2017: UPDATE – Gelonch has now PERMANENTLY CLOSED
Last week I went for lunch at Gelonch (C. Bailén, 56, (+34) 932658298, www.gelonch.es). I was here not too long ago to interview the owner/chef Robert Gelonch but as that’s still awaiting publication I’ll not dwell on the restaurant’s decor or philosophy and instead dive straight into the food.
Gelonch offers 2 set lunch menus for either €18 or €23. Neither include drinks but both offer remarkable value. Value is a word you’ll read a lot if you research Gelonch: the cooking here is astonishingly good for the price. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying Robert’s full tasting menu but I am assured by regulars that it is up there with the Michelin 1 star venues of the city. Because of the limited size of the restaurant and kitchen, and the consequently limited menu choices, Gelonch won’t be competing for stars any time soon but that is certainly not because of the quality of the food. For both invention and execution, this restaurant has an excellent reputation among Barcelona foodies.
Both my lunch companion Dan and I agreed that the cheaper of the two set lunches looked pretty good so we ordered a bottle of red (though I know not what: I forgot to note it down and this was last week, sorry. It was about €20 to give you an indication of what you’ll be spending at the budget end of the wine list) and enjoyed the complimentary yuca chips and some bread while we waited for the starter.
There’s nothing over-complicated about Gelonch. It’s inventive, certainly, but the strength of the restaurant is in doing simple things flawlessly. The griddled vegetables with rocket, cashews and Iberian cured ham was a case in point.
There were two main courses on offer so we decided order both and split them. First out was the fish of the day (which turned out to be skate) with wild mushroom risotto.
Firm, meaty fish with an improvable, nutty risotto of lip-smacking umami goodness. Again, there’s no rocket-science here just a lot of attention to detail.
We were both really looking forward to the slow-cooked beef with confit potatoes and asparagus. It didn’t disappoint.
Shin, I think, of young beef; spoon-tender and thick-grained in a meaty, deeply flavoured sauce with just the right balance of sweetness. We could both have eaten another plate of this. Delicious.
Gelonch has a good reputation for desserts so the cream cheese, flan ice-cream, fried banana and hazelnut “sand” promised to be good.
And so it was, except that I can’t stand fried bananas. Nothing wrong with the dish, just my personal taste; I think it’s the ruination of the texture of a perfectly good fruit. Otherwise, superb.
Gelonch is neither new nor a secret. It is, however, still an excellent restaurant that gets better over time as opposed to running out of ideas. Unless you’ve got money to burn, it should be on your list of places to try in Barcelona, especially for lunch, if you want something special.