An exciting blend of Catalan and Mexican flavors!
Located inside the Casanova Hotel on Gran Via de Les Corts Catalanes in central Barcelona, Mexiterranée is a restaurant most tourists and locals miss. They shouldn’t because it’s truly a hidden gem.
The décor at Mexiterranée is sleek and modern, in step with the Casanova Hotel’s ultra-modern styling. There’s a main dining room as well as a private dining area, all smoked glass, reflective tables, and huge windows. And while the ambience is cool, it’s the food that’s really hot.
Under the brilliant guidance of chef and food and beverage consultant Juame Brichs (read more about Chef Juame’s A Taste of Spain culinary class and his RFT foodie profile), Mexiterranée has developed a unique blend of traditional Catalan and Mexican cuisines. Some of the dishes are pure Catalan or Mexican, while others combine ingredients or cooking styles from each culture.
Every night, they offer a nightly pre-fixe menu of starters, main course, dessert, and wine or other beverage for a reasonable 25 Euros (approximately $30). On the night we dined, the offering included appetizers like ceviche and cured ham and brie, a main dish of sea bass cooked on salt with roast potatoes and pico de gallo, and a dessert of pears with vanilla ice cream.
If your tastes go more toward small plates, they offer a wide selection of tapas and botanas (what they call appetizers in Mexico), that all reflect the marriage of Mexican and Spanish cuisines. Some of these include quesadillas with poblano, ham, and cheese; Iberian ham (the type Catalalonia is famous for); bread and tomato; seafood croquete; sopes with frijoles and chorizo; and some that combine both Spanish and Mexican cuisines like mushroom sicronizada, wheat tortillas filled with Mediterranean sausage, mushrooms, and cheese. They also offer several dinners, including confit duck, beef tenderloin, and Iberian pork.
Our waiter brought us a complimentary appetizer of warm, freshly fried chips and guacamole that was fresh and delicious. We split a buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad and we were glad we did. The salad, which was served with a variety of greens, peeled tomatoes, and thick slices of mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and a sweet balsamic, was more than enough for two people.
For our entrée, I chose the beef tenderloin with ratatouille, demi-glacé and Padron peppers and my companion ordered the Iberian pork with a marinade of ancho and guajillo chilis with roasted vegetables. Both were cooked a perfect medium rare. The beef, one and a half inches thick, was succulent and juicy and ranks as one of the best beef steaks this reviewer has ever eaten. It came on a bed of roasted ratatouille, whose vegetables had literally melted into a savory almost paste-like softness. A scattering of green Padron peppers, roasted in olive oil and sea salt, topped the dish, and brought a sweet contrast. The rich demi- glace added a crowning finish to a completely satisfying meal.
The Iberian pork dish was entirely a surprise. In the West, pork tends to be dry, but Iberian pork, expertly cooked like this was, is juicy and flavorful. The ancho and guajillo chili marinade gave the meat a satisfying smoky heat that was just right. The pork came on a bed of greens and roasted sweet red and green peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and sweet onion tossed with a delicate vinaigrette of olive oil and balsamic that added both an earthiness and lightness to the dish.
Although we were both satisfied, we couldn’t resist the restaurant’s dessert offerings, which included passion fruit with strawberry ice cream and strawberries; bittersweet chocolate cake with peanuts and gianduja ice cream; Mexican flan; tiramisu; and a selection of homemade ice creams and sorbets. I opted for the gianduja chocolate ice cream, a clean, rich chocolate-hazelnut flavor studded with tiny pieces of hazelnut. My companion, who is a serious lemon lover, got the lemon sorbet and was entirely satisfied with the intense lemon flavor that “wakes up your tongue and makes your mouth water.”
We dined at Mexiterranée on a weeknight and the restaurant wasn’t particularly busy. During the week, it’s primarily Casanova Hotel guests who frequent the restaurant and it’s a shame because locals are missing out on one of the city’s best culinary secrets. On weekends, Mexiterranée lowers its prices and throws open the doors with a Mexican fiesta that draws 60-80 diners each night. Local Barcelonians and visitors would do well to discover the incredible flavors that Mexiterranée has to offer. We did and it ranks as one of the best meals we had on our visit to Spain. — BH