This is part 11 of the series on San Sebastian, Girona, and Barcelona, Spain. Other parts of this series (as they become available) can be found at this link.
Although El Celler de can Roca (#1 Restaurant in the World 2013, 2015) may overshadow other restaurants in Girona, I can’t emphasize enough how impressed we were with the food in Girona. We ate dinner at 1-Michelin starred Massana our first night in Girona and we were utterly blown away by the quality of the food as well as the amazing value of the meal.
Massana is unique in some ways. This family-owned restaurant has been around for over 30 years and the Chef-owner Pere Massana is a self-taught cook and never formally trained at brand name, award winning high end restaurants. Nevertheless, despite having been in this business for 30+ years, he continues to innovate, experiments, and develop the restaurant’s direction.
The restaurant offers both tasting menus and a la carte options, which I really like. Sometimes it’s nice to have the option to eat a shorter, quicker, or smaller meal. At the same time, it was not a hard decision for our whole table to choose the tasting menu. It just looked a lot more interesting, and - I suspect - has a lot more of the creative, experimental dishes. The menu says that a tasting menu has to be enjoyed by the entire table. Thankfully, we all wanted the “Gourmet Menu”, which is their tasting menu.
We started out with a bunch of small bites. The gazpacho Gaudi (likely named after the famous Spanish artist), reflected art with its frozen vegetable-jeweled “ice cube” over which a creamy gazpacho was poured.
A single slice of cured Rubia Gallega (Spain’s most famous cows) was modernized with a few spherified balls of sauce.
Salmon cream with ajo blanco was flavorful and hit the spot. A re-invented Waldorf Salad appeared in the form of a sweet celery macarons served with an apple slice, walnut, and cream. Marinated mussels were super fresh and absolutely delicious with lime and coriander.
Croquetas filled with Iberian pork, kim chi, and mint was interesting, though it did not stand out to me.
Quail rillette served on “cereal bread” was pleasant, while the single Hokkaido oyster with hibiscus and flowers was juicy, sweet, and oh-so fresh and delicious.
A standout dish was the cold duck foie gras “chocolate bar” served with a house made cracker topped with frehs corn, corn nuts, and flowers. We were instructed to stack the cracker on top of the chocolate and enjoy it in one bite.
It was a lovely bite, both sweet and savory, crunchy and soft, cold and room temperature. Even though I don’t particularly like foie gras that much, I did love this dish.
Another phenomenal dish that I think is another signature dish is the wild mushroom carpaccio with marinated shrimp and white truffles from Spain served with a pine nut vinaigrette. The mushrooms were sliced insanely thinly, just like paper. The server told us to roll up the paper-thin mushroom slices to wrap the shrimp and white truffles. It was fantastic.
A single ravioli filled with vegetables and served with a creamy herb sauce on the outside was a clever reversal of what we usually expect in a ravioli (filled with cheese).
The next course, a lacquered eel (their local eel), was extremely soft reminiscent of Japanese anago. It was also served with a slightly sweet sauce, along with Iberico pork, (yum!), strawberry, and pickled vegetables (baby onion, cucumber, carrot).
The wild sea bass came in a seafood "fumet" (fish broth) with barely cooked shrimp, oyster, and baby vegetables.
I often don’t look forward to the later courses because they are often rich, filling, and sometimes are land meats that I don’t like as much as seafood. I would normally think a duck dish would be like this, but I absolutely loved their Tribute to Massana's Duck Magret (1986), ultra thin slices of what we internally called a world changing duck "jamon" because it reminded us of jamon Iberico, but made with duck. It was soooo good! The slices were accompanied with herbal oil and pear with rosemary.
The only “surprise” part of the meal was dessert. We were told to each pick a fruit at the beginning at the meal. At the end, our “fruits” came in the form of chocolate fruits that broke open to reveal ice cream inside! The desserts were pleasant, though not at the same level as the ones we had enjoyed earlier in the week. Still, they were fun and we still enjoyed the desserts very much.
We ended the meal with gold chocolate truffles made from 70% creamy bon bon and speculo (a spiced cookie).
General Thoughts - Massana Girona Spain
Honestly, we were all very pleasantly surprised by this meal. At only 116 Euros a person (and 50 Euros for the wine pairing), this meal was a *steal* for the quality that it offered. Standout courses for me included the foie gras “chocolate” sandwich, the wild mushroom carpaccio, and the duck magret.
The people in Girona are very, very fortunate. Our entire table agreed that this restaurant was one of the best values on our trip, with excellent food at a very reasonable price. Highly, highly recommended.
Carrer Bonastruc de Porta, 10, 17006