On our recent trip to Barcelona we booked ourselves into Manairo for a meal. This is a Michelin starred restaurant specialising in Catalan cuisine. Our schedule allowed us to reserve a table for a Monday evening sitting. We booked for 9:30 as Spanish people generally eat quite late. As we were quite hungry we arrived at the restaurant early with the intention of having a drink at the bar and giving our order promptly.
We found the place very easily as it, serendipitously, was located on the same street as our Hotel. We were the first to arrive. My hubby is one of these people who hates eating in a restaurant where there are no other customers. He is of the view that if there are no customers there must be something wrong with the food. On this occasion I didn’t have to try too hard to coax him in. ‘It’s Monday’, I reminded him. ‘People generally don’t eat out on a Monday.’ But what really swayed him was when I highlighted that we would have the undivided attention of the staff of a Michelin restaurant for the time being. There were some ‘no shows’ so it turns out that I was quite prophetic. We were the only customers.
Although Manairo has a Michelin star the staff were not a bit stuffy. And we saw all of them in the course of the evening. I suspect Jordi Herrrara himself wasn’t cooking but his underling did a damn good impression. What followed was an evening of pure culinary joy as we savoured the ‘Manairo’ tasting menu. The waiter has reasonable English and described each course as he brought it. And I typed each description into my phone in order to remember it properly. After the third course he offered to bring us a paper copy of what we were being served for the evening. And here it is :
This version of the menu was also prepared exclusively for us and it totally understates the experience. The Bread and Tomato Xoff and the Sardine pate (with tiny toast) were served on spoons which rested on metal ‘stick’ sculptures. It was an interesting method of serving and I was concerned that all the dishes might have come out this way!
I wasn’t happy when mackerel arrived as it is a fish of which I’m not particularly fond. I would never order it, buy it or accept it as a free gift from fishermen. But if someone cooks it and serves it to me I will eat it as a courtesy. This piece of mackerel was extremely fishy (in a good way) but I was wary. I ate it with some of the accompanying escalivada which is bit like the Sicilian Caponata. It really complemented the fish and improved it.
I could go on at length about the dishes that arrived. Each one surpassed the preceding one and the meal slowly built up to a climax. Indeed there were many of these! The dishes were amazing and I couldn’t choose one as a highlight. The Squid dish mentioned above is totally under described as the deep-fried rings in which one would expect to find the squid were actually filled with egg yolk.
The scallop was served with risotto which, the waiter revealed afterwards, had tripe worked through it. I’m glad he waited before telling us because the knowledge would surely have coloured our experience. The rice was absolutely amazing, not to mention the scallop.
Our night at Manairo was an evening of superlatives. I loved the whole experience and would highly recommend it as a place to treat yourself in Barcelona. We visited two Michelin star restaurants during our trip and this one won hands down.