dines at Sant Pau, Sant Pol del Mar

Sant Pau, the flagship of Carme Ruscalleda, is based in the small town of Sant Pol de Mar, just north of Barcelona. Right on the sea, the restaurant's raison d'être is seasonality and local produce, though often cooked in unexpected ways.  Carme also runs a restaurant in Tokyo, and her strong Japanese influences are palpable.  When we visited, the restaurant was celebrating the 9th anniversary of the Toyko opening, and a number of dishes originated at the Tokyo San Pau.

Having spent a week in Barcelona, I've come to realise what a naturally umami-rich palate Catalonians have, with jamon, octopus and calcots, so it's no surprise that the two cooking styles should coalesce so well at Sant Pau.  I was also absolutely entranced by the range of skills shown by the kitchen - lots of modern techniques and witty takes on dishes, but ultimately not at the sacrifice of flavour and seasonality.

The restaurant itself is charming, with a beautiful room overlooking the garden and the sea - in the summer guests can dine outside, or take drinks in the verdant oasis, watching the chefs at work in the ground floor kitchen... Staff were exceptionally charming and attentive, and I would highly recommend the restaurant to anyone visiting Barcelona.  If you come during the day you can take the train along the coast, and watch the crashing waves - certainly one way of awakening your appetite.

Appetisers: Miso with nine dried nuts sticks; courgette and Duroc pork maki with wasabi
Duroc pork maki with wasabi
Smoked Mediterranean tuna and soja
Seawater canelloni, pea puree 

Three spring asparagus

Gamba tails on sailor's toast

Maresme peas, umami heaven

Monkfish with blackened calcot, and tiny onion petals, and spheres, in a saffron sauce

Pluma of Iberian pork, xiulets in tempura
Strawberries, with Muscadet jelly

Vacherin Fribourgeois
Vacherin three ways, with artichokes, rose and pine nuts,
each highlighting a different flavour aspect of the cheese
Transparent cube (with lid), filled with fresh fruit - exquisite!
White chocolate, crispies, cubes of gin jelly
"The train is coming"
The train: frangelico financier, white chocolate rock, limoncello jelly, coconut cookie, 
orange black chocolate,  black chocolate rock, raspberry crumble,
liquorice and sherbet stick (scrumptious!!!), millefeuille with angel hair
Petit Fours: going clockwise, the frangelico financier, coconut cookie, orange black
chocolate, millefeuille with pine nuts (centre), limoncello pate de fruit, and mini Sacher

Restaurant Sant Pau,
Carrer Nou, 10
08395 Sant Pol de Mar
Phone: (+34) 937 600 662