Barcelona is right next to the ocean. There is a huge seaport filled with cruise ships as well as industrial ships. It’s no surprise, then, that seafood is a big part of the cuisine.
When I told my chef friend Tracy Chang (who, by the way, has soft-opened her new restaurant PAGU this week!), about my Sunday/Monday restaurant dilemma, she suggested one of her favorite restaurants, Espai Kru, which happened to be open on Sundays. The restaurant focuses on raw preparations of seafood (“kru” means raw in Spanish).
Unfortunately for us, Espai Kru was not open on Monday, the day we wanted to go there. However, their sister restaurant Rias de Galicia, a more casual version that still serves phenomenal seafood, but more in the traditional Catalan style, was open.
The environment at Rias de Galicia is friendly. The servers speak English, and they have an English menu. The environment is pleasant, but not stuffy. Most diners were dressed smart casual.
I was thrilled to see that there was crossover between the two restaurants’ menus. Items from Espai Kru (e.g., the raw seafood items) were marked with an asterisk indicating they were from the sister restaurant. There were also many more traditional Catalan dishes. It was hard to choose, but we ended up getting a few items from each section. It was our way of sampling Espai Kru without actually being able to visit the restaurant.
The menu is rather extensive. There are tasting menus (80 Euros or 95 Euros) which allow you to sample many of their best dishes. You can also order a la carte, and the last page has several appetizers and entrees consisting of various seafood that can be grilled according to several different styles.
Finally, there is an entire two pages worth of small plates. Bryan and I decided we didn’t quite have the stomach space or time for the tasting menu, so we opted to order several small plates to share from that section.
They began by serving us complimentary crackers topped with a smoked fish mousse.
The server highly recommended the Shrimp and Crab Croquette (3 Euros a piece), which was very flavorful, yet quite rich and a tad greasy. I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t imagine eating more than one.
Next, from the Espai Kru menu, we ordered Galician Blue Lobster and Wild Sea Bass Tartare, topped with caviar (33 Euros). Looking back, I should have listened to the server when he told us he preferred the other lobster dish, a lobster salad made from cooked lobster, mango, and avocados. This dish was fresh and executed well, but just did not really blow me away with the flavors.
I couldn’t taste much flavor in the lobster or even the caviar. Their flavors were unfortunately drowned out by the very heavy-handed sour dressing. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t seem worth the cost of using such expensive ingredients considering I couldn’t really taste the them that much.
The Lettuce Salad with bonito (skipjack tuna) belly, roasted red peppers, and a green chili vinaigrette (15.50 Euros) was quite pleasant.
The roasted red peppers and tuna were served on the side, so we could add as much or as little as we wanted. Hee hee, like my attempt at making a heart?
Cuttlefish and sea cucumber bomba
From the “cooked” section of the menu, we ordered a “Bomba” rice with sea cucumber and Mediterranean cuttlefish (32 Euros). Bomba is a Spanish rice similar to Arborio that is typically used in making paella. Bryan and I had never had sea cucumber in any application other than in Chinese cuisine, so we were very curious to see what it was likely.
The dish was very flavorful and we loved the texture of the rice. However, we actually had a hard time figuring out which was the sea cucumber. Cooked sea cucumber Mediterranean style is so different from the Chinese style we had a hard time recognizing it. Instead of being gelatinous in texture, this sea cucumber was more firm (still tender, but firm) and was white in color, which really reminded us of squid.
A special bomba spork!
We eventually concluded that the white tender bits were sea cucumber, and the more firm, chewy cubes in the rice were small pieces of cuttlefish.
In any event, this dish was very good, probably one of our favorites from the meal.
We decided not to order dessert, but they did give us some complimentary mignardises, a sweet chocolate cup filled with chocolate cream and a lovely sunflower brittle (yum!).
All in all, the restaurant makes excellent food.
I wonder if it's worth focusing more on the “cooked” side of the menu. At least in our limited experience, we were not as impressed with the “kru” dishes at this Catalan restaurant. I am sure Espai Kru is phenomenal (we shall find out in a future post from when Bryan goes there by himself), but we were most impressed with the cooked dishes here at Rias de Galicia.
Rias de Galicia
Carrer de Lleida, 7, 08004