Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ohla Hotel GastroBar in Barcelona gets big bravos (8-21-13)

On arriving in Barcelona we headed to the OHLA Hotel where I had a site inspection and followed it up with a spectacular tapas lunch in the Ohla GastroBar(, a refined hotel establishment in a sunken room below street level so you can observe what's up on the busy pedestrian walk outside. There are wooden tables, black chairs and an open tapas/bar on the inside should you wish to sit with others perhaps when alone.
Francesc, the manager was a gem and we told him our likes and dislikes and he suggested away. Will had a local Estrella Damm beer, which he has become fond of and I went right for the famous local white varietal Xarel-lo, here a 2012 vintage from Viladellops in Catalunya, but specifically from the D.O.Penedes region I love so much.
We also ordered bottled sparkling water and I had forgotten that the local favorite, Vichy Catalan, is intensely salty, so from here on in we searched for other options when available. "SUKE" Salmon was a marinated salmon in ginger and citrus that was a divine start, this followed by the voluptuous EGGS poached at 62degreesC and marinated potatoes with Iberian chorizo. We were in heaven again, and Will finally understood why I love Barcelona and its food so much.
Samuel enjoyed the small tasty Croquetas de Jamon Iberico, but went wild for his Meat CANNELLONI with Truffle Butter; he only did not care for the crispy parmesan chips with the dish (they were great). It was rich and he now declares he can eat anything with truffles.
RAZOR CLAMS Marinara are the long narrow clams that are so famous here and actually a bit chewier than the small ones we get. These were tender and tasty in a great sauce. Red PIQUILLO PEPPERS from Santurce were sublime, but the White BEANS from SANTA PAU (Judias de Santa Pau alinadas) was one of the best bean dishes ever on earth.
STEAK TARTARE here is not to be missed as it is perfectly prepared and served with a cold sweet mustard ice cream which is a brilliant fit for the dish.
An extra dish we had not asked for arrived from Francesc and we loved the teeny weeny MEJILLONES a la Brasa or mussels which were delicious but sadly overpowered by the intense tomato, fried garlic and crunchy onion topping.
I moved on to a glass of MARMELLANS red made from Samso (a grape we discovered is only grown in the Catalunya region), tempranillo and granache(garnatxa) which comes from Cellar Capcens in the D.O. Montsant. It was excellent with our last dish which was so rich we could not finish it. LAMB's NECK FILLET is really a confit preparation and has some greens on top to cut the richness, but be sure to order less and save it for last lest you be overwhelmed as we were.
Samuel insisted on the GIANDUJA COULANT with Passion Fruit Toffee; he has become an expert on this fondant oozy delight and we tasted a bit as well as it was indeed superb.
What was great about OHLA is that they also have the 1 Michelin star restaurant SAUC (pronounced Sah-ooc), meaning sauce, which we had already planned to return to for dinner later in the week! We couldn't wait.