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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Cinc Sentits: Restaurant

On vacation, you should always splurge on at least one meal if not more than one. Otherwise, really what kind of vacation is it? In Spain lunch is the big meal so splash out then, not at dinner. Now your concept of splurge may be different from mine. You may decide to eat in a cafe instead of having a picnic. Or like me, you might try the chef's tasting menu at Cinc Sentits, (Catalan for five senses) which cost 50 euro or about $63. Regardless of your concept of splurge, I would definitely recommend Cinc Sentits.

First off, Cinc Sentits is in an elegant neighborhood, and the restaurant is elegant as well. The tables are small and intimate and the minimalist interior feels decidedly soothing. Service is handled by the chef's mother and sister and it is friendly and shows a high level of care and pride.

The meal started off with a shot of warm maple syrup, a nod to where the Catalan chef was raised, Canada. In the bottom of the shot was sea salt, perhaps representing the ocean that separates Spain and Canada? and on top a foam of cava, that distinctly Spanish sparkling wine.

Next came a Cantabrian anchovy with a bit of mild cheese, honey vinaigrette and apple. Attractive, but not a sterling combination.

The soft poached quail egg with parmesan cream and a bit of caramelized lemon was simply lovely, delicate and balanced, soft and creamy.

The Galician diver scallop was perfectly bronzed on the outside and served with a little sweet onion, sunchoke puree and jamon "chip". A very nice version of a classic combination--scallops and bacon.

The monkfish with black olive compote, citrus caramel and asparagus tips was almost rustic in it's charm.

Iberian pork belly over a typical Catalan stew of lentils with braised grilled squid was outstanding. Every element just sang.

Slow-braised oxtail shredded and sered over a parsnip parmentier as rich and good as it looks...

I skipped snapping a shot of the artisanal Spanish cow and goat cheeses, each of which were nicely paired with a cracker, date and tomato marmalade.

Called simply "textures of lemon" this was a most refreshing dessert. A lemon cake, lemon curd, lemon ice cream, sprinkling of lemon powder and a vodka granizado. Nice. This would have made a perfect ending.

This is sadly where the meal turned me into a more slothful version of myself. The Valrhona chocolate "crocant" with praline, and roasted hazelnut ice cream was just too dense, too rich to follow such a measured meal. Worst of all I ate it anyway!

Cinc Sentits
c/Aribau, 58 between Valencia and Aragon
Barcelona Spain
(93)323 94 90