The Barcelona Files (I): Comerς24

Eating late in Spain is not a problem as most diners and restaurants start at 9pm or later. When reserving I am always hesitant to book at 9 in order not to be judged as a tourist or food amateur. So, landing in Barcelona around 9:30 we thought would be a perfect way of having diner at Comerς24 around 10:30. Well, we actually started much later…

What made me go there? Well, I heard a couple of good things, Kobe Desramaults of In the Wulf stayed there after Oud Sluis (so it seems to be a good working experience), Sergio Herman seems to be a friend of Carles Abellan and, last but not least, I came across the blog of a young chef who is currently working there and who has a full page of enthusiastic reviews. He was very nice to arrange the table – thanks again!

Expectations? Well, somehow it seems that Carles Abellan was at the forefront of the bistronomia movement – Comerς24 has still the atmosphere of a bistro located in a renovated salting house and preserves shop, but received one star in 2007 for its new way of thinking about traditional tapas. Carles worked at ElBulli and then was supported by Ferran after his stint there. So, my expectation were high and I envisioned modern, deconstructed tapas from all over the world, something inspirational. Not really…

As our table was not ready at 10:30 we were served two cavas to made our standing between the bar and the reservation desk more enjoyable… After about an hour and some petit fours salé (noteworthy was only a very good pesto with home-made Grissini) we could seat at a couch in-midst of the hall and some proper amuse followed – we still opted for the big tasting menu:

To accompany the last real amuse, I had ordered a glas of 2007 Verdejo by Groc. The avocado and lobster maki was ok, but lacked freshness of the aubergine and the lobster did not have any distinct taste. The crisps above added some nice texture but not more.

Avacado & lobster maki

Avacado & lobster maki

Next were good and fresh Marennes-oléron oysters with citric flavours. Very good.

Oysters

About 1.5 hours later we finally sat at our table (midnight) and we served the last “Amuse” or better the first part of the meal concluded with a mini-pizza sashimi with tuna. Although the tuna was fresh, this created a nice interplay of textures, but no yumminess occurred, no fresh counterpart was involved and thus it just stayed very traditional. Ok.

Mini-pizza Sashimi with Tuna

Mini-Pizza Sashimi with Tuna

Then a surprise: mackerel marinated with citrics. A very nice pairing of the smoky and earthy mackerel with orange, pomelo and herbs. Very good!

Mackerel with Citrus

Mackerel with Citrus

The following tuna tartar was not noteworthy. Next up was melon and jamon, maybe the dish of the evening. A millefeuille of crispy caramelized jamon and thinly sliced melon worked very well in a textural, flavorful way and was just delicious. The melon cream on the spoon added another textural dimension – very good to excellent. This was exactly what I was expecting, a creative deconstruction and pairing of flavours (remember there is an Italian appetizer consisting of parma and melon;-) ).

Melon and Jamon

Melon and Jamon

Then the cuisine got lost – the seabass with potatoes, garlic and rosemary dressing was not creating any sensation at all, the fish was nicely cooked without any taste and the interplay with the a bit hard potatoes didn’t make any sense.

Seabass

Seabass

Cuttlefish and morel ravioli – the texture was a bit unpleasant, the cuttlefish or squid did not stand out at all and morels? Can’t remember… A clear miss.

Cuttlefish & Morel Ravioli

Then the stuffing of the early morning: beef cannelloni with mushrooms. You can almost feel the fat dripping out of the picture… Good taste, but much too heavy (this portion was for two).

Beef Cannelloni

Beef Cannelloni

The Kinderegg was filled with potato puree, egg and some truffle which altogether created a yummy taste – but it is not new, not inventive, there are lots of other dishes that a quite similar. The name is absolutely misleading as the Kinderegg has something to do with chocolate and milk… Jean-George Klein’s version of a truffled puree is much more refined and precise. Still good.

Kinderegg

Next up was black rice with cuttlefish. Nice but still no wow effect. By then we were so tired that we we almost fell asleep at the table (about 1:30).

Black Rice with cuttlefish

Black Rice with cuttlefish

Prawns suquet was served next. Again nothing special. I can remember that the prawn was overcooked and not very tasty.

Prawns suquet

Prawns suquet

Then a kind of wake-up: very good oxtail with cauliflower puree. Well, not really modern, but tasty yet very heavy.

Oxtail

Oxtail

Of the desserts only the muesli-yoghurt-passion (in the back of the picture) was convincing – good crisp, light and fruity interplay of yoghurt and passion fruit. The bread, oil, chocolate and salt was too salty and the other other elements not really noteworthy.

Dessert Parade

Dessert Parade

What can I say? Compared to my expectations of modern and technical new interpretations of classic dishes I have to admit that it was a failure, but maybe my expectations were wrong and too high. Alright, it could you have been just delicious beyond being intellectually stimulating. With some minor exceptions this was not the case. Most of the plates looked good but turned out to create no flavour explosion or degustation of good products. Okay, it is only 1* you might say but I am afraid it is not even that (this would mean “very good” on average).

As a last resort one could hope for good value – no, it was exactly in 1* price range which was not appropriate. Moreover, no apology for about 1.5 hours waiting time for our table and full charge of cavas which were served during our standing (!) between bar and reservation book is not my understanding of good client service.

Why is it then so “en vogue”? Good marketing, clever positioning and a lot of buzz in the net. I wish some better restaurants would have that…

Next up: Rias de Galicia, Gresca…

Advertisements

7 Responses

  1. I’ve always found the food at Comerc24 very hit and miss and the service more miss – I too have been kept waiting by the door, though without a glass of cava. But I do like the the bread/oil/chocolate/salt dessert, even if they did it better at a now closed place in Barcelona called Estrella de Plata. You were lucky you didn’t get the sticky test tube of Gin ‘n’ Tonic to finish with.

  2. Hi Rohan,
    well, I paid for the glasses;-) The bread/chocolate combination can make sense if all ingredients are there in the right proportion – a bit too much salt ruins it as in our case. The chocolate was quite intense, but nothing amazing…

  3. You were charged for the cava! Typical! I was once kept waiting for half an hour for a previously reserved table at Cata 1.81 (recommended). ‘Would you like a glass of wine while you’re waiting,’ said the owner, who I’ve since got to know quite well. ‘Thanks very much,’ I said. It was very good wine too – both generous and correct of him I thought. When I got the bill for dinner I saw he’d charged me euros 16 for it.

  4. Just a minor correction on your review. The chef/owner of Comerc24 is Carles Abellan and not “Charles”.

  5. Thanks Pork Belly, I just corrected it. This is the sort of mistake when you couldn’t speak to the chef as he was not there;-)

  6. Hi!

    We went to Comercq24 in 2006 and in general thought the meal was fine but the ambiance/service felt kind of cold. Even though we didn’t wait as long as you did, as soon as we sat down, our waitress summarized in no uncertain terms the “protocol” for ordering — no distinction between starters and main courses, order about six to eight dishes to share, or get the degustacion menu. Boom.

    So I totally get the vibe you’re describing…

  7. […] at Charles Abellan’s Comerç 24 in Barcelona (actually when Filip told me that I made me go there). After 10 months Heidi ‘called’ him back to Dranouter to run the kitchen at IdW. Kobe […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: