Bar Boulud – Busy! Buzzy! Burgers!

There have been lots of recent reviews about Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental. Most of them hightlighting just how quickly this restaurant found its feet.  Certainly on our visit, barely two weeks after opening, it was running very smoothly indeed. Especially when you consider just how busy it was.

The first thing that hits you when you sit down, is the level of service. There are a lot of staff both in the kitchen and in the dining room. It is actually quite entertaining to watch them skillfully almost dance around each other.

This is a great people watching venue. The Tables are very close together and there is an almost frantic buzz of activity and noise when the service is in full swing.

Bar Boulud menu combines French charcuterie and bistro cooking.  So to start we shared a small plate of charcuterie. The waiter made a point of explaining that all the Terrines were home made. It was certainly a good varied selection (although not the best charcuterie I have had in London,  Almeida does a really good charcuterie trolley which I thought had the edge on the Bar Boulud selection).  For the main course we tried the now famous “Frenchie” burger (a great burger almost as good as the one in Moovida – praise indeed) and a more traditional Steak frites.  The burger looked small but was perfectly cooked and actually very filling, as was the equally well cooked steak.

For dessert we choose the lightest dish on the menu, a sort of tropical fruit sundae with lovely moist coconut biscuits in it. It seemed to be the most popular dessert.

We ordered a la carte and had some expensive wines so our bill was over £100 for two people, but Bar Boulud can be more reasonable, the set menu for example is £20 for 3 courses.

My only criticism is that it was all a bit frantic…but then that’s what a busy bistro is. So do not expect a quiet lunch.

For more on Bar Boulud, see

 

 

LOCATION INFORMATION

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Moments @ MO, Barcelona – Setting the standard

At long last we managed to have lunch at Moments restaurant. The delayed opening meant we missed the chance on our last visit to Barcelona.  We were pleasantly surprised by the  interior, as the Mandarin Oriental website does not do it justice. It is a beautiful room that is both stylish and comfortable.

We were greeted by a familiar face, Carlos formerly of the Foliage in London. One of our regular haunts. He presented us with a glass each of Carme Ruscelleda’s 20th anniversary Cava.  Without hesitation we decided on the tasting menu (125 euro’s ouch!) along with a lovely selection of wines by the glass.

The meal began with the famous Appetizers Micro Menu which consisted of four appetizers one for each season. We then had a very artistic dish based on “Miros Bird” the original which we understand hangs in Carme Ruscelleda’s restaurant in Tokyo.  This was followed by a very refreshing dish of cuttlefish and peas then a very moreish crayfish dish with morel cream. Next came an unusual but successful combination of flavours. Sea Bass with strawberry chutney.  There was a choice of main courses. Tuna Cheek or Iberian Pork. The Tuna cheek in particular was stunning.  We then moved on to the cheese course and two desserts simply named “Red” and “White”. We both agreed that the Red was our favourite as this was a standout dish and not just because it used popping candy!

We finished the meal with the Eight Pastry Divertimenti. A selection of Petit-fours presented on a three tier cake stand.

After the meal we were introduced to the head chef Raul Balam (Carme Ruscelleda’s son).  It’s always nice to be able to tell the chef how much we enjoyed the meal.

The restaurant is too new to have been awarded a Michelin star or should I say stars as it will undoubtedly pick up more than one in the not too distant future, it is certainly a rival to its 3 star sister restaurant Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mer.

WARNING: Dining at Moments can seriously damage your appreciation of other restaurants. Every other restaurant, even ones you really rated start to look scruffy and unprofessional in comparison. The attention to detail at MO is second to none.

UPDATE December 2010 – Moments awarded a Michelin Star in the 2011 Michelin Guide. In my view they merit two. For more information, see :-

UPDATE November 2012 – Moments awarded their second Michelin Star. Saw that one coming!

Marks out of 10

Food 8.3

Service 8.2

Ambience 8.5

LOCATION INFORMATION
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Moo – Sensations

The Roca brothers 1 Star Michelin restaurant Moo is in the Hotel Omm. It is ideal for people with jaded palettes, as Moo is all about “sensations”.

