Restaurante Sant Pau (CERRADO): Sooo much better than El Celler de Can Roca!


As I had been to El Celler de Can Roca (my review is also on this site) the day before Sant Pau I was prepared to be disappointed. However, I was pleasantly surprised! My meal here ranks among the three best I've ever had (the two others being Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, London, and AOC in Copenhagen)!

Some details:

* The restaurant was absolutely beautiful.

* All the dishes looked beautiful.

* Head chef Carme Ruscalleda came out to speak to all the guests.

* I've been to four restaurants with absolutely perfect service in my life: Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, London, Daniel in New York, Pierre Gagnaire in Paris and Sant Pau.
Everything was done quickly, efficiently and friendly. They asked about my opinion after each dish, and they seemed genuinely interested. At El Celler de Can Roca it seemed like they stopped asking after I mentioned a dish lacked flavour for the first time. The entire meal here (14 dishes + petit fours) took me slightly less than three hours whereas the dinner at El Celler de Can Roca (six small appetizers, 11 dishes + petit fours) took four and a half hours.

The best food:
* CD "Sea and land". This dish was an exercise in near perfection! It looked a little bit like a CD and was absolutely beautiful and absolutely wonderful. My only tiny little complaint is that the whole tomato barely had any flavour (which I told them), but the grated tomato on there was great. The prawns were wonderful, and the puree of olives, and slightly spicy carrots that were made to look like those vegetables were perfectly rounded, the olive not being overly salty at all. The CD itself was a brown layer on top of a layer of basil pesto, which was a perfect match. I'll be thinking about this dish for a long time to come.

* Tomato soup with sardines. In general, I'm not keen on sardines, as they are always extremely salty. Not here. I've always found cucumber to be terribly uninteresting, but these cucumber rolls were surprisingly tasty, and the entire dish was wonderfully refreshing.

* The crayfish tails were the best I've had. Often, they are dry and dull. Here they were succulent and flavourful. The greens and the sauce were a great match.

* Sepia with two-coloured potatoes. Although this was not my favourite dish of the night, they definitely knew how to make a fish soup/sauce. Perfectly balanced and not overly fishy (unlike at El Celler de Can Roca).

*Pork with beans in tempura. I've never had pork this rare before. When pork (or beef) is very rare it's usually chewy, but this was incredibly tender. I would have liked a bit more of the green sauce, but that's all.

* Dessert of a "sheet" of coconut that covered passion fruit, incredibly sweet and just perfect mango + a bit of cayenne pepper. The cayenne gave a really nice touch, and the amount was absolutely perfect.

* Dessert with white chocolate and yoghurt. The ice cream and foam was magically floating at the top (although by eating it, I discovered what the trick was), and that layer was more interesting than the layer with rice beneath, but it was nevertheless a really nice dessert. The crystallised olive oil on the top was a pleasant addition.

* Golf: A golf ball was laid above a piece of soil, complete with worms and grass, served on a plate with a picture of a piece of soil and grass. It was actually a ball of white chocolate filled with strawberry ice cream and rosemary ice cream above a chocolate sponge cake pierced by crispy cake slivers, topped by pistachio cream. Very inventive, amusing and good flavours. The cake also had nice, intense flavour (which chocolate desserts always should have). My only problem was that the chocolate of the golf ball was simply too thick, so when I finally cracked it, I smashed the entire lower half of it, sending the ice cream flying. Unfortunately, the ice cream was completely melted inside, but nevertheless had really nice flavour (so, thinner chocolate and shorter defrosting time next time).

* The petit fours: The only ones that I didn't find that interesting were the rum financier, which lacked flavour, and the marzipan with coffee, as I don't like coffee (except for a little amount in chocolate cakes). The rest were great, my favourite being the raspberry crumble, the jelly with wild strawberries and parsley, or the cherry popsicle. Amusingly, it was served in a train carriage.

* The not completely perfect things:

* The John Dory was a little bit dry, and the marinated tomatoes on that dish had a good marinade, but not so flavourful tomatoes. The tomato "stick" on there was, however, wonderful. A thinner slice of fish might have been easier to cook. At least, it wasn't dry last time I cooked a small John Dory.

