Who knew Barcelona’s finest restaurants all shut up tight on Sunday nights? Or for that matter, Mondays too? If you’ve made plans to be in the Catalan capital and they include either of those nights, you can rule out visits to any of the four restaurants Ferran Adrià (of the late-elBulli) has opened with his brother Albert (with two more on the way). Still, you’ve saved yourselves a trip to Paral-lel, the suburb where the brothers have set up shops. Of course, you can still find endless places that trade in Tapas for tourists, but if you want to eat something more than the fantastically-fried patates bravas, or a jamon sandwich, and wish for a real dinner beautifully presented and served, your options may be limited. Within those options, however, one shines brightly in the heart of hotel country: Etapes.
Etapes occupies an intimate space at Enric Granados 10. (Tel: +34 933236914) and you can make reservations online. It’s right off Avenida Diagonal within walking distance of the grand hotels on Passeig de Gracia. Despite its name, Etapes doesn’t serve tapas. The name is French for ‘steps’ as the restaurant is several steps down from the street. It’s a Montes family affair: Brother Pol is in the kitchen, brother Didac and his wife Luz in the front of the house. The place is completely unpretentious; you don’t come here for the décor, it’s the food that matters. You can order à la carte, but for a real taste of what the chef’s seasonal menus are about, there are two prix fixe options: a Chef’s Menu of six courses for €60 (about $67) with a €40 ($45) paring of five wines, and a €35 ($39) Tasting Menu with a €25 ($28) pairing of three wines. Each menu is completely different. When we visited, the Tasting Menu included a starter of salmon tartar with caviar, melon, and sea spaghetti; a fish course of Scallops and Iberian Pork Belly confit with oyster sauce; and a main course of slow-cooked lamb medallion with truffled parmentiere. For dessert, a creamy tiramisu brought the meal to an excellent finish.
The restaurant is also open for lunch, Monday to Friday, where it offers a set menu featuring seven dishes for €15.50. Service is, of course, compris. Etapes offers a great taste of Catalan cuisine that is well worth a visit on Sunday or any other night.