An offshoot of the three Michelin-star restaurant El Celler de Can Roca–named the best restaurant in the world this year–Moo Roca is a creation of the Roca brothers, which focuses on the use of modernist techniques and evoking emotion through food. Located on the bottom floor of the Omm Hotel, Moo Roca has a chic, modern vibe, and serves a taste of the Roca brother’s cuisine to customers without the hassle of scoring a reservation at Can Roca.
Jesse: Walking into this restaurant I was almost immediately turned off by the generic, modern hotel restaurant vibe. It seemed as if having their parent restaurant be named the best restaurant in the world entitled the staff at Moo Roca to act like they were doing us a special favor by letting us dine there. At past restaurants in Spain, I excused the lack of friendly, personable service because of the communication barrier (although I don’t think this is an excuse for a server not to be hospitable), but here they had no excuse, as multiple of their staff spoke nearly perfect English.
Julian: We chose to sit at the counter seats, looking over the open kitchen. For lunch that same day we ate at Cal Pep, where we also sat at counter seats. There was a stark contrast between the two kitchens, to say the least! Anyway, the meal started off really well. We got three little “snacks,” all of which had awesome textural elements and unique flavors. Then we got a sheep’s milk yogurt parfait dish, which had herring caviar with lemon and fennel sauces. This was probably my favorite course of the whole night, as it was relatively simple, showed me a product I’d never experienced before (herring caviar), was grounded in something familiar, and was straight delicious. So at this point, despite the frilly ambiance, I was pumped for a great meal.
Jesse: Texturally, I think this was one of the more interesting meals we’ve had so far. One of our first dishes was an egg with a thin, hollow ball of golden sugar on top, and cereal, not unlike tiny bits of grape nuts, around it. The combination of the sugary shell that stuck in my teeth, the dry cereal crunch, and the creamy egg was a textural combination that was new to my mouth and tasted surprisingly good. Their success with textual compositions was a theme throughout the meal, but we found the next dish to be a perfect example of how some chefs use modernist techniques for the theatrical reasons rather than to add any substantial depth or flavor to a dish.
breaking into the “golden egg.” Julian’s skepticism begins to rise
Julian: That next dish was a pigeon carpaccio and it pissed me off. First, pigeon carpaccio isn’t nearly as common as beef carpaccio is for a reason–raw pigeon is not as good as super high-quality raw beef. Second, there were probably eight different sauces or garnishes on top of the carpaccio, all in such minute quantities as to render them utterly useless. That is, except for the sprout garnish, which was basically the only flavor I could taste in the whole dish. Third, they tried to add smoke to the dish by using a smoking gun to inject smoke underneath a glass lid. The servers took off the lid at the table for a theatrical effect, but trying to smoke meat that quickly has no impact on the flavor of the meat. Last, since we could see them plating the food, we noticed how ridiculously composed the dish was. It took 5 minutes for one of the cooks to tweeze every little ingredient onto the plate. I felt really bad for the cook who was assigned the dish. Such a waste of time and energy. I’d rather he spend his time building flavor, rather than making everything look oh-so-pretty. In the end, the dish didn’t even look all that good. And it tasted like a dry health food sandwich.
“smoking” the pigeon carpaccio
Jesse: Hah! I couldn’t have ranted any better myself. One last thing I have to give them credit for was their red mullet and ratatouille. Picture the best fried fish sticks you’ve had then class up the fish a bit and imagine the batter lighter, less greasy, and having the perfect crunch. Why ratatouille on the side? I’m not sure. But it did taste good. To finish off the meal we had a delicious tiramisu and a not so delicious–and poorly put together–ice cream “cigar”.
Some pigeon with our sprouts
Julian: That ice cream cigar was disgusting, actually. It literally tasted like licking an ash tray. Maybe it was that, maybe it was that carpaccio dish, maybe it was the hoity-toity vibe, maybe it was the asshole chef…but something left a bad taste in my mouth. I left the restaurant less happy than when I arrived. I felt like it was all for show. All to make money. All to add another Michelin star. I don’t know. I just got the vibe that they were totally full of themselves and inauthentic. Also they had shitty bread. Which is okay if you’re presenting yourselves as humble cooks. But if you’re acting like chef-artists, at least take the time to do the bread right. No me gusta.
lamb shoulder with yogurt cube, sweetbreads, chanterelles, thyme foam, jus, capers, and several other components…too much B.S. going on! (this is Julian writing these captions, btw…Jesse liked the food better than I did)