Molecular gastronomy is all the rage in Spain today, but this Catalan restaurant in Sant Celoni, about 45 minutes by taxi outside of Barcelona, is as traditional as they come. There is an inexpensive train, but the restaurant is not especially close to the station and, depending on the length of your meal, there may not be a return scheduled late enough. And because enduring a 45-minute taxi ride at 1am after a meal at one of the best restaurants in Spain is somewhat anticlimactic, we recommend that you instead spend the night at the smallest Relais & Châteaux in the world next door.
The restaurant is rustic, with stone, exposed wood beam ceilings and arched doorways, but it also has starched white tablecloths and a modernized kitchen as well as a contemporary, minimalist dining room. The service is exceedingly gracious (we were over an hour late but were received warmly) and professional.
The beginning of a meal brings amuse bouches and a basket of divine olive, country and bacon bread. There are a variety of local traditional recipes on the menu, such as salt cod tripe, pork neckfat steamed with caviar and an excellent shrimp ravioli, a carpaccio with cepe mushrooms that is one of the specialities of the house. Can Fabes sources its seasonal produce locally from the Montseny region and the Mediterranean. There is fish from Blanes, mushrooms and lamb from the Montseny, truffles from Osona, peas and strawberries from the Maresme, rice from the Ebro delta.
Head chef Santi Santamaria, who was born in the 300-year-old building that houses the restaurant and which has been owned by his family for over 2/3rds of that time, died in February 2011 while in Singapore. In the 2012 Michelin Guide, the restaurant was stripped of its third star. Our meal took place in June 2011 and, while we found the service and atmosphere to be three-star worthy, we agree that the food was not the equal of any of the three star restaurants in NYC. It was still a very fine meal and a deeply luxurious experience, however, and we think it is worth a pilgrimage the next time you visit Barcelona.
Note: Sadly, this restaurant closed in August of 2013. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jul/18/el-raco-de-can-fabes-barcelona-restaurant
Carrer de Sant Joan, 6
34 93 867 28 51 Wed-Sat, 1:30pm-3:15pm, 8:30pm-10:30pm, Sun, 1:30pm-3:15pm
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- Tasting Menu 9 Course Tasting Menu: €135 9 Course Tasting Menu: €175 Surprise Tasting Menu: €165 Surprise Tasting Menu with Wine Pairings: €215