El Celler de Can Roca was on the top of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” in 2013 and 2015, slipping to #2 this year. It still is a total dining experience, not just a meal. Located a short train ride from Barcelona, Girona is a tourist heavy town with shopping and tours of the locations where the popular TV show “Game of Thrones” has been filmed. The restaurant takes a cab ride from the train station, as it is not right in town. In an ivy covered building with a lovely enclosed patio is the very modern dining area. As expected they have tons of service people and yet they overlooked the fact that one of their service carts (which are located throughout the dining space) was located so close to our table
that they had to bump into me every time they opened a door or bent down to get something. It was a very odd thing for a restaurant of this caliber, but they either noticed or heard me talking and pretty soon the cart was moved enough that we could both be in the area without colliding.
Tables are large, set with nice linens, and far enough apart to provide easy and private table conversations. They offer 2 tasting menus to choose from and excellent and generous wine pairings for both. Josep Roca, the sommelier brother, made the rounds of the dining room to welcome guests but the other brothers did not come out. Either menu starts with a numerous amuse complete with lots of props to accompany them and finishes with selections from the dessert cart. The place has invested in a huge supply of interesting and custom made serving plates to serve their food on which adds to the entertainment aspect, but not the flavor component. We chose a lunch reservation and were there long enough to have it turn dark before our trip back. We had the Feast menu with wine pairings and they nicely listed the amuse courses and the wines served on the menu they sent me home with. They also have the wonderful offering of a toothbrush in the bathroom, which is a luxury often forgotten. Service was friendly and most of the staff was very proficient in English.
Our meal started with a amuse bouche called “The World” which offered bites with the seasonings typical of various countries.
Next was “memories of Girona” which featured a prop with photos of each of the brothers as children and some of the things they grew up eating.
Options from the sea were next and then frozen green ‘olives’ hanging on the tree. Even the little metal hangers had the “R” trademark on them.
The truffle amuse was a giant flavor explosion of truffle in the form of chocolates and brioche. Both really good.
The bread basket was full of wonderful choices but I particularly like the flakey, buttery rolled tomato pastries.
The Feast menu started with the red mullet, which was very mildly flavored.
The flower was made of onion pieces doused with a rich broth of comte cheese. It was delicious.
Another marvelous sauce was on the langoustine course. The perfectly cooked shellfish was served with a sauce containing mole and coconut. It was quite nice.
The mackerel was served with beans piped into the shape of the skeleton. It was visually fun.
The prawn was another visual delight with a deeply colored, rich broth made from long cooking of the heads. Tasty.
The Iberian pig was amazingly good, tender and full of flavor with a perfectly crisped skin.
The server helped us choose some items from the dessert cart and then packed a box of treats for us to take with us. She made the meal even more fun.