order food and wine. I had to ask for Spanish menus, and ask each person to explain the dish in Spanish, not badly fractured English. I mean, we COOK in Spanish......we also EAT in Spanish. The cava had been awful, so I opted for Billecart to wash it away, and asked the wine guy to pick a nice local red. When the champagne came it took another struggle with the waitress to just put the damn bottle on the table and let us pour our own.....she insisted on an ice bucket in the tiny gap between us and other Americans next to us.

The first course, exactly as pictured in the earlier post was OK......the olive spuma was nice, as were the crisps. The olives were just olives. Fried macadamia nuts? Things went downhill fast. There was a greasy mushroom ravioli with instructions from the mistress to use our hands to dip it in an utterly tasteless sepia coulis. Then came a cloudy broth with a crusted over (not on purpose, just sitting on the line too long) quail yolk with a little cracker stuck in it. Awful, and it went well with the sommelier´s red wine: thin, acid and annoying.

Finally, came sort of truffled glop on some white glop. It looked like brisket, and was stone cold. I pushed it away and asked for coffee. The coffee came.....also stone cold.

I am not a hard guy.....I love food. I have worked alongside Andoni and David Kinch. We had two one-star meals the day before in Bilbao (Zortziko and the wonderful Andra Mari) that each featured at least a couple of glorious dishes.....and no dingers....with really nice, sweet, accomodating service.

I have survived the restaurant wars in NYC, so I have ancestral memories of snotty, condescending and bad service of crappy, pretensious, overpriced food. Who knew I would have to drive all across Spain to find it at Comerc24?

The good news.....I was so upset with the meal, I called my friend Txema who is working at Inopia. He told me to calm down.....and sent us to a beautiful hotel. When we arrived, the room was bumped to a suite on the roof, the whole thing comped by.........who knows?

Someone in Barcelona with pride.....and not Carles Abellan.

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My Wife and I ate at Comerc24 in April on our gastronomic tour of northern Spain. Comerc24 was first on our list before experiencing El Bulli, Arzak, Mugaritz, Akelarre, Cinc Sentits, and Alkimia so we didn’t have anything to compare it to. In summary, we were not impressed in the least.

Service was okay, a bit rushed and a bit cold. More importantly, the food was not good. The flavor combinations were not well thought out and the pace of the dishes was way off. Most of the dishes just didn’t taste right. Either too fishy, salty or too strange. The dishes all looked great but after taking the first bite, they never lived up to their expectations. Some of the dishes were so simple in their creation, I couldn’t figure out why this was even being served.

It was really to disappointing since I was really looking forward to experiencing the cuisine of Carles Abellan. With all of the great food in Barcelona, I think it a bit over-rated and probably would not return.

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These last two reports surprise me. Though I have never eaten at the restaurant, I have eaten some of his food and met the man. My impressions are counter to what the reports have described. I am certainly not in a position to contradict or question the reports though. I am merely surprised.

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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These last two reports surprise me. Though I have never eaten at the restaurant, I have eaten some of his food and met the man. My impressions are counter to what the reports have described. I am certainly not in a position to contradict or question the reports though. I am merely surprised.

I will just echo John's comments. My last experiences at C24 were the highlights of my five trips to Barcelona and the Basque Country last year, and as I said I was not a total devotee after my first visits. Good but not great. Now, it is one of those obligatory stops.

I am surprised that it was THAT bad...did you have the Festival or the Super Festival? Did you order--from what I have heard is a no-no--a la carte? I can see where the service might feel cold, very catalan, and a tad distant but I doubt that it was that bad.

However, this is not the first time that I have heard "we were instantly treated like dumb Americans" regarding some restaurants in Spain and C24 is always packed with locals.

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We had the festival menu. Trust me, it was awful. I have been doing this for thirty years, and if any of my staff had acted so badly....or produced such murky glop, no one would ever find their bodies....

Talk about locals: we went to Inopia for lunch next day to seek out our benefactor from the night before. Turns out the owner of the Hotel (Prestige on Gracia) is a regular and was there when I called with my report. He was so appalled at the story that he comped us a suite to save his city´s honor. The owner of Inopia is an Adria, and the chef is an ex Mugaritz guy I have worked with (he started at El Bulli) so they knew that if I said it was bad.....it was BAD. Sorry guys.

