Barcelona's Bohemic Rhapsody

  • Share
  • Read Later

Illuminating Bohemic is a real surprise

Francesc Gimeno bounds across his small dining room and enthusiastically introduces his restaurant, Bohemic. The man who opened the door — that was his father. The woman who brought the menus, his mother. The local ingredients he uses, he says, are as fresh as you'll find in any of Barcelona's top establishments. And the food? Well, clearly he thinks it ranks with the best.

A couple of hours later and we're in complete agreement. Belying its nondescript appearance in Barcelona's Sant Antoni neighborhood and the relative youth of its chef, Bohemic is a marvel.

The supremely flavorful patatas bravas that kicked things off may have made it impossible for me to order them anywhere else. And from there, the selections veered far from and then back toward traditional Catalan food — a mix of whimsically created offerings at once familiar and exotic. There was a touch of the molecular wizardry that chefs in Spain are known for, but not so much that you forgot that this was a restaurant, not a laboratory.

The menu served as a guide more than anything else. Gladly taking personal preferences into account and constantly re-emerging from the kitchen to explain what was happening, Gimeno sent out selections that included lightly emulsified Llavaneres peas joined by an oyster that was set aflame; a pastry stuffed with grilled eggplant and peppers; an egg and asparagus dish that looked like a Matisse painting rendered in food; and, for dessert, something that looked liked cotton candy, accompanied by berries covered in, I believe, Pop Rocks.

With all of that washed down by a lovely bottle of rosé and a postprandial port, we stepped out into the night, expecting the streets to be as abuzz as we were. In fact, they were quiet, save for the resounding goodbyes of two generations of Gimenos. And thus we headed home — with their farewells in our ears and a meal for the ages in our bellies.

For reservations, call (34-93) 424 0628.

Got an awful travel gripe? The Avenger may be able to sort it out for you.