See videos of my experience at El Celler de Can Roca and more...
Address: C/ de Can Sunyer, 48, 17007 Girona, Catalonia, Spain
Mon & Sun; Closed
Tue – Sat; 12:30pm-2:30pm, 7:30pm-9:30pm
Must try dish: Feast Menu
Website: El Celler de Can Roca
This ever evolving restaurant from the three Roca brothers has twice been voted the world’s number 1. We’ll take you through the 2022 menu, prices, and how to actually make a reservation.
Need to know
Almost a year after making our reservation, it was finally time to see what all the fuss was about. At the time of booking there was excitement. That fades through out the year as you forget about it. But it picked up again drastically as we got out of our taxi, walked passed the famous sign outside, through an almost pitch black alleyway that leads into a beautiful patio seating area, in front of the old brick building, and with views into the modern dining area through its glass walls.
The restaurant is a collaboration between brothers Joan Roca (Chef), Josep Roca (Sommelier) and Jordi Roca (Pastry Chef). First opened in 1986 next to their parents restaurant in Girona, they later moved to the current location, a short distance away, in 2007.
The menu starts by NOT starting. In which I mean, before any of the items from the Feast menu arrive, 17, yes 17, appetizers are slowly brought to your table. I’m going to show you every one of those dishes, and I’ll give you my opinion on each. So, let’s get started.
The first 4 appetizers arrive together, and we’re told the order in which to consume them in. They include an “escudella” in clay oven, vegetable aspic and pickles with an escudella broth, a truffle brioche, and sitting on the spoon is Bruna cow’s fresh milk cream from Formatgeria le Xiquella with veal and truffle consommé.
“more flavour than any I’ve had before”
The second set to arrive includes 5 food items, sitting on a piece of wood, that also tells a story of the restaurant’s history with dates. The first date is 1986, the year the restaurant was founded. And the food is a Poularde cannellone.
The Caesar’s mushroom tartalette next. 1998 – The year younger brother, and award winning pastry chef, joined the kitchen team.
2007 – The year the restaurant moved to it’s current location. And this time we have a truffle cream, egg yolk and bacon.
The final item on this board is the blue crab fritter. We were advised to eat it all in one go, as it contains liquid. The year is 2020, a time in which the menu went though an extensive change of direction.
“a surprise on the tongue, and so refreshing”
Three completely different spoons arrive next, containing the next 3 items. From bottom to top (the order in which they should be consumed) is a prawn marinated with rice vinegar, head juice & crispy prawn legs seaweed velouté on the wooden spoon, an Olivada, including aloreña, cordobesa, cornicabra, Kalamata & Verdial with piparra, and finally on the top spoon is spring pickles with walnut “romesco” sauce.
The first dish not accompanied by any others is the kale with anchovy and truffle.
I’ve never had the famous Catalan calçots looking this elegant before. Razor clams with calçot is up next. If you want to see what calçots usually look like then check out my article on the best calçots in Barcelona here.
Crustacean velouté with caviar now. And, we’ve still got another 2 dishes after this one before we even start the actual Feast menu.
The last two before the menu for real starts arrive together. Oyster with game, Palo Cortado and truffle in an attractive white bowl, and a Foie nougat with hazelnuts and cocoa. You start with the oyster and then onto the foie.
We’re now brought 3 different types of homemade bread before the main dishes arrive. A tomato bread with sultanas, a farmhouse brown bread and a crispy puff pastry type of bread.
So now it’s time for the Feast menu to begin. And it opens with a vegetable surf and turf, consisting of different seaweeds, herbs and flowers.
“the flavour is enticing”
Beautifully presented is the Swiss chard with Iberian fat emulsion. Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable. Here they’ve compressed them into three cubes and created a pickle and a sauce for each. Amontillado sherry, candied garlic and l’Escala anchovy.
Grinfola frondosa, known as the dancing mushroom in Japan, is a type of fungi that grows at the bottom of trees. Here it is accompanied with chestnut, onion and clove consommé, yuzu puree, pine vinegar gel, orange, grapefruit and lime wedges, grilled chestnut, soy sauce and more mushrooms.
Next up is the celeriac and pear, with a smoked celeriac purée, caramelized cream, roasted celeriac broth, crunchy celeriac sprouts, tarragon, coffee, pickled celery, pickled rhubarb, candied anise and some sherry vinegar. What is celeriac? It comes from the same plant as celery, grown for the edible root.
Beetroot tartare, prepared in 5 different ways. Including a smoked tartare, with walnut milk, a stalk tarte and a chutney (the yellow one).
A revered vegetable in Catalonia, here we have the candied artichoke heart, with artichoke vermouth sauce, mustard sauce, beurre noisette sauce, oloroso emulsion and artichoke petals.
