A few days ago the first edition of the Restaurant with Essence Awards was held, convened by American Express Spain, with the aim of recognizing restaurants in Madrid and Barcelona with a sustainable or innovative proposal.
With the aim of positioning itself in the sector as a benchmark in the world of gastronomy, the awards have highlighted in its first edition small and medium-sized establishments in the province of Barcelona that stand out in two specific areas, innovation and sustainability, as well as in two subcategories depending on the average price per diner.
In the words of Julia López, vice president and general manager of the Establishments area of American Express in Spain, "these awards are born with the vocation of showing, once again, the support of American Express to a key sector of our economy, such as catering. But, this time, focusing on a group of vital importance: that of small and medium restaurants that populate the streets of all the towns of our country. "
Chaired by the renowned chef Dani García, the jury of gastronomic experts included the gastronomic influencer and food stylist Laura López and the writer and professor of the Basque Culinary Center Xabier Gutiérrez, who recognized in Barcelona La Estrella 1924 and El Cel de les Oques in the category of Sustainable Essence, and Disfrutar and Aalta Botica in the Innovative Essence category.
Describing the categories a little more, the restaurant with Innovative Essence is designed to recognize those establishments with a different and unique proposal, both in their gastronomic offer and in the staging and its decorative elements; the use of cutting-edge technology in their processes, or the opening of new business channels. Therefore, as they point out in American Express, "the winner of the award within the range of restaurants with an average cover of more than € 50 per diner has been Disfrutar, one of the great references of avant-garde cuisine in the city of Barcelona and the perfect balance between technique and concept". On the other hand, in the section of the most innovative restaurant with an average cover of less than € 50, the prize has gone to Aalta Botica. For its part, the category of restaurant with Sustainable Essence is rewarded, as explained by American Express "to those who make a firm commitment to healthy eating, natural and proximity products, which carry out energy efficiency policies or the effective management of resources and waste, among other criteria". The winner in this section has been the restaurant La Estrella 1924, with an average cover of more than € 50, while the winner with an average covered of less than € 50 has been El Cel de les Oques. We visited the recognized establishments in the Catalan province.
Chef Keco Martínez-Anglés and sommelier Imma Puigmitjà, from El Cel de les Oque
THE CEL DE LES OQUES
Located in the old town of the municipality of Terrassa, this dining room is characterized by offering a very well prepared modern and market cuisine, using high quality products and always seasonal. It achieves a perfect fusion between Catalan and Mediterranean cuisine, with which it has managed to earn the respect of its customers since 2006, the year in which it opened its doors with chef Keco Martínez-Anglés and his wife Imma Puigmitjà, sommelier and head waiter. They offer a daily lunch menu, a tasting menu and a special menu accompanied by an excellent and interesting wine list of both national and international wines, which Inma Puigmitjà, professional sommelier explains with devotion to each of her clients.
As a curious fact, this restaurant belongs to several interesting associations such as the Marca Cuina Catalana project, the Associació Celíacs de Catalunya, Jazz Terrassa or Terrassa Gastronòmica, which promote its commitment to the quality of its products, with catering services and with the environment, among other values.
Where: Carrer de la Palla, 15, Terrassa, Barcelona. Tel. 93 733 82 07. Price: Less than 50 €. Hours: from 13 hours to 24.
Facade of La estrella 1924.
THE STAR 1924
With almost a century of success under its belt, since it opened its doors on April 17, 1924, this establishment in Barcelona maintains its gastronomic essence intact four generations later. As explained by its current owners Jordi, Pepi and Pau, "we try to do the same, but changing the way of seeing and doing, but always with the same spirit, so that our customers leave satisfied with what they have eaten and drunk, and of course think about returning". The family bets on the local products of other families in the area, so they always have "fresh boat products, from what the fishing day has produced, from the garden season, or craft beers from tiny companies and wines from lost wineries".
In its menu there is no shortage of seasonal specialties following the recipes made by the grandmother, combining these usual dishes with other proposals that, of recommendations, have been permanently installed in the menu. "The creation of the dishes is based on what we find in the markets that day," they reveal, and among the most demanded dishes are artichokes stuffed with brandade; prawns and cod in some of its aspects, such as the filling of foie gras and port sauce.
Where: Carrer d'Ocata, 6. Tel. 93 3102768. Hours: 1:30 to 15:30 and from 20:30 to 22:30. Price: over 50€.
The restaurant room Enjoy.
A perfect and exquisite combination between gourmet shop and restaurant is the best letter of presentation of this space, created by Patricia Amor and Riccardo Ferrari, the ideologues of this great project in which, with the appearance and language of an old apothecary, spectacular "gourmet remedies to cure the soul and palate" are dispatched, they describe. Of course, we must mention the design of the premises, where it is perceived as soon as you enter that everything is very careful, giving great relevance to the small details. Each product on display comes with its name and story, so customers know at all times what they are tasting. In the menu "we use good quality ingredients that hardly need to be combined to obtain good results," they explain.
Thus, in its simple menu, but very well elaborated, there is no shortage of important brands of sausages such as Arturo Sánchez or Joselito; the bread of Jordi Morera, or the desserts of David Gil, creator of I-Desserts; the Parmesan Caseificio Santa Rita, or the Upstream smoked salmon, which are unbeatable examples of the exquisite selection made by the owners. Among its most demanded dishes you can not miss the famous bikini or gilda, made with an anchovy and a piparra mousse. We must also mention its interesting wine cellar, which combines small producers with their own names along with other better-known wineries.
Where: Enric Granados, 114. Tel. 93 486 16 82. Schedule: Tuesday to Saturday from 8.30 a.m. to 22.30 p.m. Price: less than 50 €.
The restaurant room Enjoy.
Opened in 2014, this place was praised by both national and international critics almost from day one, to the point that it occupies the third position on the list of "The Worls 50 Best Restaurants". An excellent job done by Mateu Casañas, Oriol Castro and Eduard Xatruch, three workers of the famous and renowned El Bulli, where their friendship was forged. They are three true geniuses who achieve one success after another success, which could be observed when in 2012 they created the restaurant Compartir in the town of Cadaqués.
Their passion is to enjoy the constant creation of new dishes, an R+D process that they develop in the basement of the restaurant. Thanks to this formula they are maintained, season after season, at the highest level of creative demand, elaborating a one hundred percent avant-garde cuisine, with essence of the Mediterranean and material of first quality. Its great peculiarity is that they do not have a specific menu, but two types of tasting menu with two options. One is Disfrutar Festival, based on elaborations created in recent times and aimed more at experiencing new sensations; the other is Disfrutar Classic, focused on dishes that have become true classics of the house.
Where: Villarroel, 163. Tel. 93 348 6896. Hours: 13 to 16:30 from 20 to 24 h. Price: more than 50€.
Metropolis for American Express Spain.
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