I chose Cinc Sentits (Spanish for Five Senses) for our celebratory meal in Barcelona based on feedback that the chef was doing interesting and delicious cooking but not so “interesting” that the food would confuse palates not used to some of Spain’s more progressive cuisine. We arrived right when the restaurant opened just like the good Norte Americanos that we are and were promptly seated. The space had a modern vibe to it but still felt inviting due to the service. We went with the Essencia menu since Mr. Milton was paying for our entire party! Now on to the food!
"Tapas" - House-marinated gorbal olives, honey and "sobrassada" bastons, five spiced "marcona" almonds. Nothing really to write home about unfortunately. Although all were tasty, none were particularly outstanding.
Now this little "shooter" on the other hand was absolutely delicious. It consisted of maple syrup (a nod to the chef's upbringing in Canada), chilled cream, cava sabayon (a nod to the chef's Spanish parents), and rock salt. At first the richness of the the cream hit, followed by sweetness from the maple syrup, and then finished with a bit of salinity from the rock salt. A truly great one sip. The olive oils that were poured were delicious as well, our favorite being the one pictured on the right. Very vibrant and peppery, it promoted quick consumption of the crusty bread that was served. Suffice it to say, my brother ate a whole loaf of bread on his own...
Mackerel with celery root, apple, and onion - Perfectly cooked mackerel that had the clean oiliness but none of the stinkiness that plagues less than ideal mackerel. A bread crust gave a beautiful crunch for textural contrast while the celery root, apple and onion lended some sweetness to the dish.
The olive oil on the right was the one described earlier. The olive oil on the left was less peppery but delicious nonetheless. We were ecstatic when we found a bottle at El Corte Ingles and bought it to bring back home.
Pork chin with wild mushrooms, chestnut cream - The clear star of the dish were the mushrooms as they were perfectly caramelized. The dish suffered due to the dryness of the pork chin. This was the first time I started regretting not ordering the Sensacions menu as the dishes coming out of the kitchen looked amazing and much more complex.
Free-range egg with anchovy cream, "botifarra" blood sausage, shoestring potato - Creamy, umami, salty and crunchy. Like all soft cooked eggs, this one ended much too quickly. Only downside was I didn't really taste the sausage all that much (probably due to the stronger flavors of the anchovy.)
Salt cod tripe rice with spring peas, honey crisp - Held some similarities to the Cantonese dish salt fish and chicken fried rice but also different due to the creamy nature of the rice and sweet slight crunch of the peas. The honey crisp served more as a form of entertainment than adding actual flavor.
My brother crunching through the honey crisp. Notice the shards flying!
I can't seem to find the photo for the previous course (Pork loin with shallot, mustard-truffle crisp, clove-orange glaze - It was tasty but I really wish the pork were fattier and thicker since this dish was similar to thin sliced meat with gravy. Tasty but not amazing. Maybe that's why I can't find the picture...) This dessert wasn't too bad either. Tasted like most of the pear and ice cream desserts I've had that were accented with a little spice.
Some of the theater at Cinc Sentits involved the after dinner hot towel for wiping our hands. I think more and more restaurants have started doing this but this was the first time we'd seen this little "show". The little pill of a towel was plumped up and warmed with a dash of hot water. I suddenly reminisced back to my childhood days when we had little sea animals that would come to life once we dropped them in water.
Another part of the show was the folding of napkins. Most restaurants fold napkins when a patron goes to the restroom. Cinc Sentits takes it to another level by doing it with clean silverware! That's got to count for at least 4 Michelin stars on it's own (note - yes, I am aware that a restaurant can only earn a maximum of 3 Michelin stars!) The petit fours were just average and again nothing really stood out.
All in all, Cinc Sentits had some nice dishes but the Essencia menu clearly paled in comparison to the Sensacions menu. Cinc Sentits probably could do itself a favor by dropping the Essencia menu altogether as not too many dishes to be noteworthy. The service, space, and cooking were all very polished. The only problem is the food lacked much spark. Truth be told, the shooter at the start of the meal was probably our favorite part of the meal.