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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is the salsa Veracruz, with that tangy tomatillo flavor. The skate texture is “odd.”
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.
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!