Inopia was everything one would want in hospitality, grace, and quality. It looks like a cross between a sushi bar and a Baskin Robbins, and jumps with locals. Everyone treated us as locals. We sat for the entire service, ate 15 dishes.....a bottle of Cava, some peach booze they make, plus plus. Simple, local fare, perfectly prepared.

Adria himself came for lunch.

If you responders to my post remotely could stand Comerc24.....you must check out Andra Mari in Bilbao. Completely great, and gracious. And the wine guy at Zortziko made my wife cry with his beautiful presentation of a simple local wine.

Sorry, guys.......Carles has lost it.

Can Fabres for lunch today.

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At least you got to eat there.When I reserved and confirmed the table 24 hours in advance a couple of years ago they were closed when I arrived. having driven down from Figueres I wasn't too impressed.Several phone calls later i finally realised that I was speaking to Carlos Abellan who came out with a variety of excuses before finally putting the phone down on me when i asked why he hadn't used any of the contact numbers to let me know they were closing.Unsurpisingly, I have never bothered to re-book.

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We had the Super Festival at Comerc24. The only thing "super' was the price in relation to the value of the experince.

I tried to go to Inopia one day but it was closed. Not the easiest place to find either. The next day it was open and WOW!. It was fantastic and yes, very local.

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While I'm not a big fan of Comerç24 either, I can definitely recommend Carles' other restaurant, Tapaç 24, if you're looking for an Inopia-like experience.

That is to say, simple/traditional tapas produced a-la-modern-techniques-cuisine with the corresponding price tag. Very well executed though. It's on Carrer Diputacio c/w Passeig de Gracia.

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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Another view of Comerc24 from The Independent. As yet I do not have an opinion on this restaurant not having experienced it for myself, but there appears to be a major disconnect with wide differences of opinion.

Using traditional Catalan cooking as a base adds resonance as well as provenance, and the restaurant itself is run with a professional air. I like the way the Spanish look at gastronomy in this anti-bourgeois way, making comfort food slightly uncomfortable. Like Adria, Abellan likes to play with our heads, and play with his food. There is wit and surprise, and only the occasional silly or gratuitous result.

For a while there, the new Spanish cuisine was in danger of being a fascinating intellectual exercise, and little more. Now, at least we get to have a great night out at the same time - and potato crisps, too.

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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She had morning sickness.....compounded by Barca traffic, compounded by lost luggage. She sat in the car while the guy tried to fulfill their reservation.

The locals v tourists thing is no excuse. After four hours at Rafa´s I feel like he is my brother.....and Arzak welcomed us like lost friends when we had to walk all the way from downtown on San Sabby Day and arrived an hour late and dripping with sweat. Ditto Akelare, who had googled us, and the chef himself welcomed us to our table. Abellan was standing outside his little window when we paid our bill and said nothing.

Oh, and that guy paid for both meals........even the one she didn´t eat.

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One last bit of gossip. At lunch at Rafa´s on his opening day we talked about all the chefs and the politics, and all the young ex-Bulli kids. Rafa is like the uncle of everybody.

He was not surprised at our bad experience at 24. He pointed out his window and said, "He (Abellan) opened a place here, just over there. It lasted three years. I still visit some of his Mexican guys in Puebla......" Big shrug....back to work. Eloquent.

After Inopia, Rafa, Arzak, Akelare, Andra Mari.......I am still mad that I fell for the 24 hype. Abellan is not in the same universe as everyone else. Enough of that.

Caveat emptor.

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Can Fabres is the kind of place you take your mom or your grandma.....technically perfect, but......

The place itself is beautiful....a real stage. The staff is attentive to the point of almost creepy. I am not the guy who ostentatiously takes fotos of the food upon arrival. I try to sneak it in unobtrusively. Not possible at Can Fabres. Go to the servicios.....new crisp napkin. Drop your napkin, ditto. Sip your water, wine guy is right there. (Espanyol had just beaten Barca, and we got him to talk football a little....but he looked nervous to be acting human around the guests).

The food was as beautiful as the place. Technically perfect, but a little old school for this "modern" chef. The apps were a nod to the young guys.....lots of invention and color, and beautifully presented. The portions on the entrees were BIG! We could not finish the txipuron course and the chef came out to see what the problem was.....Still stressed out from Comerc24, chef!

