Much-loved former No 1 continues to set stellar standards
It’s a family affair: The three Roca brothers are each global leader s in their respective fields – Joan as a chef, Josep as a sommelier and Jordi as a patisssier– so their combined creativity is almost overwhelming. But their warm fraternal dynamic also pervades the whole atmosphere of this unique, and hugely popular, restaurant.
Where exactly is it again? El Celler pilgrims must head to the small provincial city of Girona in Catalunya, an hour or so north-east of Barcelona. Once there, leave the attractive medieval old town behind and head to the nondescript working-class suburb of Taiala, where you’ll find the spacious, purpose-built restaurant secreted behind a discreet entrance passageway.
Once you walk up the passage: It’s a haven of tranquillity boasting a wine-lover’s fantasy cellar, a triangular glass-walled modernist dining room and a contemporary tasting menu that draws extensively from the Catalan terroir, while also taking cues from around the world.
What’s on the menu: While there are established favourites including Iberian suckling pig and variations on its multi-layered prawn compositions, the menu is never allowed to rest on its much-vaunted laurels. In recent years, the team has closed the restaurant during August to embark on annual tours to South America, Turkey, the US and more in order to broaden their collective culinary experiences. Influences are then fed back into dish development back in the enviably large kitchen back home.
A few final words: The brothers are hugely respected, their restaurant is highly influential and the dining experience remains extraordinary.