Rias de Galicia

(If you are reading this post on a RSS reader, you might want to click through to Chez Pim for the slideshow.

What does it tell you when you sit down to dinner at a restaurant and, a few minutes later, one of the most famous chefs in the world comes in and sit down at the next table? It says this is gonna be good, this time at least.

No, this wasn’t at some fancy do. It wasn’t planned, even. It was at a random restaurant, on a random night, entirely by accident.

Well, I supposed it’s not so random. The town was Barcelona. The night was Monday, when most other places are closed. And the place was arguably the best seafood restaurant in town. The chef wasn’t random either. Half of you probably guessed who it was already. Yes, none other than Ferran Adrià.

And, no, I’m not about to recount a seafood dinner with spherical langouste or pulpito espuma -not that oyster dirt wouldn’t be fun once in a while, I guess. But you won’t find any modern wizardry or technique here. No Centrifuge. No chemical additives. Nor will you find italics or "quotation marks" on the menu, I promise you.

This place is simple, supremely simple, and brilliantly so. It’s called Rias de Galicia. I first thought it meant the joy of Galicia or some such approximation. Me no speako Espagnol. Happily Wikipedia (and my friend Pedro) rescued me from saying such outlandish a thing on my blog for all to see. In fact, the rias of Galicia were once river valley and estuaries that are now covered by the risen seawater. It’s that special geographic characteristic of the Galician coast -where the Cantabrian sea meets the vast Atlantic ocean- that makes it such a fertile area for seafood.

The restaurant lives up to the reputation that night. And, no, it has nothing to do with Ferran Adria telling us that this was his favorite seafood place in town. It helps, I give you, but the food speaks for itself too. The only not so great –and not entirely unexpected- thing is the price also speaks quality here. Quite Loudly So. Our meal costs nearly 700 euros, for the four of us, me, David, Pedro, and another Barcelona friend, the blogger known as the Silly Disciple. It’s a light meal, and frankly David and I could have put that entire thing away ourselves had we been just a tad ravenous.

But thinking back to the food -gelatinous octopus, so fresh it practically quivers on the plate, or those hard to find Angulas, mini elvers or baby eels, impeccably fresh, fried simply in a casuela with olive oil and a few slivers of garlic- I can hardly hold my grudge. We also had sweet, sweet oysters, flavorful corrugated clams, mini pulpitos, cooked until tender and served on top of potatoes, and a big plate of amazingly flavorful prawns adorn only with a wedge of lemon. Yes, and how could I forget the delicious if messy Percebes. My delicate white linen summer dress won’t forget it either.

It’s definitely the best seafood meal I’ve had in Barcelona. Though I still won’t put it pass my favorite Elkano yet –I still dream of that Turbot- but that’s beside the point since Getaria -where Elkano locates- is like way up in the Basque country. Next time I’m in Barcelona and want a seriously seafood meal I’ll be back again at Rias de Galicia, wearing a raincoat over my nice white dress, and hi-fiving Ferran Adria on the way in.

Rias de Galicia
Calle Lerida, 7
Barcelona, 8004
Phone, 93-423-45-70

P.S. Mark Bittman wrote about Rias de Galicia last week for the NY Times. No, I didn’t go there because of that recommendation, we’d already come and gone by then.

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18 Responses to “Rias de Galicia

  • Mary said:
    June 13th, 2007 at 12:37pm

    I love that place, but sadly have only been able to go once. I first ate percebes at the end of doing the Camino de Santiago as part of a huge seafood meal, they were so sweet and so unexpected. I also had pulpo at a restaurant that only served that and pitchers of white wine, it was rustic but fantastic. Looks like your trip to Barcelona was (is?) a good one.

  • veron said:
    June 13th, 2007 at 1:40pm

    love the look of those tentacles…I can imagine myself munching on those right now.

  • Stephen said:
    June 13th, 2007 at 1:49pm

    That sounds and looks amazing. I am so very jealous! Did you get to talk to Ferran Adrià? He is one of my heroes. -S

  • Jeremy said:
    June 14th, 2007 at 2:31am

    700 euros for 4! That’s crazy money! When I went to El Bulli two years ago, our menu was 155 euro per person, cheaper than Rias de Galicia, had it not been for the 5 bottles of wine we had along with the meal. It looks like some parts of Barcelona can make Paris, New York and Tokyo look cheap… Who knew? I’m going to take up fishing and become a multi-millionaire.

  • Marona said:
    June 14th, 2007 at 6:46am

    Oh my God! I am soooo jealous!!!! When the picture of that “pulpo a la gallega” apeared in my screen I almost cried! Lucky you!
    I’m from Barcelona but I live now in Salzburg (Austria) and I miss soooo much the seafood… snif!

  • Dave Somerville said:
    June 14th, 2007 at 9:07am

    That is some great looking seafood!
    700 euros for four doesn’t sound so bad as all that; on Tuesday night I spent 735 euros for just two people at Le Meurice.