So, beautiful, perfect, lots of food, lots of money.....but a little lacking in soul.

Is that being snippy?

Edited by Txacoli (log)
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Can Fabres is the kind of place you take your mom or your grandma.....technically perfect, but......

The place itself is beautiful....a real stage.  The staff is attentive to the point of almost creepy.  I am not the guy who ostentatiously takes fotos of the food upon arrival.  I try to sneak it in unobtrusively.  Not possible at Can Fabres.  Go to the servicios.....new crisp napkin.  Drop your napkin, ditto.  Sip your water, wine guy is right there. (Espanyol had just beaten Barca, and we got him to talk football a little....but he looked nervous to be acting human around the guests).

The food was as beautiful as the place.  Technically perfect, but a little old school for this "modern" chef.  The apps were a nod to the young guys.....lots of invention and color, and beautifully presented.  The portions on the entrees were BIG!  We could not finish the txipuron course and the chef came out to see what the problem was.....Still stressed out from Comerc24, chef!

So, beautiful, perfect, lots of food, lots of money.....but a little lacking in soul. 

Is that being snippy?

No, I don't think you're being snippy at all. My experience there nearly two years ago was something along the same lines, see the Can Fabes thread here.

I found the service over fastidious too, old style Michelin as you say, and I would have preferred less monitoring. But I thought the food was wonderful and still think about some of the great dishes I had there.

I don't mind that it's not "modern" because it's great for what it is, but I agree on the over generous portions... I really hate it when I can't make it to the very last petit four. I like the fact that not all of the top end restaurants in Catalunya are avant garde. There's been much discussion on the either or of this culinary fence, and I like to have myself plumped firmly in the middle, happily eating all around me!

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  There's been much discussion on the either or of this culinary fence, and I like to have myself plumped firmly in the middle, happily eating all around me!

My sentiments exactly. I think that there is a place in this world for these and other approaches.

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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While I'm not a big fan of Comerç24 either, I can definitely recommend Carles' other restaurant, Tapaç 24, if you're looking for an Inopia-like experience.

That is to say, simple/traditional tapas produced a-la-modern-techniques-cuisine with the corresponding price tag. Very well executed though. It's on Carrer Diputacio c/w Passeig de Gracia.

Do you really recommend this? Well, if so I can deduce my own conclusion about Inopia.

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Me too! I describe it as the best French restaurant in Spain. But if you want French........

This is Con Fabes. Yes??? Sorry it does not belong to this thread.

I suppose "French" is used here in a derogatory sense. Boring? Classical? Old style? Trained in France? Holds some French chef at high regard?

Please explain.

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Me too! I describe it as the best French restaurant in Spain. But if you want French........

This is Con Fabes. Yes??? Sorry it does not belong to this thread.

I suppose "French" is used here in a derogatory sense. Boring? Classical? Old style? Trained in France? Holds some French chef at high regard?

Please explain.

Indeed, it was intended for the Can Fabes thread. No, it's not boring (per se). Yes, it's classical. Old-style isn't the best description - everything is up-to-date (but not experimental) - techniques are classic and combinations are well-balanced.

My intent (albeit in the wrong thread) was to emphasize that Can Fabes is stylistically different from most of the other starred restaurants in Spain and more akin to what would find in starred restaurants in France.

My travels recently haven't taken me to France but the Can Fabes experience recalled food memories of several trips in the mid-late 80's and early 90's. That didn't happen at any of the other starred places in Spain, where the experiences do have more in common stylistically - with Can Fabes being in a different category. Not better, or worse - just different. And, to me, 'French'.

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While I'm not a big fan of Comerç24 either, I can definitely recommend Carles' other restaurant, Tapaç 24, if you're looking for an Inopia-like experience.

That is to say, simple/traditional tapas produced a-la-modern-techniques-cuisine with the corresponding price tag. Very well executed though. It's on Carrer Diputacio c/w Passeig de Gracia.

Do you really recommend this? Well, if so I can deduce my own conclusion about Inopia.

Vedat,

for what they try to achieve, that is traditional tapas food, I don't think they fail at it, although one could say the price point is a bit high.

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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