Jordi Artal demonstrates that Catalan cuisine is more than just tapas at his family owned and run Barcelona Michelin star restaurant, Cinc Sentits.
The plates at Cinc Sentits are equal parts beautiful and delicious. Self taught chef, Jordi Artal, left his engineering career in Silicon Valley to pursue his culinary dreams in his mother’s home country. Today, the one Michelin star restaurant is still family run – he works his magic in the kitchen while his madre and hermana lead the front of the house.
Artal and his reviewers call his cuisine “new-style Catalan”. The tasting menu is based around carefully selected Catalan and Spanish products that stay true to Catalonia’s culinary traditions. Each dish features only the best ingredients plucked at their peak of freshness.
This includes line caught fish from small fishing villages across the Mediterranean, foie gras from Empordan, organic milk, cream and butter from the Pyrenes and locally sourced produce.
Each glass of wine has been carefully chosen from Spanish and Catalan boutique bodegas to support the local gastronomy and harmonize with the flavors presented in each course. The speciality dessert wine is even made in-house.
Like the name suggests, the menu at Cinc Sentits is designed to ignite all five senses. Chef Artal does this by applying contemporary techniques without being exhaustively avant-garde. He dabbles a bit in deconstructionism, but doesn’t hide the flavors behind extravagant foams and nitrogen. He lets the ingredients speak for themselves.
Much like the flavors, the formal dining room is a simple space. It is elegantly fitted with white table cloths, charcoal chairs and gold accents throughout. There is a closed kitchen and ten tables lending an ominous silence to the dining room during the early part of the evening that subtly shifts as dinner progresses and taste buds come alive.
The 4-Course Tasting Menu
We chose the 4-course tasting menu with wine pairing. This included pica picas, tapas, two starters, one main course, one dessert and final temptations. I don’t want to give away all of Artal’s secrets, so I’ve decided to share a few of the highlights.
The meal began with a nostalgic trilayer shot glass of maple syrup, chilled cream, cava sabayon and a dusting of sea salt. It tasted like perfectly melted coffee ice cream and a stack of pancakes doused in maple syrup on a lazy Sunday morning.
Razor Clam Tapa
For the tapas course, we were served three distinct plates. My favorite of the three was the razor clam served with mustard, green apple, onion and herbs. Never would I have thought to pair clams with mustard. The flavor was bright and bold without masking the clam itself.
The foie is is coated with a caramelized sugar shell and dressed with braised leeks and chives. The whole thing sits atop a thin pastry crust. Though the portion may seem small, the richness is undeniable. This is the one plate I was unable to finish.
The dessert was a play on peaches and textures. The centerpiece was a peach flan served with two warm chocolate hazelnut beignets, peach puree, honey ice cream and spiced crumbs. I don’t typically enjoy peach and chocolate together, but the combination worked flawlessly.
Cinc Sentis, Carrer d’Aribau, 58 Barcelona
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