* The cheese serving was a cows cheese with apples in various ways. As I told them, apples from southern Europe or Brazil (Golden Delicious, Gala, etc.) simply don't have much flavour, and the cheese drowned out any apple flavour. I found the same problem at Pierre Gagnaire's restaurant. When they asked, I recommended them some Danish apples (scientists say Denmark and Norway have the best climate in the world for growing apples), and I think they simply had never tried Scandinavian apples. In Denmark, where I'm from, we also grow tomatoes, but the experts say that Danish tomatoes can never compete with Italian tomatoes, so if you want the best flavour, there are just some things you have to import. Some people also criticize Noma in Copenhagen for this, as they ONLY want to use Scandinavian ingredients.

* The transparent cube (an extra dessert I ordered) looked astonishing, but lacked flavour. The berries in there were very nice, but that was more or less it.

Summary:

* Value for money: It's definitely an expensive place at €146 for a 12 course menu (+ €12 for the two extra desserts I ordered) + wine. I had expected to get some appetizers, but oddly they didn't serve anything that wasn't printed on the menu. It's difficult to say if the food was so much better than at some one-star restaurants I've been to, but everything was top quality and the service flawless + you don't get 12 courses in restaurants where you pay €50-€70 + wine. Another thing I liked, was that when I was leaving they gave me a book, in English even, about the chef with recipes and so on that she had signed with a personal greeting.

* I remember the flavours at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant being a little bit more intense, but as I had that meal several years ago, it's difficult to say if I would prefer his meal to Sant Pau's if I had it today + at Ramsay it was only three course, so there was less to screw up. I have heard that his restaurant has been in steady decline, and I was there before it got really bad. In any case, I was thoroughly impressed at Sant Pau.
As there were a few misses, I suppose I would have given a 9.5 or 9.0 if it was possible, but nevertheless they deserve all the praise they can get.

* One note: I've always found the category "servicio del vino" very strange. Does this mean how they serve the wine? For this review, my rating go for the service itself, not how they serve the wine.

  • Golf (dessert): Chocolate cake, pistacio creme, golfball with strawberry and rosemary ice cream

  • Transparent cube (dessert)

  • CD "Sea and land"

Recomendado por 2 usuarios
  1. #2

    oscar4435

    Yo he tenido la fortuna de comer en este restaurante , y le dire que es uno de los mejores de españa , junto a can roca , un saludo

  2. #3

    Pibe2000es

    el servicio de vino se refiere a todo lo relacionado con el vino en el restaurante: extensión de la carta, variedad, precios, tipos de copas, presentación de las botellas, ritual de servicio: muestra de la etiqueta, apertura, corcho, prueba y relleno de copas. Atención del sommellier, recomendaciones, etc.

    En mi opinión (se puede leer mi crítica, de hace un par de años) es el aspecto a mejorar de un restaurante sobresaliente. Materia prima, elaboraciones, presentaciones, sabores... sencillamente excelentes. Pero el Servicio de Vino, francamente decepcionante: el precio de los vinos es abusivo, no es una carta muy extensa y... ya he contado mis problemillas con el somelier.

  3. #4

    Farmonton

    Antes que nada por respeto a la mayoria de usuarios podría haber escrito el articulo en castellano (no se ingles) yo soy catalan y no escribo aqui en mi idioma por respeto, Puntuar con un 10 al Sant Pau i con un 5 al Celler de Can Roca me parece que algo no es normal, cada uno tendrá sus gustos, pero por favor seamos mas serios.

  4. #5

    EuSaenz

    en respuesta a Farmonton
    Ver mensaje de Farmonton

    Totalmente de acuerdo. Si quiere escribir en inglés hay muchas otras páginas para hacerlo. Pero bueno, es simplemente mi opinión, yo no leo ningún mensaje que no esté escrito en castellano.

    Saludos,
    Eugenio.

  5. #6

    Anders.Pedersen

    Mi español is muy malo. No escribo in Español, porque Español is muy deficil para me y uso mucho tiempo para escribir en Español (y me Español es muy malo).

    "Puntuar con un 10 al Sant Pau i con un 5 al Celler de Can Roca me parece que algo no es normal. Pero por favor seamos mas serios"?
    Whatever.

    I'm sorry to hear you weren't happy with the service of the wine, Pibe2000es. I couldn't really say, as I'm not a big wine drinker at all. I just asked for a number of glasses and explained what types of wine I liked. I can't say if the prices for the wine were outrages, as I hadn't heard of any of the wines I had. I hear that Arzak charge €50 for a bottle that will cost €20 in all other restaurants, but I haven't been to Arzak yet. I hear that the price of wine in El Celler de Can Roca is very reasonable.

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