We went for the gourmet tasting menu at 85 euros with 25 euros for matching wines.  We started with a visually stunning dish called the “golden egg” – an egg yolk in a gold caramelized shell served with what tasted like crushed cornflakes – the epitome of breakfast.  The next dish conjured up the sensation of being in a forest, this was delivered by the pigeon carpaccio with juniper ice-cream presented in a smoke filled glass cloche which when removed gave of a strong woody aroma.   After the “forest” we moved into the “orchard” – that sensation came in the form of a snow crab ravolli in a citrus sauce.

We finished on a high with the dessert, which brought back memories of being at the “Fun Fair” –  Candyfloss, toffee apples and nuts.  They used actual candyfloss (something we also had at Moo’s sister restaurant El cellar de Can Roca ) along with a beautiful “fake apple” –  a caramelized shell containing mousse. This was a really impressive dish.

The Americans at the next table were doing the usual thing of trying to get the food done their way, a real No No here. The Maitre’d handled it well, but when the food is effectively an art form you just don’t mess with it. It’s like telling Picasso to use less blue.

The dining  room is very artistic (let down only by the NCP carpark style wall, that we have mentioned in earlier posts). The plates used to present the food were unusual perhaps even unique – they included one signed by chef Ferran Adrià of El Bulli.

We returned to the Hotel Omm a few days later to eat in Moovida, where the menu is a lot more down to earth.

Marks out of 10 for Moo.

Food 7.2

Service 7

Ambience 7

LOCATION INFORMATION
Browse Google Map© :- NoExpert Food Blog – Barcelona, Spain

Bravo24 at the W – Whale watching!

Bravo24 is the signature restaurant of the W Hotel in Barcelona’s marina and has its own private lift in the reception area. We entered the lift expecting to be whisked up to the 24th floor but alas it merely took us up one level to the sun terrace.

The location (if you are having lunch on the terrace) stops this restaurant from being a “destination restaurant”. This is mainly because of its child friendly nature and the fact you are directly overlooking the sun terrace which provides a stunning view of Frank Gehry’s ‘Peix d’Or’ bronze whale sculpture and the not so stunning views of some of the W’s guests basking in the sun.

The executive chef is Carles Abellan who is also responsible for Comerc 24, our No Expert Best of the Best award winner last year, so as expected the food is off a  high standard.  However it was a slightly mixed bag with some very good high end dishes, served along side some fairly basic grills.  I especially enjoyed the Cod salad which based on the menu description was not quite as expected as it was very refined indeed.  For our main course we went for the Veal, it was served with some lovely mash but alas as I’m not a huge fan of eating fat (I know some people like this sort of thing) I wasn’t able to clean my plate.

I would imagine that the atmosphere in the evening is very different, making this a more suitable fine dining experience, than our casual lunch.

However despite this criticism, we would say that Bravo 24 is a good place for lunch, especially if you are in the area and want to check out the W or relax in the foyer bar. However you will need to be aware of the damage it will do to your wallet.  Our lunch for example consisted of 3 courses and 3 glasses of wine at approx 70 euros per person.

Marks out of 10

Food 6.2

Service 6

Ambience 6

LOCATION INFORMATION
Browse Google Map© :- NoExpert Food Blog – Barcelona, Spain

Athenaeum – Evergreen

Had Afternoon Tea at The Athenaeum – they’re celebrating the first anniversary of the hotel’s living wall – a vertical garden. At £27.50 for Afternoon Tea and a glass of Kir Royal (if booked via toptable), this is a lot cheaper than the fabulous Pret a Portea at The Berkeley my favorite afternoon tea venue. To be honest though I have to say that the Athenaeums Afternoon Tea it is not in the same league as the Pret a Portea.  However it is still a better than average venue to experience a typical English Afternoon Tea.

Included in the Afternoon Tea is your choice of teas, 2 rounds of sandwiches, 2 small scones, 3 items from the cake trolley and just when you think it is all over, Crumpets or Tea cakes.  Rather strangely we had lots of jam for the Crumpets and Tea cakes, when we did not need it, and not enough for the scones. You may also find  if you like stronger tea, that you need to ask for it, as the tea can be quite weak.

 

LOCATION INFORMATION

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