Restaurant: Hoja Santa
Location: Av. de Mistral, 54, 08015 Barcelona, Spain. +34 933 48 21 94
Date: June 14, 2016
Cuisine: Modern Mexican
Rating: elBuli Mexicana
Ever since Jak 3 caused me to have to give up the reservation I had at elBuli, I’ve wanted to experience the legendary Adria cuisine. Supposedly the Spanish style of this is most closely reflected in Albert Adrià’s Tickets — but seeing as that was nearly impossible to get a reservation for, our party of 8 went instead to Adrià’s modernist Mexican, Hoja Santa.
The interior is casual and slightly kitchy. The website describes the restaurant thusly:
We love Mexico, and the way its gastronomy is a fundamental part of the country. HOJA SANTA is a homage and compliment to this culture, for this reason Albert Adrià and Paco Méndez have collaborated on an adventure into the creation of a restaurant in Barcelona, to share the flavours and traditions of Mexico. The name HOJA SANTA came from a journey made by the chefs Albert and Paco to Oaxaca. Here they were inspired by the Oaxaca leaf which also goes by the names acuyo, momo, hierba santa or tlanepa and is often used in cooking in the region.
Margarita. An unusual one too with a complex blend of fruit and herby flavors.
Margarita with salt foam. The traditional salt crystals have been infused into the foam.
Passionfruit and chocolate. Another interesting drink.
Pickles. Marinated onions, carrots, cucumbers, etc. Real nice crunch and a strong vinegar flavor.
Banana crisps and leaves. The crisps were quite spicy with a punchy “green chili” flavor. The leaves were sweet and crispy, almost like basil. Very enjoyable.
Chilled mango with herbs. More interesting fruit / herb combos.
Green chili. A delicious bright (and quite hot) tomatillo based salsa.
Cantine olives. The “classic” elBuli modernist olives, with a slight twist. In case you haven’t been to a Jose Andres or Adrià restaurant, these are olive puree suspended in calcium alginate spheres. The juice pops in your mouth. These weren’t just olive, but had a bit of tasty chili in there too.
Cornbread with chia and coffee caviar. The cornbread is the corn shaped thing. The caviar had a hint of spice. Extremely light and fluffy with a bit of taste of char. Very interesting. As a side note, they seem to love chia in Spain.
Avocado gazpacho. As good as you would imagine, and drunk right out of the avocado skin.
2014 Parés Baltà Syrah Penedès Rosé Radix. 90 points. Very unusual “powerful” deep red Syrah rose. Extremely nice and perfect with this cuisine.
Chicken skin caesar. A little bite size “caesar salad” on a bit of fried chicken skin. Neat.
A vegetarian replacement, one of those little edible packets filled with stuff.
Barbecue Jicara. A Jicara is a Mexican round pot, and this refers to the green corn shell. The meat was some kind of unusual cut and very soft, rich, and succulent with a bit of spices.
A vegetarian version with a corn “bowl” filled with some kind of white root vegetable.
Make your own quesadillas. Some gooey melted cheese.
Fresh corn tortillas.The cheese is scooped into the tortillas.
Ceviche under a frozen pond. A mix of cold balls of some kind of fish, radish or similar sorbet, flowers, etc, in a lovely cold lime broth. Very interesting dessert-like array of textures and temperatures, but with the ceviche flavors.
Pinenut pipian with white asparagus. Very nutty with a paste of pinenut (much like tahini) and the fresh white asparagus (the season is just wrapping up). Lovely.
Stuffed squash blossom taco. Pretty much the taco version of the classic Roman ricotta stuffed squash blossom.
Pipian papanteco with king crab. This rich curry-like sauce was made from who knows what. It was thick and delicious. There were also chunks of pistachio for texture and blobs and blobs of king crab. This was an awesome dish. The only disadvantage was a blob that landed on (and stained) one of my favorite shirts. We shall see if the dry cleaners can get it out.
Vegetable salad. Mixed marinated vegetables.
Fish taco. Fried hake nuggets and cucumber in a taco.
I wanted a red on the softer side to complement the food well and the excellent somm recommended with very unusual but really awesome Spanish Grenache — nothing like the typical deep purple Grenache, but more ruby/pinot like.
2012 Viñedos Bernabeleva Vinos de Madrid Bernabeleva Arroyo del Tórtolas. VM 92+. Brilliant ruby-red. A highly perfumed bouquet evokes Asian spices, raspberry, potpourri and smoky minerals. Extremely tight on the palate, offering vibrant red fruit and floral pastille flavors and a jolt of blood orange. Opens up slowly on the finish, which clings with excellent tenacity and silky, harmonious tannins. This one should age slowly.
Pistachio pipian with sea cucumber. This somewhat similar sauce to above was more tangy. The sea cucumber has an odd texture like always, but that didn’t matter with the yummy sauce.
And a second sauce, with some chili in it.
Morels with Ocosingo cheese cream. Wow these were good. Fresh morels in a kind of cheesy cream sauce.
This was a meat dish, and delicious, but I can’t remember exactly what was in it. There were these noodle like things too. Possibly it was: Cochinita pibil infladita (slow roast pork).
Puffs with some vegetable substitute inside. Airly and supposedly delicious.
2013 Acústic Celler Montsant Braó. Moving up to a beefier much more purple Grenache.
The chefs at work in the kitchen.
Foie gras and duck taco with Manchanteles mole. Amazing taco. Super rich with that big blob of foie but tons of flavor.
Here is the salsa Veracruz, with that tangy tomatillo flavor. The skate texture is “odd.”
Bresse quail, “Like Water for Chocolate.”
Then covered in ashed mole of roses. Awesome dish. In many ways a classic chicken mole, but with a nice subtle rose flavor and totally awesome.
Ashed mole of roses with vegetables.
Herbal popsicle. Delicious and refreshing. This kitchen uses a lot of herbs in non traditional (by conventional Euro/American standards), but obviously drawing from Mexican tradition. However, the Romans used these kinds of pairings all the time.
Pumpkin seed palanqueta. A tad dry.
Margarita with coconut cloud. Another light and delicious dessert.
2013 L’Olivera Cooperativa Costers del Segre Rasim Vimadur Negre. Some dessert wine.
Corn, chocolate, and cajeta. The “corn” was actually corn ice cream in corn shape. Pretty awesome.
Dragon fruit, lichi, and red pickly pear. Interesting frozen bonbons!
Mayan zero, coffee, cheese, and cinnamon. Little bits of puffy flavor.
The check came in this Mexican painted gourd.
Overall, an awesome meal. Decided very serious Mexican in flavors — actually a more formal type of Mexican we don’t get that much of in LA (where we have so many casual and Baja style places). It probably draws more on traditional high end cooking from Mexico City and Oaxaca, but then introduces modernist plating and techniques. These however, served onto to make the dishes more fun and playful, as they didn’t distract at all from the complex but harmonious flavors. Even the 2-3 vegetarians in our party loved this meal — and they normally don’t like Mexican. So double thumbs up!