  • Truffle said:
    June 15th, 2007 at 2:57am

    I have to tell you you blog has been the most invaluable source of late. I’m planning a trip to Barcelona in the next couple of weeks and your suggestions sound absolutely wonderful.

  • Juliette said:
    June 17th, 2007 at 9:13am

    Argh, I only wish I could have read all this before I went to Barcelona last year! It’s making me absolutely crazy with desire to go back!
    On a separate note, I’m very happy to see you back on track talking about food, which is why we all enjoy coming here. I do think it’s very important to support each other in exposing and ending plagiarism… but it’s true that it’s a slippery slope and can quickly turn fun, thoughtful people into an ugly lynching party. I was incensed along with everyone, but we do gotta move on sometime. 🙂

  • Maninas: Food Matters said:
    June 19th, 2007 at 4:15am

    Incredible! you make me want to eat octopus, which i normally hate! 🙂

  • Sebastián Damunt said:
    June 19th, 2007 at 4:58am

    Dear Pim:
    I discovered your blog a few month ago.
    Since then I have seen all your post.
    I even learned, throu your blog, how to use Flick. Well, a basic use.
    After seeing your photos from Rias de Galicia, I have to congratulate you sincerely.
    Sebastián Damunt
    In your Spanish coffees,
    you can add one from Cartagena.
    Café Asiático.
    Condensed milk
    Drop of brandy
    Drop of Licor 43
    Cinnamon powder

  • Mar said:
    June 21st, 2007 at 4:03am

    Rías de Galicia is one of the best undiscovered restaurants in Barcelona. I think it’s key to their success that they’ve never attempted to do anything too avangarde with ingredients that deserve a simple, loving treatment. For its decoration, you could mistake it for a business restaurant, the kind you go to seal a deal with. But it’s a lot, A LOT more. If you want to eat in a slightly cheaper version of it you could try A Cañota (if I’m not mistaken) which is next door, owned by the same person. Everytime we attend fairs at the nearby Barcelona fair I strive to eat there (the only means to keep my sanity!).

  • Ed said:
    June 25th, 2007 at 2:50pm

    700 euros seems contrary to the spirit of tapas to me. I was in Barcelona many years ago and stumbled on a small joint, hole in the wall affair, name of which is lost to me, where the propriator’s father made stuff on a portable gas stove, such as you take camping, in a small courtyard in the rear. If cooked selections weren’t yet available they would put cold, like marinated fish or anchovies, out while we waited, drinking and talking, for the next dish. Never more than four things on offer at a time. There came tripe, octopus, squid, simply boiled potatoes with garlic parsley and great olive oil, different sorts of shrimp, toasts with stuff on them, mystery meat balls … it was all wonderful and we could have eaten and drank there for a week for the equivalent of 700 euros. On my last morning in town I walked past the place as the owner, still looking a little puffy from the previous night, opened the metal shutters. He said hello with a wide smile.

  • maria luisa said:
    June 26th, 2007 at 9:25pm

    Wow, I would love visiting Rias, perecebes are very uggly, but I love them…
    They’re very difficult to get, many men die trying to get them in the sea rocks…

  • prayer said:
    July 22nd, 2007 at 11:10am

    lovely entry. seafood in barcelona is absolutely amazing!
    when i was going to school there i found a marisqueria hidden away on a street behind Mercat del Born called La Paradeta that serves low-key fresh seafood where you point and choose by the kilo and they cook it for you right there. nothing fancy but i remember having pulpitos for the first time there.
    well, certainly looks like rias is another place to look forward to one day when i go back to bcn! thanks for sharing.

  • Marlan Barry said:
    May 26th, 2008 at 5:21am

    Great call on adding the Café Asiático. My wife and I just retuned from the south of spain after two weeks and this was by far our favorite coffee beverage. Murcia is an unknown gem. Don’t forget the lemon peel though, it completes it.
    All the best,

  • agoodic said:
    March 23rd, 2010 at 1:12am

    I have to tell you you blog has been the most invaluable source of late. I’m planning a trip to Barcelona in the next couple of weeks and your suggestions sound absolutely wonderful.
    4gb mp4 player

  • ThierryKarine said:
    September 18th, 2010 at 9:25am

    Miam miam. Superbe, délicieux. VIVA GALICIA.

  • Rogkeithly said:
    September 20th, 2011 at 9:09pm

    we went to the rias de galicia this evening (9-20-11) on the recommendation of our hotel. we checked in at the restaurant and were immediately seated. after 20 minutes, we left. a number of the restaurant staff looked at us during that time but no one came to our table to do anything. they had more than enough staff but showed no interest in me and my wife. we reported the absence of service to the folks at the hotel  and they threw away the stack of rias de galicia restaurant cards they had at the front desk. 

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