NEICHEL

NEICHEL

Barcelona, Spain

July 2006

We almost didn’t find this restaurant, tucked away in a very residential section of the city, in the bottom of an apartment complex. Once found, I loved the dining room. It was modern, comfortably furnished and looked out at a small garden dripping with lemon trees. The one thing that did surprise me? Although the wait staff was impeccably dressed, the clientele was fairly casual. Lynn and I always dress when we go out to eat. I’m usually in a dress and even when traveling in Europe, wearing high enough heels that won’t kill me should we find ourselves without a cab ride back to the hotel and have to foot it.   

I know the Spaniards pride themselves on eating late. We arrived at 9:30 p.m. and the space didn’t start filling up until we were at least an hour into our meal. Our first discovery for fine dining in Barcelona was that prices are much lower than in other European countries. Nearly 25% lower. That said we ordered a tasting menu for a mere 69 euros per person, a bottle of Rioja that I calculated at $23 at the current exchange rate not to mention two very large vodka apéritifs for 11 euros. 

We started with an amuse bouche of thick gazpacho with a twist: chunks of shrimp, slices of asparagus and a few pieces of watermelon floating on top. It was delicious. Our first “official” course was a foie gras terrine followed by a cold sliced carpaccio salad with shavings of parmesan AND truffles. One of the waiters brought us an amazing bread basket filled with chewy bread to mop everything up. Our second course — scallops in a curry sauce nestled on a bed of couscous. Then came the house specialty: suckling pig with homemade spätzle.

We drank some more wine. Then moved on to a simple selection of cheeses (all French by the way which I found particularly amusing being in Spain for the first time) followed by a dessert cart where Lynn and I split a strawberry tart to end the meal. But before we could ask for the check, we were brought a small dish of spicy peppercorns coated in chocolate and olives dusted with powder sugar.

It was our first “real” meal in Spain (and cooked by an Alsatian chef). We were wowed.

 

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