Barcelona: Comerç 24

Elisa:

Located in the El Born district of Barcelona, Comerç 24 is one of the city’s most forward-thinking restaurants that feature traditional Catalan and Spanish cuisine with a liberal dose of fashionable molecular gastronomy. While it bills itself as a tapas restaurant, its dishes certainly don’t resemble the traditional tapas fare and I would rather call it a more luxurious form of tapas, which is not surprisingly given that Chef Carles Abellan was a pupil of Ferran Adria.
Amidst the darkness and closed shops along the street is a glowing bright yellow banner of Comerç 24 that beckons you right in. The interior is dimly lit, and grey walls and yellow accents call for a rather industrial feel (because the building was originally used for salting and selling of pickled and preserved goods). An open kitchen on one side of the room allowed one to sense the immaculate precision inside.
There was the a la carte menu and two tasting menus to chose from – 7 course Festival menu (92€) and 12 course Grand Festival menu (116€) – which I felt would be more worth it than jus the individual a la carte dishes because you get to taste all their specialties, plus the Chef’s secret creations of the day. And of course because Comerç 24 focuses on fresh local produce, the tasting menus differs slightly everyday. At the end of the meal, you will get your very own small little menu with the date stamped.
We opted for the Festival menu, and started off the meal with a few amuse bouches.
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Smoky “TROMPETTA de la Muerte” Infusion. From what I have researched, Trompetta de la muerte (also known as black chanterelle, black trumpet, or even trumpet of the dead, but scientifically known as Craterellus cornucopioides), is a type of edible mushroom that grows mainly under beech, oak or other broad-leaved trees in the woods of North America, Europe, Japan and Korea. The mushroom is usually almost black, blending in with the leaf litter on the forest floor and hunters say they resemble black holes in the ground. And while they look rather unattractive, they have a very strong earthy flavor which was what I definitely got from this small cup of infusion. The smoky flavor hits you straight in the nose when served, but it just not stop just there as the taste definitely lingers in your mouth after every spoonful.
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CAULIFLOWER with rice Vinegar and Ginger was meant to be a palate cleanser before the next dish.
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MONKFISH with Black Sesame and Black Garlic. I’m not a fan of monkfish because it’s usually fishy and just slightly too tough to bite. But this seared monkfish, still rare and translucent at the centre, was totally unexpectedly silky and soft like that of a sashimi/carpiccio. The pungent black garlic and nutty, savoury sesame helped accentuate its salty and briny taste.
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PHILLO Cannelloni with parmesan, LEMON and basil. We were instructed to have the basil leaf last. The phillo cigars were remarkably thin, crunchy and not at all crumbly. The parmesan filling was creamy, yet light at the same time. And I thought that the basil at the end gave a strong aroma and finishing taste that helped reminded diners that this was actually a savoury dish, despite the slightly sweet and light filling.
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PIZZA 24 had a thin crunchy base topped with briny anchovy, creamy mozzarella, sweet cherry tomatoes and the tinniest strawberries  i’v ever seen and a handful of bitter arugula. I felt that there was a little too much going on in this tiny little pizza. Just a little too many ingredients and competing flavours that you’re not actually able to savour the freshness of each component.
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CEVICHE sponge. I don’t quite know what this actually was. Tasted like raw white fungus too me that was unexpectedly sweet.
20140227-233423.jpg20140227-233459.jpg A basket of thick crusty bread and a selection of priced Spanish olive oils and salt were then brought to our table. As the server poured the different types of olive oil into four different dishes, he explained them one by one from right to left: spicy, sweet, fruity, bitter. The difference in taste was so subtle that it took my quite a few dippings before I could really discern the flavours and finally deciding that the fruity was my favourite.
20140227-233435.jpg SARDINE with Orange, Wasabi and “Carquinyolis”. Not a fan of sardines usually, but the fresh orange segments helped cut the fishiness and salty sardines. The crunchy Carquinyolis (the Catalan biscotti) crumbs on the side added a textural contrast while the micro greens added a touch of freshness to the dish.
20140227-233447.jpg Tuna TARTARE was unfortunately not particularly impressive. This fresh raw tuna, lightly marinated in soy sauce and topped with salmon roe, tasted just as good as any great tuna tartares out there. The raw egg yolk which you usually see with a beef tartare didn’t do much to elevate this dish either..
20140227-233512.jpg CONSOMME with Egg, Parmesan cheese and Truffle. This soup was like a work of art. 3 different coloured spheres, yellow for egg, white for parmesan and brown for truffle, were arranged beautifully into a colourful pyramid. The waiter then poured a warm and wonderfully scented black truffle consommé that caused the spheres too float around. Popping each sphere into your mouth each time results in a burst of intense flavor. I had expected the parmesan cheese to be really salty, but it was just savoury enough. While the conosomme had a deep depth of flavour and umami-ness, I would have to say that it was a little heavily seasoned, given the fact that the parmesan sphere was salty on its own already.
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CODFISH with Chard, Chickpeas and Miso. I really love cod, especially when its cooked so perfectly just as this. It had a slight bite on the outside, but it was still rare and silky on the inside that it just melts in your mouth.

