Restaurant Xerta (1*) in Barcelona: the local cuisine sublimated

This stay in Barcelona had a gastronomic vocation with, in the program, two Michelin starred restaurants. One (Xerta) in a rather traditional dimension, the other (Angle) much more innovative in my opinion.

Let’s start with the first one.

As a reminder, all the articles related to this stay.

#TypeReview
1LoungePremium Traveller Lounge Orly 1
2FlightParis Orly-Madrid – Iberia – Business Class
3FlightMadrid-Barcelona – Iberia – Business Class
4HotelHotel Arts Barcelona
5RestaurantXerta Barcelona 1*
7RestaurantLos Caracoles Barcelona
8RestaurantAngle Barcelona 2*
9FlightBarcelona-Madrid – Iberia – Business Class
10FlightMadrid-Paris Orly – Iberia – Business Class

Xerta’s concept

Xerta is the name of the small village where the chef, Fran Lopez, obtained his first star. The village is located in the Ebro Delta region and the inspiration for the restaurant and 90% of the ingredients on the menu come from there, hence the emphasis on fish.

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With a Michelin star at the time of my visit, the restaurant is located in the Ohla Eixample Hotel in Barcelona.

Attention: there is also a ” Xerta tapas restaurant ” version in the same hotel…don’t be mistaken.

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The setting at Xerta

I will say that it is modern, bright and very airy.

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I often complain about restaurants with such a subdued light (euphemism not to say that we are almost in total darkness) where you can’ t see what you have in your plate, but here it is almost the opposite excess.

But if it surprised me a little during the first minutes (the habit?), this feeling quickly left me.

The restaurant has adopted the principle of the “open kitchen” but with a rather successful implementation where we can see without seeing too much.

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Xerta’s menu

Due to COVID, the menu was only available in digital format.

It is composed of several set menus.

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While I’m at it, I’ll take the Hommage menu but without Wine pairing which I’m really not a fan of. Even if the glasses are not very full, a succession of ten different wines is not an option that convinces me. I prefer to have 2 or 3 wines by the glass as we go through dinner.

The dinner and the dishes

They start by bringing me appetizers, with a little special staging…

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Surprising and creative.

Then the crab and eel ravioli.

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It is so beautiful that I dare not touch it. To tell you the truth, I am not a fan of eel and I did not find the taste of the coconut. The warm consommé is nice. It’s good but I’m a little bit frustrated.

Squid “a la romana”

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Super interesting and original. The pili is perhaps too discreet for my taste.

The ceviche comes next.

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A dish that does not need to be presented anymore. It’s good, it’s fresh, but the “killer thing” is the sweet potato ice cream. A treat!

Bluefin tuna.

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An interesting land-sea side with the carrot and pine nuts.

Baby Eel…. without any explanation this dish replaces the oyster….

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Thus prepared and smoked the eel is much better for me. Delicious.

The soccarrat rice.… with a nice staging

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Soccarat” is a practice of caramelizing rice, which some say is essential to any good paella. The smoked taste is very pleasant.

The truffled sea bass.

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The cooking of the fish is perfect, the truffle generously dosed, the alliance with the mandarin well found but there is a small smell that bothers me a little.

I take a short break. It is 9:30 pm and suddenly the restaurant is full. I would also like to point out that although I am installed at less than 2m from the open kitchen I do not smell anything.

Finally comes the duckling.

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Perfect cooking and sauce…however there was one ingredient that sometimes stood out a little too much from the sauce without me being able to identify it and which did not go perfectly with the rest.

I am then brought apre-dessert.

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It’s good, it’s fresh, and it’s welcome after the many dishes that were served at a steady pace.

Then comes the real dessert: the chocolate and seaweed cookie.

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The cookie is light, the chocolate mellow. The seaweed is underneath, almost imperceptible and it is not a bad thing.

To accompany this I ordered 3 glasses of wine: a white, a red and a dessert wine. All chosen with pertinence by the sommelier and without making the bill skyrocket.

I will finish with an armagnac and a green tea.

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Very good but the armagnac served with a measuring cup breaks the charm a little…

Some sweets to finish…

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The staff and the service

Very pleasant and friendly, not stilted at all.

Just two sequences a little less successful: an interminable wait to get my bill and then to get my coat.

The atmosphere

Muffled, nice but discreet background music, lights can be a bit strong.

Bottom line

An excellent dinner. The base is quite classic with local products from the Ebro region, but the way in which they are worked allows to revisit dishes a priori known with a new and surprised look.

The service is impeccableand pleasant, except for the two remarks made above.

In the end, all this for a 238 euro bill that I find justified.

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It is obvious that it is expensive but when you venture to a starred restaurant you know what to expect. Moreover there are 35 euros of armagnac that I could have done without.

So I say in general, in this kind of property, you should expect a high bill, the only question is whether at the end you feel you got value for money or were robbed. For example, the 214 euros paid at Yakuza by Olivier in Paris still stick in my craw more than 6 months later.

Here it is not the case, I am just happy of this experience with, moreover, a kitchen which leaves the beaten tracks a little.

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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