The evening we arrived in Barcelona, Hubby exclaimed “We’re going fine dining!” Usually those two sweet words are music to my ears but this particular night, I cringed at the thought. I was still recovering from a bout of food poisoning so for the first time in Spain I wasn’t overtly interested in food. But since we only had 2 nights in Barcelona, and hubby wanted to go, I decided to soldiered on. After slipping into a Studio941 knit top and Peter Alexander silk dress worn as a skirt, we set off for Sergi de Meia. Although the 2.7 km journey couldn’t ‘walk up’ my appetite, I was instantly charmed by the restaurant. It was subtle, effortless and unpretentious. We actually walked past it the first time because it was so inconspicuous.
A farmhouse-like display of fragrant herbs in washable paper pots, a ‘Slow Food’ sign sitting centre stage on wooden crates, and two piles of Spanish cook books organised in a semi-haphazard manner set the scene. I knew I was walking into an organic, fresh, sustainable establishment.The waiter escorted us towards the back of the restaurant and presented us with an English menu. Don’t you love places that cater for tourists? He explained that the degustation menu is a ‘surprise’, it is different for every table. We only needed to specify our dietary requirements (nuts for hubby and nil for me) and the chef would create a 7 course tasting menu just for us. Even though I wasn’t hungry and had originally just wanted to order a la carte, I couldn’t pass up on an offer like this! So glad that I did because what followed was the best meal I’d had in Spain!Each dish was artfully presented, thoughtfully proportioned and skillfully created. The flavours were well-balanced, the meats were cooked to perfection and I didn’t feel stuffed by the end of dinner. We started with a delightful cucumber salad, it was so refreshing I downed it in seconds so didn’t get a chance to photograph it. But my phone got busy after that.
After the starters were served, Sergi de Meia actually came out of the kitchen to introduce himself. After learning that we were from Australia, he replied “Ah! I spent 1 year in Alice Springs!’ Sergi worked at the five-star Rydges Hotel as the head chef. He then told us more about himself, his 11 months old restaurant and his gastronomy philosophy.
Sergi spoke English really well. I think it was the first proper conversation we had with a Spaniad! Sergi’s mother is a chef and restauranteer. After spending his summer holidays working in her kitchen and acquiring a passion for cooking, he decided to follow in his mother’s footsteps. His mom, as chuffed as she was, commanded that he undertook serious culinary studies. So from the age of 14-18 he studied in Spain and France. After graduating with flying colours, Sergi was sent all over the world to work. He worked in Canada, Australia, and all over Europe before returning to Barcelona to open his own establishment.
Rooster and veal consomé with green peas, asparagus and red prawn. You’re probably wondering how I remembered all these dishes. I didn’t. Sergi, the chef wrote it down for us.
“Sard Reial”- rock wil fish with zuchinni and basil cream. The wild-looking vegetable is called “xicoia”, aka lion teeth, it only grows on the moutain tops and sprout after the snow.
Sergi is one of the pioneers for the organic food movement in Barcelona. “Food should come from nature”, Sergi is passionate about bringing the best flavours from the freshest produce, sourced locally, to the table. Thanks to his mom’s influence, his dishes are deeply rooted in Catalonian tradition, but with a modern and international twist. They created a cook book together – I told him that he needs to get it translated into English. His mother still comes to the restaurant to cook sometimes. It really is a family affair.
“I like simple food”, he says, but each dish of the degustation required a lot of time and skill to bring out their subtle aromas and flavours. He sources all his ingredients locally from regions of northern Spain, “it’s more environmentally sustainable.” The ‘tree’ sculpture standing at the back of his restaurant is from a dinner party he hosted recently, in collaboration with a local artist. Guests were treated to table settings of edible art – first a garden, then an underwater scene filled with seafood and finally a “tree” of dessert. Instead of being served individual plates, the diners could “forage” in the table settings for their food. Such creativity! To see more of that gastronomic experience, head over [HERE].
It was such a pleasure to dine at Sergi de Meia. Despite me being a little unwell beforehand, I think his meal literally brought me health and life! After writing down the menu for us, he even wrote a list of restaurant recommendations- all of his favourites in Barcelona. You know someone is confident in their craft when their speak highly of their competitors!
Sergi hopes that in terms of food, people would get back to their roots. “We were hunters and gatherers, we were fishers and grew our own vegetables. We need to get back to that experience.” The best food is home-grown, home-sourced and home-cooked, Sergi de Meia’s restaurant is testament to that!