Short version:

Fismuler is a very competent modern Spanish restaurant with a high degree of creativity in the kitchen. That means some dishes absolutely hit their mark, while others may disappoint.

The hits, in my opinion, far outweigh the misses. Fismuler is not just one of my favorite El Born restaurants, but one of Barcelona’s best. Definitely worth a visit.

Long version:

Being located in a newly-built three-star hotel in El Born hardly inspires confidence, but Fismuler delivers far beyond expectations.

Firstly, the space is much better than you expect, and unusual in that it isn’t limited by being in an old building.

There’s a wall of glass with a bench along the front, which I’d say was the pick if it weren’t for the fairly uninspiring square in front. Likewise the street side terrace. Inside, benches line the walls and restaurant tables fill the space to the rear where there’s more natural light. And there are low and high shared tables closer to the entrance. 

I quite like the high tables.

Unusually, the reception and drinks service area is an island bench in the middle of the room, adding to the casual feel.

The menu – in the Spanish style – doesn’t inform much, beyond the ingredients in each dish.

On my first visit, I chose a tomato salad, Iberic pork cheek brioche with truffle, and chick peas with veal and lobster from the starters list. Along with an individual serve of chocolate and hazelnut cake, that was entirely enough food for two diners.

It’s what is on the plate that counts

I expected the tomatoes to be something special, and wasn’t disappointed. A large plate of different varieties of tomato, a little sauce with oil (couldn’t identify the flavor) and some chervil. For those of us used to standard mass-produced tomato cultivars – bred for colour and transportability, rather than flavor – a dish like this is a revelation. Quite a lot for two people though.

Next up was the pork cheek brioche, and it was the highlight for us. There’s a comfort-food element here – this dish can be eaten like a sandwich – but the flavours and textures are sublime.

And finally for our savoury dishes came the chick peas. This one was a bit more challenging – the three prawn-sized lobster tails were served raw, and the veal appeared to be gelatinous fat, forming a sticky, fatty sauce on the peas. To be fair, the freshness of the lobster tail cuts through the fat, though there weren’t enough of them for the amount of chick peas. Overall, a bit one-dimensional compared to the other dishes.

Spying on our neighbours, there were plenty more options on the menu that we’d try (and we have done so), but also plenty that we wouldn’t order as well. 

I’m coming back

So the question is, is it worth it? Happily, I reckon it is. If it were a stuffy, formal restaurant I’d be less enthused. But for the prices, I’m pretty happy. (Our ‘starters’ which were all much bigger than we expected were all in the €15-20 range). To have one that was a miss, even if it was a near miss, wasn’t a bad outcome. And the four different wines we tried by the glass at €3-4 were all exceptional. 

The point is that little on the menu is standard, so you’re going to find yourself outside your comfort zone. Sometimes that will work for you, sometimes not.

Me? I like living a little dangerously.

I was back again within the month for the paper-thin veal scaloppine with egg and mushrooms (which, to be honest, was another one that fell a bit flat), a superb ‘mellow rice of cockles, Chinese chard’ and a lovely semi-cured sea bream. 

Carrer del Rec Comtal, 17

Tel: 93 514 00 50


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The lobster rice is popular

Yes, Las Ramblas can be tourist hell. But not everything here is yellow paella and sangria in mugs.

There are no touts on the street tempting you up the stairs to Louro in the Centro Galego, which is the first good sign. The specialty here is Galician fare, in case the locale wasn’t enough of a hint.

The kitchen turns out some dishes of varying sophistication and success. Our last meal included some perfect padron peppers, gratinated scallops that were a little overpowered by the topping, plain steamed mussels that were clearly fresh but would have benefitted from some sauce, and some utterly spectacular smoked anchovies on toast. 

After several previous visits we finally relented and had lobster rice for a main. It seems this dish goes to just about every table in the restaurant, but there’s a reason for that – it is very, very good, and good value too by Barcelona standards at €24 per person (min 2 pers). 

Our waiter was friendly and knowledgeable, and suggested a perfect wine for the occasion as well.

While there’s almost nothing to recommend in Las Ramblas from a dining perspective, Louro stands out by a country mile. We’ll definitely be back.

Tel: 937 308 280


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Torre d’Alta Mar Restaurant

Typically you’d expect a restaurant in a historic tower with great views over a city to be little more than a tourist trap, but Torre d’Alta Mar goes much further.

Choose from a range of tasting menus or à la carte, and be prepared for some surprises from the kitchen.

I used to love the lunch menu, because you not only got a taste of the kitchen’s creativity for about half the price, but also enjoy the sweeping views of the city in the daylight.

Unfortunately, it looks as though that’s a thing of the past. I’m sure the food’s of a similar quality in the evenings, and if you arrive early enough you’ll see it in the daylight – at least when the days are longer.

So while I once gave this place a solid recommendation, I’m personally waiting to see whether the lunchtime menu makes a return. When that happens, I may well do so too.

Tel: 93 221 00 07


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