We enter a seafood journey starting with Pickled sea urchin. It’s joined by potato and ‘tan’ purée, pickled egg plant seeds, charcoal-grilled sweet potato, bottarga, Ibarra chilli pepper seeds, coriander purée, saffron “allioli”, red seaweed, sea grape seaweed, vinegar jelly, lemon zest and nasturtium flowers.
We continue the main course seafood journey with a langoustine with sagebrush plant, vanilla oil and toasted butter. The langoustine, also known as the Norway lobster or large prawn is one of the most important crustaceans in Europe.
“decent size, meaty and succulent”
We conclude the seafood dishes with turbot prepared in three different ways. Top right in the photo above is the charcoal-grilled turbot fins with a pilpil of oxalis flower. Bottom centre is the turbot carpaccio with grapefruit and black olive tartar. And finally top left is the turbot supreme confit with garlic oil.
We start the meats with lamb cooked 5 different ways. Each comes with it’s own mini side dish. From top to bottom we have Suckling lamb stew with couscous of celery, basil and cardamom. Next is the suckling lamb sweetbreads with capers in sherry vinegar and couscous of celeriac, mint and liquorice. Third is pickled suckling lamb trotters and brains with couscous cauliflower and aniseed. Then suckling lamb belly in its juice with couscous of apple, tarragon and cinnamon. Finally, sautéed lamb loin in it’s juice and couscous of cucumber, fennel and pink pepper.
The last main course of the evening is this delightful poularde pithivier with truffle and fresh herb sauce. A poularde is a type of chicken over 120 days old which has never laid eggs. This creates a softer and more refined and rich taste. And the pithivier is a French method of creating a round type of pastry pie, with fillings such as meat or vegetables.
To start the desserts we have the Rain forest. A cloud is created from distilled mushrooms and positioned over the dish, resulting in droplets to fall on the black trumpet ice-cream with pine honey, black trumpet, dust and pine dust and crunchy leaves of cocoa and pine dust below. Creating an atmosphere similar to a damp forest in the morning. Jordi Roca, the pastry chef, was inspired by his morning walks with his dog.
More fun now with this ball pool dessert from the younger brother Jordi Roca. Crack open the ball of hand-blown sugar to get to the multicoloured ice-cream balls inside. The filling includes cream of roses, lychee, caramel sphere with caramelized apple and 11 types of ice-cream. The ice-cream balls are mint, basil, fennel, passion fruit, raspberry, coconut, blueberries, apricot, guava, lime and blackberry.
To end the Feast menu we are served a vanilla cream with walnut praline. The other ingredients include tobacco gelée, green orange, caramelized walnuts with spices & spiced sponge cake, and toasted butter ice-cream.
The menu may be over, but there’s more to come. The famous Can Roca dessert trolley, with all it’s Petit Fours, is wheeled to every table at the end of the meal. We were given 10 different petit fours to enjoy with our coffee. They included mini oreo cookies, chocolate cookies pineapple squares with coconut, chocolate nuts and the Ferrero Rocher style hazelnut chocolate gold balls.
In conclusion, the whole experience was well worth the almost 1 year wait. The food is creative and innovative. I also loved the venue itself, the way every table is spaced out from the others, creating your own little environment to enjoy the whole culinary adventure. We learnt there are 60 members of staff in the kitchen, 30 per shift. The service is outstanding, both friendly and formal. You’re made to feel very welcome. We saw two of the brothers during the evening. Josep Roca visited each table at the start to say hello and posed for photos with some customers. Pastry chef Jordi Roca was at reception as we left. A great end to a truly enjoyable evening.
As well as one of the best fine dining restaurants in the world, the Roca brothers also have other establishments in Girona, Barcelona and as far a field as Madrid.
Very close to the famous Eiffel Bridge in Girona is the location for their first and fun ice-cream shop Rocambolesc. You’ll find a wonderful variety of creative ice creams and chocolates.
A short walk away form Rocambolesc is Casa Cacao. An upmarket boutique hotel opposite the river with a beautiful roof terrace and chocolate workshop on the ground floor.
Next door to Casa Cacao is Bar Cacao. A cafe and coffee shop that serves savoury and sweet delights and great coffee.
If you want to try one of their famous desserts, but can’t make it out to Girona, don’t fret. There is a Rocabolesc ice-cream shop on Las Ramblas in the centre of Barcelona. They have the same creative confectionaries as in the Girona store, like the ice lolly nose and the golden hand. As well as boxes of chocolates, chocolate bars, and something called a panet. A panet is ice-cream and toppings in a brioche style pastry, which is then compressed and heated in a special machine. It’s hot, cold, and absolutely delicious.
And if you’re in Madrid, the Roca brothers also have you covered. In the famous foodie market San Miguel, in the centre of the city is where you’ll find this Rocabolesc outpost. It’s actually at this location that I tried my first panet.