Hotel Bagués is in the heart of Barcelona´s most emblematic district, Les Rambles and the Gothic Quarter. Built in 1850, it is housed in what was once a historical jeweller´s shop and workshop. It has an incredible roof top terrace with pool and bar, perfect for reading the paper in the sun and taking in the skyline views over champagne in the afternoon. We arrive for lunch at 2.30pm (Spanish local lunch time) and are met by Raul who comes to chat with us and explain the menu. We decide on the executive menu which is only 22€ each for an entrée, main and dessert with a glass of wine, water and house bread... Welcome to the world of lunchtime menu del dia´s. Where fine dining costs as much as a latte back home in Australia.
Source: Roof top view from Hotel Bagués and the surrounding area of Barcelona
For our mains, Helios ordered the Lluç (hake) which is one of his favorite local fish. He wasn´t disappointed. The lluç was a pure white pillowy cloud of morish fish, cooked to absolute perfection. It was accompanied with grilled aubergine a la siciliana and crispy onion. My main was a Peruvian style soft beef, swimming in a slightly spicy broth of tomato, spanish onions and ginger. Raul had created a handful of delicately placed bite sized potato airy pillows which added some crunch to the meal.
For dessert we went off-piste and were served a delicate sable, lemon curd and strawberry dish which was tangy and sweet and I loved every last bit. The strawberries right now are huge and deep in colour and the most delicious I´ve ever tasted. The second dessert of chunky ripe pineapple pieces hidden in a white meringue and cream pile, was light and fresh and everything you needed to balance out the sugary lemon and strawberry dessert.
Top to bottom: Aperitif of tuna, Entree of cauliflower soup (soup to be poured yet!), Main of Peruvian beef and desserts of strawberry and lemon and a pineapple and cream dish.
After our meal we had the opportunity to chat with Raul about his life as a chef, food trends in Australia, and his love of Paleo (he has contributed to two Paleo books so far www.paleovida.es).
Petit Barcelona (PB): Who do you draw inspiration from when cooking?
Raul Sanchez (RS): My family is directly related to gastronomy. I was born and raised in my parents' restaurant and although that may be an advantage, it is also a big responsibility. So whenever I'm making a new dish the first thing I think is ... would it like it at home? Will they give me the approval?
PB. A common question, but do you have a favourite plate to cook?
RS. It's a question I always get (I guess all cooks) and I've never known to answer. I do not have a favorite dish but I always said that even though I like everything and I enjoy the variety of flavors, if there is a simple and rich pisto (ratatouille) on the table, I do not need more.
PB. Do you have a favourite restaurant at the moment?
RS. Over the last 2-3 years, the restaurant Suculent in Barcelona, has become the restaurant that I most recommend and I visit most often. I think it brings together what I need to feel comfortable - good product, elaboration with a lot of respect, very good service and cozy without being pretentious.
PB. Any bars that you would recommend to go out to in Barcelona?
RS. My bar I co-own in Valencia, Bar Vermudez, is an emblematic Barcelona venue of 365 days live music, where sometimes I have the honor of being invited to the stage and singing with some of the resident musicians! For me it's a fantastic disconnect.
PB. Where do you go to escape and relax when you don´t have to work?
RS. Without a doubt, as soon as I have the opportunity, I go to the village where I grew up Palafrugell, on the Costa Brava coast, where my family and friends are and where I still discover impressive places, new to me of extreme beauty.
PB. The best part about living in Catalunya is...?
RS. The best of Catalunya is Catalunya in its totality, its people, its diversity, its mountains, its beaches, its fields, its gastronomy, its towns, its cities, its history.
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