I’ve written about Mano Rota before. So have a lot of people.
It’s one of my favourite restaurants in Barcelona and their new vegetarian tasting menu is another work of brilliance.
This cosy side street restaurant became the stuff of fervid foodie conversation from the moment it opened its doors, and chef Bernat Bermudo’s inventive dishes have ensured it has remained so.
I won’t go into the whole backstory again, but suffice to stay the emphasis is still very much on market cuisine elevated with ingredients inspired by the chef’s time in Peru, Japan and Thailand. A big “Yes!” for yuca lovers.
This is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of my all-time favourite restaurants.
They just do so many things right: the food is exciting and interesting, surprising without ever being pretentious or gimmicky.
Service is warm and unpretentious and there’s a sense of ownership among the staff, each member contributing a little slice of themselves to the overall experience. Ask any camarero a question about any dish or wine and they light up as they reply.
And then of course there’s the fact that the sounds of The Beatles and Beach Boys pulsate through the dining room, which is always going to win me over.
I’m genuinely surprised they don’t have any Michelin-stars, but then I don’t think they’d want any. There’s a genuine sense of playfulness and spontaneity here and I can’t imagine they’d want to be shackled to anything or anyone that may interfere with it. And I for one wouldn’t want anything to change either, not least the prices, which are very reasonable.
Mano Rota’s New Veggie Menu
Like many restaurants and big brand food companies today, Mano Rota has recently launched an all-vegetarian tasting menu, which includes four “snacks” (entrés), six main dishes and two desserts, all paired with fantastic Catalan wines – if you order the pairing menu, which you definitely should.
As I understand, it will replace the meat menu for certain periods throughout the month – i.e. it will not always be available, so be sure to check ahead (you’ll need to book a table in advance anyway).
Each dish is packed with bold flavours. Some bright and in your face, others more restrained and nuanced.
My favourites included the Thai gyoza (could have eaten a hundred of these) with an addictive peanut salsa, and a gratifying risotto with parmesan-smothered cubes of yuca instead of rice. Paired with the perfect wine, this was just excellent.
The biggest highlight of the meal for me however was the toasted cauliflower with a creamy hazelnut sauce, which was honestly as flavourful and satisfying as any meat dish I’ve ever eaten (I’m not a vegetarian by the way).
At a time when we’re all becoming more aware of the negative effects that our insatiable appetite for meat is having on the planet, not to mention the health benefits of not eating it in the first place, I think it’s safe to say that we will all be getting more used to the idea of gourmet vegetarian cuisine. I can only hope that the future will bring more chefs like Bernat to make it such a pleasure to go meat-free.
It’s not the cheapest restaurant in Barcelona, but it is absolutely one of the very best. I suggest saving it for the last night of your holiday in Barcelona or, if you live here, as a place to celebrate a special occasion. Whether you’re vegetarian or not, I highly recommend the new veggie tasting menu.
If you simply must eat meat, check out my previous post about their “normal” tasting menu.
Oh, and be sure to splash out a little extra for the wine pairing menu – it really made the whole experience for me.
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