Alkimia ★ // Barcelona // Spain

Every day in Barcelona, thousands of tourists descend upon the iconic Sagrada Familia, encircling it to create a kind of cultist mayhem. Though just a few blocks north of the adulation, the crisscross of residential streets return to their sleepy pace. And on one of those unassuming streets, you’ll find a small modern facade that conceals a neighbourhood restaurant where locals, business people and visitors seek-out the magic of modern Catalan cuisine.

Alkimia champions the flavours and produce of its region, and like many other restaurants in Catalunya, it combines them in unorthodox ways with inventive technique to create an exciting dining experience.

Just take the amuse-bouche; a crystal clear shot of tomato water, topped with a golden ring of olive oil and some crisp breadcrumbs. This refreshing drop is served with a tasty piece of Catalan sausage to recreate the typical snack of bread, topped with oil and tomato (pa amb tomàquet). By changing form and using technique, Alkimia takes a humble morsel and turns it into gastronomy.

The ravioli starter is also a fresh and innovate experiment. Soft, garlic-tinged mussels and sweet crab meat are used fill open ravioli, which happens to not be made of pasta, but blanched slices of celeriac. Wonderful dill oil is then used to replace the parsley taste that you’d expect from the bright green streaks on the plate. These flavours and textures come together magnificently.

Continuing with seafood, the sea bream could not be better filleted or more perfectly cooked. The fish is moist and flavoursome with a flamed, smoky skin, but it’s the sauce that really causes a commotion. At first tasting  like a salted caramel, which may sound like a odd accompaniment, it works to accentuate the richness of the fillet. It is infact made from a reduction of intensely sweet rancio wine, fresh hazelnuts and butter; a sensational combination. 

Dessert too shows how to elevate simple things with clever touches. Manzanilla apples are poached in cinnamon, but it’s the luxurious, almost panna cotta like mascarpone cream and the tart touches of granny smith gel that make something unique out of this dish. An old-fashioned, almost grandmother style dessert has had some bright, modern brush stokes added, which finish your meal on a high.

While Alkimia’s style might be typical of its Catalan contemporaries, its surprising, vibrant cooking make it a stand-out restaurant for vialaporte.