Pure Adventures self-guided cycling tours allow travelers the opportunity to experience a region’s cuisine and restaurants at their own pace and taste, unlike group tours that may choose dining options for you. With a culture rich in gastronomy and Spain offers unrivaled restaurant choices — and sometimes it is hard to know where to go! With local expert and Pure Adventures guide Bo Lohmann residing in Girona, the guess work of picking the perfect place for a meal is eliminated — Bo has dined at many of the top restaurants.
Foodies have long regarded El Celler de Can Roca as the best restaurant in all of Girona, and year after year, it has ranked as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world by Forbes, Trip Advisor and Restaurant magazine. Waiting lists to dine at El Celler de Can Roca are often a year long — rarely can lucky diners secure an invitation to share a meal with friends who have been on a waiting list! Bo recently dined at El Celler de Can Roca and offers an exclusive Q&A with Pure Adventures about this celebrated Spanish restaurant.
What prompted you to go there?
With Celler de Can Roca’s reputation as one of the best restaurants in the world, dining there is something that I wanted to try once — especially since it is right where we live in Girona. It was a special occasion dinner with my wife, and we made the reservations 12 months in advance.
What do locals say about the food?
It depends. Locals do go here as it’s become very hard to get a reservation — up to one year waiting list although they changed the booking system. In spite of the recession as Spaniards keep spending money in food, going out and other such things, but Celler de Can Roca attracts more travelers than it does local residents.
What was your favorite experience of the night?
The staff gave us a tour through the kitchen and showed us the different work rooms and explained some of the machines for their molecular cooking process. Then one of the Roca brothers himself showed us the cellar! Some of the courses (there were 20 in the menu we selected) were very good.
What was the most memorable dish? Most forgettable dish?
Most memorable — the prawn. Most forgettable — Calçots. This is because Calçots is a traditional Catalan food that’s best enjoyed outdoors as it’s a meal with BBQ’d onions and meat — it gets filthy with everyone dirty and black faces. A restaurant — and especially in a restaurant like this one — is clearly not the right place for it. The two meat dishes as well were forgettable.
What menu did you choose? Would you have chosen differently?
You can choose between the Classic Menu and the Festival Menu (more courses, see attached picture), that’s it. We chose the Festival Menu to try it all, including “maridatge,” meaning that you get to try a different wine with each course. It took us about 40 minutes to eat ourselves through the appetizers! After about two hours and before finishing the last starters we began feeling tired and realized that this may be the experience of a lifetime but we are not food lovers enough or just incapable to appreciate high cuisine enough.
Would you tell clients to eat at El Celler de Can Roca?
Only if they are gourmets. I could recommend at least five other restaurants where they spend less and will enjoy a meal they won’t forget. Personally, I think it’s more an event than a meal. My conclusion is: You can have a fantastic meal in many other places in Girona for a small fraction of the money you spend at this restaurant. I can compare it from other high-standard restaurants in the area because I’m trying them for our tours and customers (I would mention La Plaça in Madremanya and Sa Punta in Platja de Pals, for example). It’s not a disappointment or regretting to have spent an important amount of money. Maybe I expected more or maybe I expected the experience to be more memorable after almost one year waiting for the meal. I think it’s become some sort of celebrity thing and a place where you should go if you get the chance, no matter how and that it has to be good.