Mercat Barcelona Gastrobar on Telawi 3 Bangsar.
Walked past this Spanish restaurant several times but this was our first time venturing in. Mercat is Catalan language for Market so before you read this post further you have an idea of what to expect when dining here.
Esqueixada de Bacalla which is in fact a Classic Catalonian raw Spanish cod salad (RM25)
First off, let us say that there is so much more to Catalan cuisine than first meets the eye – think less paellas and chorizo and more butifarra and fideuas.
And of course those that are familiar with Spain know that it is renowned internationally for food and the culture of eating. In recent years, the new wave of experimental gastronomic chefs, such as Ferran Adria (the founder of El Bulli restaurant), has certainly put the country on the foodie map.
We looked at the menu and noticed some distinctly different tapas items – exciting as it wasn’t your run of the mill menu. Most of them were characteristic of tapas from the region of Catalonia, in northeastern Spain and adjoining parts of France.
Boquerones en Vinagre or fresh anchovies cured with vinegar served with roasted peppers (RM22)
The food came and we were really impressed. Each dish had a unique taste, and of course Chef David Caral put his own unique spin on it, so the afternoon unravelled in a most memorable fashion. The typical feature of Catalonian cuisine is the combining of ingredients from the sea and the mountains. Loved the play on textures and flavours employing almonds, tomatoes, onions, eggplants, peppers, rice, pork (this place serves that .. YAY!) olives, anchovies, seafood, squid, and all kinds of fish. In general, Catalonian cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine – think loads of veggies, seafood, refreshing and light nuances in flavours.
Also, Mercat offers not just amazing tapas, but also a well stacked Gastrobar. They serve Spanish wines (0f course) and their gin tonic varieties are to die for I tell you. So many gins here and some made from unique Spanish labels. The bartender asked us what kind of gin flavors and mixes we preferred, then proceeded to stir up some great concoctions. Satiated with the two recommendations he cooked up. All Spanish Gin & Tonics were served with double shots of gin, just like they do in Spain apparently.
Gin Mare (RM70 double shots, RM39 single shot) – with basil and orange peel, Mascaro gin (RM80 double shots, RM42 single shot) – with thyme and juniper berry, and both were fabulous. @tummyleejones liked the Mascara Gin, heavier and strong, but my favourite was the Gin Mare – refreshing and light!
As for the food, we tried the following tapas and they were so gorgeously plated yet delightfully tasty, someone commented that Chef David belonged in a fine dining restaurant!
We had …
Jardin Esparragos Verdes (RM18) – Asparagus salad on a bed of crushed olives
A rather creative yet tasty dish where everything from the “soil” to the bed beneath was made from asparagus.
Pork Sliders (RM22) – Pork sliders with Manchego cheese, red peppers, roasted onion and brioche
Loved the hearty pork patties as well as the soft fluffy brioche…
Pollo al Ajillo (RM24) – Catalan-style chicken garlic stew
A true Catalonian dish… a robust garlic stew of chicken. The garlic packed a punch.
Morcilla terrine (RM26) – served with potato and apple compote. The morcilla is certified DO from Aranda de Duero, guaranteeing its superb quality.
Sweetbread and potato apple compote. Loved how the acidity of the apple tempered the rich sweetbread. This was to die for!
Pincho Moruno (RM23) – Spanish marinated pork skewers.
Another classic way of eating – Catalonian slather their bread in tomatoes… Loved the spicy pork skewers that went with it.
Arroz Plancha (RM52) – Crispy rice
Think paella with a twist. The crispy rice bed laced in truffle oil, is reconstructed to wrap around the seafood stock. Superbly moreish.
Salpicon de Marisco (RM25) – Seafood salad with avocado cream
Refreshing and tangy, but tempered with the rich creamy avocado, the prawns, baby lobsters and mussels were supremely bouncy and cooked al dente.
Esqueixada de Bacalla (RM25) – Classic Catalonian raw Spanish cod salad
This one was interesting. The cod fish is “pulled” off the bone of the fish, and everything from the diced tomatoes and onions to the cod, was raw. An amazing tapas dish, and a must order.
Espuma de Crema Catala (RM23) – Catalonian cream foam, a different take on the classic Crema Catalana dessert & Sandria (RM24) – Watermelon infused with Sangria
With Chef David Caral and his awesome desserts + Gin Tonics!
Wow, what a fabulous Spanish tapas experience. We would come here, again and again, no hesitation. Mercat Barcelona Gastrobar comes highly recommended!
51, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru,
59100 Kuala Lumpur