Comerc, 24 is a Michelin-star restaurant in the El Born neighborhood of Barcelona. The restaurant is “in essence a tapas bar with the conveniences and service of a classic restaurant, featuring a cosmopolitan ambiance.” In other words, it is designed to serve a chef’s tasting menu.
Julian: Catalonia is the home of the avant-garde culinary movement. Located 100 miles north was el Bulli, whose influence has spread far and wide, but especially in this area. There is also El Celler de Can Roca, which is currently the world’s top restaurant, just an hour north. So part of experiencing a true Catalan culinary experience had to involve eating at one of these modernist kinds of restaurants.
Jesse: Comerc 24 had an interesting vibe. The walls were bare besides for a couple of giant murals. One which was an entire wall mural of the Grand Canyon. The lights hanging from the ceiling were chandeliers of drum cymbals that gently reflected light around the dining area, and in the background, classic American rock, jazz, and bossanova played (not sure what they were going for). I didn’t get the feeling of being at a tapas bar at all here.
Julian: Definitely not. But it was interesting nonetheless. The restaurant offers a tasting menu and an a la carte menu. Our request of getting two different tasting menus between the two of us (so we could try as many dishes as possible) was rejected. I mitigated this problem by suddenly developing a seafood allergy. By doing this, we got to try about 30 different dishes at the restaurant, which was pretty sweet.
eating truffle soup out of rocks.
Jesse: Haha, yeah it was good tactic for getting to experience more of the food. The food was different from most of the higher end places we’d been to. Instead of focusing on combinations of subtle flavors to create sophisticated dishes that had depth, they would focus more on one flavor and go all out with it. We actually ended up eating 3 different summer truffle based dishes, which were pretty much just blasts of truffle flavor through different mediums. The food was yummy, but somewhat one-dimensional.
Julian: And those truffle dishes were all back-to-back-to back. I never thought I’d say it, but too much truffle! The whole experience was a stark contrast to the Chez Panisse philosophy of serving simple, unadulterated food. They also weren’t really focusing on any specific cuisine. They were using some Asian flavors, some traditional Catalan recipes, some French techniques, and throwing modernist innovations in here and there. Kind of made us scratch our heads as to what their actual concept was.
Jesse: The staff did not seem very knowledgeable about the food–as far as ingredients and what went into cooking the dishes–but they were very involved in our meal. Almost every dish was brought to the table on a tray and either had to be cut, poured over, or doctored up in some fashion before we ate it. Like we experienced at Mugaritz, we were barraged with desserts at the end of the meal.
Julian: All in all, it was a pretty good meal. But nothing really stands out to me. Maybe other than the fact that they had the balls to serve three straight truffle dishes. I’m worried that I’ve become quite the hard-to-please food snob.
fish on a slab…they were really into serving food on rocks