LAST YEAR'S POSITION 1
YEARS ON THE LIST 8
The complementary skills of the Roca brothers results in hospitality at its finest
El Celler de Can Roca is at heart a local family-owned restaurant rooted in the fiercely independent state of Catalonia. But at the same time, it has featured on this list for almost a decade – reaching the vaunted number one spot last year – and secured a global reputation for its gastronomic prowess.
Brothers Joan and Josep opened El Celler de Can Roca in 1986 alongside their parents’ simple restaurant in a working class suburb of Girona. In 2007 they relocated to the current premises up the road. By then Joan, a hugely accomplished chef, and wine aficionado Josep had been joined by their much younger sibling Jordi, who was forging his own stellar career as a pastry chef. The combination has proved to be a gastronomic holy trinity.
Guests entering El Celler de Can Roca immediately find themselves enveloped into a world of genuine hospitality. The 14-course culinary experience not only sees Catalan ingredients cooked with supreme precision, but that also stimulates diners’ senses, emotions and memories – whether via an evocative smell, an explosion of flavour or a visual trick. Some dishes are elaborate, such as a salad of sea anemone, razor-clam, cucumber and seaweed in escabèche, others are more straightforward; but each is beautifully balanced.
The food is matched with a mesmerising array of wines and Sherries, largely but not exclusively drawn from the Spanish peninsula. Diners in the 55-seat dining room will look into a triangular glass-walled garden in its centre, as the engaging but unobtrusive service continues serenely around them.