Escape vibrant Barcelona for an evening and enjoy a gastronomic adventure at the iconic Restaurant Sant Pau
By Sharon Preston
Located 48km outside of Barcelona along the magnificent Catalan coastline, and just 6km from the little town of Girona, one finds the tiny picturesque fishing village of Sant Pol de Mar, famous for it terraced houses, beautiful beach and magnificent Michelin star restaurant. In fact, Restaurant Sant Pau, a converted townhouse right on the sea that borders the pretty beach of Sant Pol de Mar, is one of Spain’s best-kept secrets. Those in the know will travel any distance to get here to enjoy its avante garde Catalan cuisine that is prepared by culinary mastermind, chef Carme Ruscalleda.
The restaurant, which only seats 35 people, has boasted three Michelin stars since 2009. Aside from the superb cuisine, the setting is also idyllic. Guests are pampered with fine food inside the restaurant in a choice of two elegant dining rooms, each large and spacious, with huge windows offering a spectacular view of the immaculate garden and the sea in the distance. Tables are generously spaced so that you don’t feel cramped. You can also enjoy appetizers or coffee outside on a terrace if you wish – but the food is so stunning it’s unlikely you’ll notice much of your surroundings.
Every course is a theatrical performance, a whimsical experience that results in a masterpiece on a plate. The waiter brings each dish hidden underneath a little wooden crate, and then, with pomp and splendor, the crate is lifted to reveal your edible artwork on a plate.
Although the restaurant is small, it has a total of 20 chefs preparing the food in the kitchen. With Carme Ruscalleda at the helm, every dish is quite sublime. She is famous for showcasing dishes from the Maresme region, which is famous for its fishing ports and ensures that each dish is finely balanced, with a respect for natural flavors.
The chefs offer their guests a unique style of gastronomy, creations that are inspired by the landscape and the traditional Catalan cuisine. While chef Carme Ruscalleda reigns supreme in the kitchen, you’ll find Tony Balam, front of house, making sure that guests are well looked after.
An inspiring meal at this world-famous restaurant is a treat. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not sample the delectable tasting menu? Although the dishes change according to what’s seasonal, there’s a characteristic theme here – outstanding Catalan coastal dishes reinterpreted in extraordinary ways to make every plate a taste sensation.
At Sant Pau every course is a theatrical performance, a whimsical experience that results in a masterpiece on a plate. The waiter brings each dish hidden underneath a little wooden crate, and then, with pomp and splendor, the crate is lifted to reveal your edible artwork on a plate. The food is as delightfully delicious as it is imaginative. Then, just as you’ve experienced the joy of its unique flavors, the next surprise is delivered to your table.
Interestingly enough, the restaurant now has a branch in Tokyo in Japan, and this one has earned two Michelin stars. Since the Japanese establishment opened in 2004, Carme has included Asian-inspired flavors on her Spanish restaurant’s menu as well, offering an even more exciting, and surprising combination of culinary delights.
You can either get to the restaurant by car, or take the 40-minute train journey from Barcelona. The railway line literally runs along the coast for much of the journey, which is a joy in itself.
Highlights of Restaurant Sau Pau
The chef Carme Ruscalleda visits every table personally to check on diners. One guest mentioned that he and his wife were celebrating their anniversary and the chef made a special dessert for them. Now that’s service with a personal touch.
The meals are well thought out and planned down to the last detail, something that is shown by the incredible food and wine pairings.
Attendees are treated to coffee and dessert in the beautifully lit garden at the end of the meal. The desserts are made up of an incredibly delectable assortment of confectionery treats.
The Iberian Pork and the Prawn tails on sailor’s toast are so good, you have to eat them to believe it! The monkfish and deer loin are also worth a try.
The restaurant is never packed with too many people, which gives diners the chance to relax and take in the laidback atmosphere without the hustle and bustle that often affects the experience at other restaurants..
Restaurant Sant Pau has been a member of the esteemed Relais & Châteaux association of hotels and restaurants since 2001.