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reviewed by David Hay
Thorn Park by the Vines

08003 Ciutat Vella,
telephone +34 93 319 21 02
email info@comerc24.com
web www.comerc24.com reservations can be made on their web site
open Tuesday to Saturday 1.30 pm til 3.30 pm and 8.30 pm til 11.00 pm

FOOD on our second to last night I decided we had been such good chappies and lived within our somewhat elastic budget and as Barcelona is very cheap by European standards we deserved to try a ‘good’ restaurant. I had a note about Comerç,24 and also a few guide books gave it the thumbs up, but nothing really gave the impression that it had a real WOW factor. So we donned ironed clothes (no mean feat, given that the flat had a Mickey Mouse iron and a Mini Mouse ironing board) and headed for number 24 Comerc Street Barcelona.

We got in for a 10.00 pm table, suited us as that has been our preferred time of dining for some time now (yes me who always does the 9.30 fade…) and turned up to a sort of hip, slightly industrial deep brown/grey interior with STYLE. The place flows around a bar; kitchen which you can see into and then another large room where we were seated at a very nice table with great linen and napery (greeny/grey and heavy weight). We ascertained that they do so a set menu (A la Carte is also a goer), either a 7 or 12 course option, being restrained (yes I can do it) we opted for the seven which really meant we had 16 dishes…! They also do a sort of wine by the glass, silly wine boy thought four would be suitable, himself just looked at him, so we had seven or was it eight, different wines.

“Ok”, I said “just go for it!” So, with no menu they started us off with four appetizers…No1 a mini cup of cauliflower broth flavoured with smoked tea and Nori, with tiny florets of cauliflower marinated in rice vinegar and ginger…No2 was carpaccio of monkfish with black sesame and black garlic…No 3 was a fried tube of filo (think mini cannelloni) filled with a crème of parmesan, basil and lemon and to finish of the FIRST course was Pizza 24, a tiny pizza with fresh fig, goats cheese and other goodies. I was won over…we had by then drunk a glass of Privat Nu 2009 Cava (organic, no sulfates).

They did ask us about dietary issues, and with encouragement the lad decided to go with the flow, but course two did give him a mille second of stress! Tiny raw sardines, wrapped around a tiny salad of orange with flashes of wasabi, with a side serve of Tuna Tartare with salmon roe…the salmon was a triumph, and I helped him out with one of the sardines (I loved them). The chosen wine, a red wine, Clos Lojen 2010 Manchuela which the wine waiter described as fresh and ‘electric’. It worked a treat, with or without the current! Following up came a small plate with a tiny bowl built into it (it was quite nice as all the ‘plates’ where small, a bit of a change from the big is better trend that has been happening over the past years). It the bowl where six small egg yolk type rounds, two each of parmesan, truffle and egg, over which they pour hot consommé and as you put each one in your mouth it explodes with the luscious individual taste of each filling mingling with the broth. The wine match, a white, Tomada Do Sapo 2007 Rias Baixas, a very dry, almost sherry like and perfect with the dish.

The second dish to cause a little stress on the other side of the table was the Cod with Romescu sauce and lily flower with a side serve of Duck flavoured rice and a bit of foie gras; the lad did not like the texture of the cod, but vacuumed down the rest and the Masia Carreras 2009 Emporda helped him get over it. A big smile on his face for the next dish…Hake with Mediterranean vinaigrette, with a tiny pile of the much loved potatoes hiding underneath.

We are moving along, Ox Sirloin, with tiny turnip cube and slices of raw salsify and a rich jus was matched with at big Antonino Izquierdo 2007 Riebra de Duero (you just have to love the names of these wines, just roll of the tip of your tongue, as if!). Then came a nice little plate of cheeses, which I am sure where wonderful but I forgot to take notes. Things also got a tiny bit confused in the kitchen or with the service as a delightful plate of Petit fours popped onto the table, and like the cheese had an extended lapse of concentration, probably because they were so edible…!

…but I recovered when the kitchen got back on line and out came dessert, or should a say desserts. A little Napolitano cake (or slice) with wild strawberries, a macerated cherry dish with lemon iced tea, a little apple number with saffron crème mousse and a very curious dish called Conguitos C24, presented in a mini milk bottle like we used to get our school milk in, it was savoury/sweet and had cheese and other goodies set in a cultured Yogurty/crème Fraiche mixture and was ‘caped’ with its own little foil cap (just like the school milk). To help all that go down we had not one, but two glasses. A Rasim Blanc DO Costers del Segre and a Carratel, vi de Licor DO Montsant, both nice but I am not sure what was, what (it was 1.15am by this time and he on the other side of the table was of no use) but one was sort of like a French Sauternes and the other a bit spirit like a gentle grapa, but at this stage of the meal who cared!

The food, the service and the surrounds are perfect and now I need to tell you that after the meal I discovered that Carles Abellan (owner & chef) worked with, and trained with, Ferran Adria of the now sadly now closed El Bulli (I did try to get us in), so I guess we got as close as we could. Comerç,24 has one Michelin star and should have two, judged by our now fairly limited experience in Michelin starred dining. It was a fantastic surprise all round. I assumed we would be having a good dinner, but it was way above every expectation and to be true, was well up there with our Fat Duck experience and at a fraction of the cost.

Author’s note — Our last night was also an experience, our waiters at the much visited Bar Lobo told us to try Cuines Santa Caterina. Situated in the Mercat (market) Santa Caterina, a city market set in an amazingly contemporary building with an undulating multi coloured tile roof structure. It has the feel of a warehouse (which it sort of is) and offers different products and different cuisine types with different cooking times which more or less means you get your food when it’s cooked. He was in seventh heaven with the slow cooked lamb and potatoes and I loved the Catalan Sausages with baby white beans and foie gras, followed by…,…oh just save us from ourselves!

Well this week in Paris we have Molecular cooking schools, lunch at Jules Vern at the Eiffel tower and to finish, Jan’s birthday dinner at Paris’s 3 star la Cinq Restaurant at Hotel George Fifth, the dinner suits will get their second airing… Much love from us!

to read more recommendations for Barcelona’s famous market CLICK HERE and scroll down. These recommendations kindly given to us by Ferran Adrià when Marian Clarkin interviewed him for Galaxy Guides have been used and enjoyed by many people. Expect some challenges and expect some traditions!

In our August 2011 what’s hot David Hay reviewed The Fat Duck CLICK HERE to read this marvellous romp of a review!

above…the author David Hay
whom…it must be said is no slouch himself when it comes to cooking!

postcard from Barcelona
photography Mark Doyle

The Barcelona markets
from the top…an astounding array of cured meats…women selling seafood…snails another popular market tapas…the offal hall (and plenty of great offal snacks to be had everywhere)…photographer Mark Doyle

the people behind Galaxy Guidesfood editor and publisher
Ann Oliver

champagne editor
Kaaren Palmer


Jan Bowman
Political comentator, briliant photographer…farmers’s market obsessed…Brisbane based.

Olivia Stratton Makris
Masters of Gastronomy, NYC, Spain and constant assistance and editorial suggestion…Adelaide based.

Michael Martin…Northern America 2016.Photographic assistance Kym Martin…Adelaide based.

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copyright © text, recipes and images Ann Oliver & Kaaren Palmer 2016.