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Dining at Lasarte

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Before the most recent trip to Barcelona, I spent a lot of time researching various restaurants to dine at for a good friend’s birthday. In a city known for its food, narrowing down the choices was not an easy task. Obviously, the first place to look was anywhere with the name Adrià, either Ferran of elBulli fame or his brother, Albert, who runs the much-raved about Tickets, along with Enigma.

Making reservations turned out to be somewhat vague, with no clear confirmation a table would be available once in Barcelona. In the end, decided it was important we had a confirmed table to make sure it was an amazing birthday celebration. Running through various travel guides and, especially, the Michelin guide, found out about Lasarte, a three-Michelin star establishment located just off the Passeig de Gràcia.

The reservation process was straightforward and when inquiring about their menu, with regard to dietary restrictions, their response time was remarkable (they are very accommodating when it comes to dietary restrictions). The reservation process alone was just about enough to confirm the birthday would be celebrated at Lasarte.

The day arrived and we took a walk down the Passeig de Gràcia, even stopping for tapas on the way.

Upon entering the establishment, it was amazingly clean and modern. We were seated right away and noticed a few of the other tables with elegantly-presented dishes and just as elegantly-dressed patrons. It was already exhilarating walking into such an establishment, it got even more exciting once the menus arrived.

The evening began with an array of ornate appetizers, each served in a unique way, with a variety of textures to start the evening. The first course began with an oyster dish served with an iced watercress slush, parsnip, and sea mist. For molecular gastronomy fans, seeing anything with foam arrive to the table automatically get the senses going.

Probably the most beautiful of the 11 courses was the red curry dish. Described as scarlet shrimp royal with red curry, raw artichokes, celery, and apple, the dish offered a variety of colors and textures. It’s the typical go-to photo when telling people about the dinner.

Scarlet shrimp royal with red curry, raw artichokes, celery, and apple.

If I were to name the most memorable dish, there is no doubt it was the charcoal grilled pigeon with citrus, capers, black olive, and smoked sauce with galangal. The idea of eating pigeon was a rather foreign concept, which made it the most striking option when first perusing the evening’s menu. There was a red meat quality to the flavor and texture and, overall, it tasted good – it was mostly about getting over the idea of a pigeon being on the plate.

Charcoal grilled pigeon with citrus, capers, black olive, and smoked sauce with galangal.

Dessert was amazing – and gorgeous. Almond and salt praline, apricot, and rum ice cream. It’s cliché to say “it was too beautiful to eat,” but this, in fact, was; and it was all worth it once getting that first bite.

Almond and salt praline, apricot, and rum ice cream.

There’s a reason places like Lasarte are acclaimed. The aesthetic really makes a difference in the overall experience. A quiet and relaxed room with perfect lighting made the dinner all the more appealing. Very attentive staff – who even walk you to the bathroom – add an appreciation for the care the restaurant puts into service.

Then, there’s the food. 11 courses, each with its own unique taste and beauty, it truly presents the soul of the restaurant itself.

All of it comprises the “dining experience,” and this was one of the most memorable ones.

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A pleasant surprise after a big disappointment

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On the previous visit to Hong Kong, enjoyed dim sum at Maxim’s Palace, an amazing restaurant with those traditional food trolleys rolling around loaded with delicious small plates; on the most recent visit, received a tip on a dim sum place in the Sheung Wan district.

Upon arriving, it was a bit daunting, located on the second floor, it was crowded and was sharing a table with a couple other parties. With no employees making eye contact and unsure of what even to say if one was called over, backed out and scoured the neighborhood for a new spot.

After walking for a couple blocks, even wandering into a food center without anything terribly inviting, found a small restaurant tucked away along a side street. The menu had a variety of choices and, by that time, was very hungry.

Among the selections, ordered some fried noodles, rice, a large beer, and fried shrimp.

Ordering fried shrimp on a menu, had an image of the typical, western-style, shrimp with breading – maybe even something along the lines of popcorn shrimp (living in a place where cutting corners in the food industry is the norm, it has unfortunately now shaped one’s instincts).

As a pleasant surprise, a plate arrived with these large, beautifully-fried shrimp, atop some steamed broccoli (have been told, anything broccoli is not authentic Chinese, but it was a nice presentation). Grabbed one immediately and upon separating the head from the body, the juices that ran out was incredible, lesson learned for the next one. The breading was wonderfully light, the juices were marvelous, and the shrimp was delicious and meaty.

Dad says, finding Crowd Restaurant was probably meant to be, considering the original destination was a bust.

Arrived at the restaurant, unaware they were about to close lunch service, but they didn’t seem bothered too much. They may have turned off the lights in the unoccupied portion of the restaurant, but in no way was there pressure to eat faster and get out – professionals.

Arrived at the restaurant, unaware they were about to close lunch service, but they didn’t seem bothered too much. They may have turned off the lights in the unoccupied portion of the restaurant, but in no way was there pressure to eat faster and get out – professionals.

Written by Paulo Loreto

November 5, 2016 at 10:50 PM

Shrimp Burger

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The Monday after Thanksgiving, got back to Park Slope, Brooklyn from Toms River, New Jersey with giant suitcase in tow and some twist ankle ligaments. After getting everything tucked away, needed to grab lunch and with limited mobility, close proximity was a necessity. Hobbled over to Krupa Grocery, a fairly new establishment, with a healthy beer selection and a menu featuring all-day breakfast and various lunch offerings from sandwiches to salads – it was pretty easy making a selection.

My eyes were immediately drawn to the Panko Crusted Shrimp Burger. The menu lists the ingredients as black tiger shrimp, seaweed salad, Korean pickles, and kewpie mayonnaise – it was a lovely setup for what arrived – a delicious treat.

Shrimp Burger

The sandwich was big. The ingredients were stacked high and the shrimp patty was massive and that first bite was an amazing mix of flavors from the crunchy shrimp and pickles to the uniquely-flavored seaweed salad. Paired with fried fingerlings – definitely a welcome change to the typical French fries or onion rings – from beginning to end the meal was fantastic.

Written by Paulo Loreto

December 11, 2015 at 6:03 AM