Barcelona Eats: Con Gracia

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Like many European cities, eating out in Barcelona can be shockingly expensive. (Remember our sangria goof up mentioned here?) My husband and I tend to eat mostly local cheap eats but splurge on one fine dining meal when we travel.

For this trip, we dined at a nice restaurant called Con Gracia, which received great reviews from TripAdvisor (I always use this invaluable resource when I plan a trip).

Con Gracia features only two menus per night. You can choose the traditional 5 course meal, in which you know ahead of time all the courses you will be eating. For the adventuresome,  there is the chef menu which offers 5 surprise courses.

We decided on the chef menu with wine pairing and couldn’t have been more pleased. I was a little worried there would be bizarre food items for dinner. I imagined all variations of sheep brains, eyes, and strange tentacles of some sort but to my delight, the chef menu was very eatable and not scary at all!

Here is a run down of our courses:

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Tomato consomme

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traditional and green herbal olive oils for dipping and spice mixture for bread. The spice mixture was made of coriander, almonds, salt, cumin, and red pepper. The server actually only told us 3 of the ingredients and it was a fun game to guess the others.

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Okay, this course was a tiny bit scary. This is black pudding, which are crispy croquettes made from blood. Eating it, I didn’t know exactly what it was, but I suspected it was something like that. A quick internet search later confirmed it.

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White miso soup with pieces of foie gras

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My favorite course of the night, roasted hake

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beef with spiced apple sauce

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Sichuan button

The course above was something different I’ve never experienced before. The glasses are filled with lemon granita, which in itself is not that revolutionary.

But do you see the small yellow flower bud behind them?

That is something called a “Sichuan button.” It contains a chemical that sort of electrocutes your mouth.

Here’s  what we were instructed to do: put the bud between our teeth for several seconds, then put it inside the lower lid, swirl it around the mouth, and then finally eat it.

The effect was numbing, cooling,  and enhancing at the same time when eaten with the lemon granita. Apparently, this technique has had a run in culinary circles according to this Salon article.

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Green tea flavored creme brulee

In case you’re wondering, it was possible to designate certain foods that were off limits in case you have dietary restrictions.

A pregnant woman nearby went through an exhaustive list of foods she could not eat because of her pregnancy and then another exhaustive list of foods she simply disliked. (really? and she wanted the surprise chef’s menu too)

The men who run the restaurant were extremely patient and accommodating overall and there was flexibility in the menu. If you are also worried about your Spanish speaking skills, don’t mind that. They were perfectly happy to speak English as well.

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Con Gracia is a tiny restaurant which serves only about 20 people per night. For that reason, it’s important to make a reservation well in advance through their website.

When you travel, do you splurge on a fine meal or do you tend to eat the local cheap eats? How do you feel about surprise menus? 

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