When the waiter offered up bread, dipping oil, and a trio of colorful salts–from Australia, the Basque Country, and England–I nearly swooned. As he had done with every item, our guide deftly explained a bit about the food’s origins and how best to enjoy them. This bread, with a lofty crumb and golden crust, had been not only fermented but double fermented. My eyes bulged–I had been clumsily trying my hand at fermenting a starter and here was a masterpiece presented as if it were the easiest thing in the world.
While in Barcelona Andres and I wined and dined at Osmosis, another rec from friend Janel. She had sung its praises and we were persuaded to splurge. To simply call it “fantastic” or “delicious” would cheapen an experience that was, at heart, inspiring. As we explored dishes so artfully woven together, I wanted to become a chef and create imaginative, tongue-tickling dishes in my own kitchen. I wanted to delve deeper into ordinary ingredients like salt. And I most certainly wished that we had enough money to visit similar venues on any sort of regular basis.
Curiously, though, it was more about how the experience settled in my mind after we had left the restaurant. In the moment, I was immensely uncomfortable. The restaurant takes itself seriously, and so the whole evening was stiff with shoulders-back, sit-straight formality. It didn’t help that there weren’t any other diners in the room for an entire hour. With the silence and the attentive staff, I felt guilty and self-conscious thinking that the whole restaurant was waiting on us.
Truffled gnocchi in tomato sauce with cheese, monkfish, and black butifarra (Catalan sausage)
Ah but the food, the food! Why is there no distinction between an everyday restaurant and…this? The quality was sublime. The taste of pillowy gnocchi, of caramelized shallots, the salt, are something that Andres and I still roll over in our conversations. Even the pre-dinner olives, brought from Sicily and brined in-house, became multifaceted objects with individual personalities.
Duck in a curry sauce with sauteed apples and sunchoke
One thing that did not impress me was the liberal application of meat. Even the first, veggie-heavy course was topped off with duck. Why not let the vegetables shine through? Is it a sign of opulence to add meat? The menu changes every week, but from the restaurant’s website it seems that it’s always pretty carnivorous. If fish and meat is your weakness, this place would be a good bet for you.
Black pork (Secreto iberico) with a vermouth sauce, caramelized shallots and creamed potatoes
Dessert was again a wonderfully impressive affair, and by this point I was enjoying the main event and thinking slightly less about the hushed atmosphere. Before serving this last taste, the waiter whipped out a special silver comb–a comb!–to clear our table of bread crumbs. (I imagine you Michelin Star types are rolling your eyes at my ignorance right now.) Then, our final plate arrived, starring an egg-shaped oval of ice cream. Two black olives seemed a bewildering addition at first, but their anise taste convinced us that they should attend the sweet finale.
White chocolate ice cream with pumpkin seeds, oranges confit, candied orange peel, and olives marinated with anise
By the end of the meal, we were already pensive about what had come before. Andres comically presented his plan for how to implement the salt-trio idea at home: “You see, this one is French and comes from Carrefour. This one is Spanish and comes from Dia. And this last one is German, from Aldi.” For the first time that night my laughter bounced around the quiet restaurant. I was reminded that, whether the bill comes to 8 Euros or 80, the experience is just as important as who you share it with.
Osmosis offers two options: the 5-course set menu for 35 Euros, or a 7-course meal for 50. Our total for the 5-course meal, 1 glass of wine each, and bread came to 86 Euros. It was an unusual treat for us–both to have such an expensive meal, as well as to have a meal of such high caliber. Based on how often we have already referenced our experience, we won’t be forgetting this memorable meal any time soon.
Calle Aribau 100, Barcelona