Romance, love, hearts, Valentine'sGet into the romantic mood with these suggestions for seductive dining with your loved one
Open the pages of any lifestyle section of any newspaper today and I guarantee you’ll find it teeming with predictable Valentines themes: recipes with chocolate, best of the pink champagnes and of course the most romantic restaurants to do your wooing in.
It is one of the busiest nights of the year for restaurants, though that doesn’t necessarily make it the best night to splash your cash as a consumer. Since it falls on Tuesday this year, I'm guessing many of the city’s parejas will wisely save their intimate celebrations for the weekend when things are back to normal. Meanwhile I asked the good folk of Barcelona—Catalan and expat—to share their favourite places for a bit of common-or-garden romance.
Amelia Artal, Sommelier, Cinc Sentits: “Dos Cielos (ME Hotel, Pere IV 272-286, tel. 93 367 2070, www.doscielos.com) because usually the rule is either ‘good view or good food’ but [there] we had a decadent meal, with discreet service, sensual food and a beautiful view. One dish in particular—one of their signatures—is a root vegetable cream, totally sensuous texture, topped with a spoonful of tapioca [that] puts you into sensory overload. We were right at the top of a skyscraper, it was nighttime with the city lights twinkling below."
Jordi Angli, Head Chef at Ocaña (due to open in March): “Alkimia (Industria 79, tel. 93 207 6115, www.alkimia.cat, closed Sat & Sun) because it’s a great kitchen for really comfortable fine dining. By that I mean it’s small enough to feel intimate, nicely lit and they provide good, unobtrusive service that doesn’t feel hassled. The cooking has its base in traditional products and is creative enough to be exciting without going overboard.”
Sally Davies, Editor Time Out Guide to Barcelona: “La Carassa, (Brosoli 1, tel. 93 310 3306, www.lacarassa.com) because it’s the cosiest of the Born's handful of fondue restaurants (low ceilings, beams, candles, oil paintings, lacy tablecloths) and just the right side of kitsch, with dimly lit corners crying out for trysts. You do get the impression that every day is Valentine's Day in here—the racily named fondues include the 'Afrodita' and the 'Rasputin', and the ladies are presented with a red carnation as they leave.”
Toby Kenyon, Partner at Factor3 Events: “El Pla (Bellafila 5, tel. 93 412 6552, www.elpla.cat) because it is tucked away in a tiny street in the Gothic Quarter, and it is a cool little restaurant with intimate nooks perfect for romantic dinners. The warm colour scheme and subtle lighting, together with casual service and great food are the perfect recipe for an intimate rendez-vous.”
Catalina Gaya, Journalist at El Periódico de Catalunya: “Yamadori (Aribau 68, tel. 93 451 3655) because it was the first Japanese restaurant in Barcelona and the food I like best in the world. It’s not pretentious, minimalist or designer, but the waiters are wonderful at making you feel special (even if you’re with kids as I was). Sit at the bar if you want to watch the show, but for me it’s most romantic in the dining room downstairs.”
Sarah Stothart, private Chef (previously Tapioles 53): “Toc (Girona 59, tel. 93 488 1148, www.tocbcn.com) because it’s where we went when I found out I was pregnant with my first baby. Service is warm and knowledgeable and the food consistently excellent. My favourite thing to eat there is a seasonal fruit salad that is cut into julienne and mixed up with lots of different textures. It’s completely yummy—light, fun and clever.”
As for me, I prefer to stay in and do something that sounds extravagant, but is actually very simple and generally quite French. This year I’m thinking tarragon chicken with a salad of French green beans, hazelnuts and lemon zest, a homey pear upside down cake and a slab of gooey French cheese washed down with my favourite Llopart cava.