Bodega 1900, from the astounding Albert Adriá collection of restaurants, is one whose memory grows into the stuff of legend. I was there with my son a year ago and found it to be totally beguiling. One dish, the grilled Pluma Ibérica Joselito, was so good, that it stood for an entire class of grilled, fresh Ibérico steaks as my best dish of 2014. Finding myself back in Barcelona and focused on visiting restaurants new to me, I made a single exception to return to this one. This time, though, other than their house Vermouth and the same Pluma Ibérica Joselito, I did not repeat any dishes. I am thrilled to report, that this meal was every bit as delicious as the previous one.
The only downer is that a scant four days after I was there, the restaurant’s chef, a true pro, Pedro Asensio, left to pursue other opportunities.
The restaurant was designed to evoke the sense of a turn of the 20th Century Catalan vermuteria, a vermouth bar with simple food. While they have a diverse list of Vermouths (and other beverages) available, their own house-made Vermouth is about as great a one as I’ve had. I wish that I could have brought some home with me.
This meal started with crunchy and spicy pork rinds, a perfect snack and opener to go with the vermouth.
The attention to quality is so paramount that even a simple pickled cucumber is a standout.
Parmesan crackers were another tasty entree to accompany my Vermouth.
Not on the regular menu, but available on this day as a special, I had to have some cecina, the sensational Spanish cured beef that is not nearly as well known as its porcine cousin, but is every bit as wonderful. This beef was from the rubia gallega cattle of Galicia. As expected, this lived up to its reputation, silky, sweet and packed with a deep umami punch.
I have come to the conclusion that Gillardeau oysters from France with their firm meat and deep, briny bowls, are the very best that I have had. This one did nothing to dissuade that opinion.
This is about as great as foie gras gets. Often the foie gets treated with a multitude of accompaniments, usually with something sweet to cut its richness. Here, it was simply a perfectly grilled lobe with a touch of salt – a very clear portrayal of the primacy of product.
A classic of Catalunya, cannelones are pure comfort food with its roll of baked, pasta stuffed with a rich farce of chicken and bathed in a creamy, cheesy sauce. There is simply nothing not to love about it, especially when prepared as well as this one was. This too was a special of the day and not from the regular menu.
Grilled leeks in a vinaigrette of its own ashes countered the meat-centric aspects of this meal quite nicely.
This was the one dish that I absolutely had to repeat, though truth be told, I’d be happy to repeat any of the dishes that I have had at Bodega at any time. It lived up to its memory. Is there a more delicious meat product than grilled, fresh Ibérico de bellota? If there is, I haven’t had it.
A little blood orange granita was a fabulously bright and refreshing way to pull this meal together.
This crispy flute filled with crema catalana made a great accent for an espresso.
I’ll put it succinctly – I love this restaurant. I love everything about it. The product used is of the utmost quality and is handled expertly and simply to let the product shine. There are Adriá vanguardist touches here and there, but for the most part, this is as straight forward as an Adriá restaurant gets. The setting is comfortable and perfect for the food. It is a place I hope to return to again and again.