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Photo by Tara Stevens
Avalon patatas bravas
Patatas bravas at Avalon
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Photo by Tara Stevens
The interior of Avalon
The first thing you need to know about my review of Ávalon (C/ Pare Gallifa 3, jto. Vía Laietana, 932 957 905, www.avalonrestaurant.es) is that it is written on the back of a press lunch and therefore I was invited. At Barcelona Metropolitan we always dine incognito and always pay the bill, but in this case I was curious about the rework. It’s been a while since I ate here under my own steam and since my first impressions were generally good, here it is.
The design hasn’t changed. It’s still a slick angular room of charcoal columns and space-saucer like lamps that give it a certain Wallpaper appeal. The name has. It’s now called Ávalon (not Actual) and the menu has been given a rework by Ramón Freixa who remains the consultant chef. Most significant of all is the menu which changes daily, is available day and night, mid-week and weekends for a total of €21.40 including IVA. Three courses, a glass of wine, water and coffee seems like a bit of a bargain, especially if you’re looking for a treat on the cheap.
It’s a menu that reads well too, offering starters like Caesar salad and lentil stew with chistorra, followed by bacalao with piperrada and garlic roast chicken and torta de Santiago and crema de limón.
Unfortunately there’s no substitute for food that is freshly made and too many of the dishes I ate seemed to have been reheated or frozen. A shame because this hotel restaurant really does have the potential to stand out as an affordable yet hip, modern Catalan bistro.
We began with a selection of pica-pica, the most interesting of which was a new interpretation of the ubiquitous patatas bravas. No foam, no cookie cutter shapes, but rather a baked baby potato with a scoop taken out of the middle with a melon baller and filled with alioli or brava sauce. They looked great, but had the tell-tale signs of something that had been made earlier and reheated, all over them. The croquettes were also OK, but didn’t have that rich silky, unctuousness of truly stellar croquettes.
Arroz with cuttlefish and artichokes was suitably autumny, and macarrones stuffed with spinach and topped with béchamel, pinenuts and raisins provided good, solid comfort food thought the sauce was a touch claggy. My pescado de escama—bream baked with apples and black olives would have been excellent had the apple been present. In fairness the fish itself was done to perfection and the stew of potatoes and tomatoes in, possibly a cider based sauce, was tip-top, but there was no getting away from the fact there was not an apple in sight. I didn’t try the beefburger with chestnuts and sweet potatoes though it looked pretty tasty—a bowling ball of a burger sans le bun—and I thought, perfect for a Halloween supper.
Of the puddings my pineapple sorbet cradled by a carpacchio of fresh pineapple sprinkled with poppy seeds was a winner. Nicely refreshing. Good. Another journalist had the crema de limón and went into raptures. One taste and I could see why. It was just like lemon curd, one of my favourite childhood flavours.
All in all then I wouldn’t rule Ávalon out if I needed somewhere a little bit formal for a business lunch say, or somewhere with a designer edge on the cheap. It just needs a bit of tweaking if it’s to break free of the hotel-restaurant mould.