Tunateca Balfegó in Barcelona’s upper Example is a ‘gastronomic space’ created to showcase the Balfegó group’s excellent bluefin tuna.
Review: Tunateca Balfegó Espai Gastronòmic, l’esquerra de l’Eixample, Barcelona
If there were an ‘indistinct muttering’ font on this blog I’d deploy it here to mumble the truth: I don’t love tuna. Oh, I like it well enough. It’s perfectly pleasant and I appreciate the good stuff. But I can’t get excited about it the way some people do. It’s not an ingredient that haunts my dreams or draws rhapsodic prose from my fingertips. So, as a guest entering Tunateca restaurant, located on the corner of Diagonal and C/ Muntaner in Barcelona, I felt like an agnostic visiting a cathedral: admiring the architecture and the ambition of it all but unable to fully get into the spirit alongside the true believers.
And true believers there are aplenty. Tunateca only opened in April this year but is already a hit. This a temple to tuna: a 300m2 space on multiple levels where workshops can be held and worshippers can indulge in the finest examples of their favourite fish. It’s beautifully designed, with a swirling spiral of fish overhead and plunging columns and curtains of deep-sea blue. The tables and long, high bar (of the currently popular, conversation-killing kind I dislike) fill with diners undaunted by the monothematic menu.
Tunateca serves – you’ve guessed it – only tuna. Two renowned chefs have helped create the dishes: Hideki Matshuisa, of Michelin-starred Restaurante Koy Shunka in Barcelona; and Marc Miró, of La Llotja in L’Ametlla de Mar. Other high-profile chefs are expected to create dishes for the restaurant in the near future. For now, the menu includes first-rate sashimi, nigiri and other Japanese classics, plus more off-the-wall creations such as a wonderful ‘bikini’ toasted sandwich of tuna belly with mozzarella cheese.
A helpful diagram on the menu explains the various cuts of bluefin tuna and its nutritional properties, within which Omega acids abound. Balfegó group, which opened Tunateca to show off the quality of its tuna to Barcelona’s top chefs, would do well to boast equally loudly about its provenance. Instead of depleting wild fish stocks, Balfegó captures wild tuna and keeps them in offshore pens where they eat only their natural diet. Captured fish can even breed and much effort is made to keep the process sustainable. For chefs, the added bonus is a reliable year-round source of first-class bluefin at stable prices.
There will be – butchering? fishmongering? – let’s just say whole-fish tuna preparation sessions, tastings and workshops. If, like most, you just want to eat, expect to spend around €30-40 per person although you could run up a bill of twice that. Is it worth it? It is if you love tuna. The quality is extremely high, the dishes well executed and the space very attractive. The atmosphere is – perhaps fittingly – on the cool side but true bluefin fans will find dishes to warm their hearts.
Tunateca Balfegó Espai Gastronòmic | Avda. Diagonal 439, 08036 (Eixample), Barcelona | Tel. (+34) 63 797 6460 | www.tunatecabalfego.com
Look for Tunateca in the Eixample neighbourhood guide.
Find Tunateca on the FoodBarcelona restaurants map.