Photo by Patricia Esteve
Despite its name, Basmati is not an Indian restaurant but instead specialises in original rice dishes invented by chef and owner Alex Rodríguez Ferrer. The ‘transcultural’ dishes encompass influences from the Mediterranean to South-East Asia, and a saffron and mushroom risotto of carnaroli rice bound with goat’s cheese rubs shoulders with a basmati dish of quail, king scallops and Tête de Moine cheese. Non-rice dishes are equally imaginative, such as ox fillet with grilled foie or candied hake with coconut milk.
In terms of decor, they have made the best of a dark, narrow, semi-subterranean space, but in spite of the bright silks and spotlit Oriental knick-knacks, the grey cement walls give it a rather bunkerish feel.
Basmati recently dropped the price of its set lunch menú from €18 to €11.50, and although this has done the trick in terms of bums on seats, it has also meant a little corner cutting. The first courses of the set lunch were a tempura of rather soggy cod (it needed to be cut into much finer strips) and some nicely crisp courgette presented with the usual Eixample tics of chive snippings and plenty of squeezy bottle sauce work. There was also a salad that was impeccably dressed but a bit Wonderbra, by which I mean a haystack of lettuce leaves serving to lift, pad and volumise the rather scant portions of crab and asparagus.
Mains were a forgettable beef stroganoff and a real cracker of a rice dish: crisp and chewy grains of vialone nano bursting with flavour and richly studded with clams and king prawns. This was probably the best rice dish I have ever had in Barcelona, and the fact that it was part of a set lunch menú is nothing short of amazing. I would love to see Ferrer’s take on a paella marinera, and am pretty certain that it would put anything on offer down on the seafront on a Sunday to shame. Someone get this man a terrace.
Basmati: París 163. Tel. 93 363 0651; www.restaurantbasmati.com. Lunch menú: €11.50. Open: Mon-Sat 1.30pm-3.30pm; Mon & Tues 9pm-10.30pm, Wed & Thur 9pm-11pm, Fri & Sat 9pm-11.30pm.