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Pure Iberian “cochinillo” HANOI. You know you’ll get the best suckling pig when in Spain. Crispy crackly skin, followed by a layer of fat that is juicy and slightly sweet, a top moist and tender meat that tears off so easily. It’s really the perfect bite altogether. And you really don’t need any sauce to go along with it because the skin and fat provides just so much flavour. And such a thin piece of the suckling pig is really enough to blow you off your feet. What also came along with this dish was also a bowl of hot olive oil with rosemary and thyme, and you can really tell that they pay attention to engaging all your 5 senses. We were instructed to smell the flavours of the fresh herbs first before devouring the star of the show.
20140227-233718.jpg GLAZED Veal cheek. Another delicious dish. I could imagine this simmering in a potful of vegetables and gravy, allowing it to soak up all that intense flavor and resulting in it being extremely tender that it tears off so easily as well with the slightest push and pull of the fork.
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Lemon ICED TEA was actually a lemon sponge cake, lemon mousse, lemon sorbet, caramelized tuielle, and a sweet broth. Refreshing and light, it was like a palate cleanser between the savoury and sweet courses.
20140227-233558.jpgStarting from the Recuit “NAPOLITA” on the top left, I can’t remember exactly what this is but I rembered that it was my least favourite dessert. I think it was some kind of bland strawberry mousse at the bottom topped with cottage cheese that was neither cold nor really creamy, that’s why I think I didn’t like it. Moving on in the anti-clockwise direction is the APPLE/SAFFRON. The sweet mushy apples beneath the crunchy coffee crumble paired well together and the creamy saffron gelato provided quite a perfect balance in flavour with its slight savoury note to. At the bottom right is the NOUGAT, Chocolate & COFFEE. So inside this chocolate bar is a chocolate and almond cream, and on top of it is caramelised almonds, salted caramel and a coffee cigar. Lovely balance of crunchy and creamy! And last but not least my favourite dessert of the night, CONGUITOS C24. It was actually a brownie topped with peanut butter and caramelized tuielle, and finished off with a chocolate peanut butter sphere that bursts right in your mouth. You have to take it all in one bite if not the peanut butter filling will splurt right out and you definitely wouldn’t want to waste all that goodness.
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The petit fours were equally exceptional. Starting with the OREO Vanilla and Black Sesame, it is actually basically a black sesame oreo ice cream sandwich. And of course what can you not love about an ice cream sandwich! The WILD Pine are just a handful of caramelized almonds, while the GOLD BAR was just a chocolate bar with a crunchy cookie bottom coated with quite unnecessary gold. Lastly the Matcha TABLET is a green tea white chocolate bar that had such a potent green tea flavor.
And at the end of it all, we were all stuffed.
With attentive service and perfect pace and delivery of dishes, dining at Comerç, 24 is definitely a one of a kind experience. With molecular gastronomy, you will be surprised and challenged by almost every playful and creative dish. However, I do have to say that when it is good, it is very good. But when it doesn’t work, it feels like an affectation. Overall, this meal was truly memorable. We started off strong with the amuse bouche, and the ingenious desserts and petite fours finished it off with aplomb.
 Comerc 24
Carrer del Comerç, 24
08003 Barcelona, Ciutat Vella
Tel: 93 319 21 02
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This entry was posted in Barcelona, Dessert, Dinner, Spanish, Travel to eat! :), Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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