So what does a four-Michelin-star chef such as Paco Pérez do after having put his name on a handful of highly successful ‘New-Catalan’ restaurants both at home and abroad? He opens a chic restaurant passionately devoted to the humble egg.
An ingredient that chefs swoon over for its velvety yolk and naturally-ingenious versatility, eggs are often used as a final coup de grâce to push a dish over the edge from intelligently designed to indulgently enlightened. As one who has been accused of ‘putting an egg on everything’, all I can say is, “Why not?”
Though the egg often rests atop a dish’s main attraction as a delicate final stroke, at L’Eggs Pérez gives tender whites and oozing yolks the star treatment. Even if it wasn’t for the wholly obvious name and the neon egg in the window, entering the dining room of L’Eggs is like walking into the brainchild of a farmer whose sophisticated taste in restaurant design and surplus of hay and chicken wire brought him a fateful and determined moment of divine inspiration. Walls of chain-link fencing and straw lit by bare incubator bulbs frame the comfortable dining room, flanked by plush banquets upholstered in rustic farmhouse carpeting, accented by a pot-pourri of antique farm accoutrement and sparkling rows of perfectly polished glassware—I smiled upon realising that the highly-trained staff wear leather tool belts in place of the expected bistro apron; a delightful touch. Having been open for only three weeks, L’Eggs has achieved the near impossible—creating a new restaurant space that appears to have always been and seems as if it always will be.
Dinner began with a rich-textured amuse bouche of melon gazpacho in a slender shooter, milky white and earthy with onion and white pepper playing prominent roles. It is often common practice to treat solo diners as ‘VIPs’ in the world of fine dining, yet I deeply appreciated this bit of grace; sipping the complementary apertivo, I contemplated that professional service in Barcelona may be on the up.
Though the service was excellent—attentive yet relaxed—the kitchen seemed to still be trying to find their rhythm. However, the noticeable delay between courses was mitigated by the feather-light and perfectly-crisp pan de cristal and tomato, with its stark dressing of delicate olive oil and salt. Also, the wine was great. I instantly sank deeper into my cushioned seat as I tasted the big warmth and roundness of the recommended red: Prima 2012 Toro DO. L’Eggs believes that wine from larger bottles has a superior taste and character, therefore they have a list of some 11 magnums, six of which can be poured in varying-sized carafes starting at 250ml, allowing customers to taste great wine without buying an entire double bottle.
Toro is a region of Spain known for big, strong, full-bodied wines, but the luxuriously rich, slow-cooked egg swaddled in ribbons of potato with Canarian salmorejo, tiny diced carrots and rabbit shoulder blade, as well as the one served en cocotte with a show-stopping sauce perigueux of veal stock, truffles, foie gras, bacon and green onion, were more than capable of standing their ground valiantly against the powerful red. By and large, the flavours of my first two dishes rang out loud and clear with seasoning and balance that met the mark, though both dishes arrived at the table listlessly luke-warm. ‘Hot Food, Hot Plate!’ is a mantra drilled into the professional chef—an easy first step in assuring the ultimate enjoyment and accurate perceptions of what is most certainly the fruit of more hours of work and dedication than the average diner could ever imagine. Apologies were profuse and I moved on to the final course.
An egg yolk-rich steak tartare with paper-thin disks of toasted bread and a fragrant truffle alioli rounded off the end of my meal. A simple, tasty, elegant plate of food that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Do I have any regrets? Yes—I didn’t order the egg-yolk croquettes (a six-piece order seemed a bit excessive for a solo diner). My advice? Bring friends.
Passeig de Gràcia 116 (Jardinets de Gràcia). Tel. 93 330 0303. Dinner €30-€40/person. Kitchen open every day from 1pm-midnight. Bar open until 2am. Large rooms for private dining available.