The Financial Times’ food critic Nicholas Lander clearly has a penchant for Catalan gastronomy, to which his column is dedicated with increasing frequency. Lander reviewed the Villa Más restaurant in the Costa Brava bay of Sant Feliu de Guíxols, no more than an hour’s drive north of Barcelona.
Clearly, Lander was more than impressed not only by the cooking, but by the wine-pricing policy and the breadth of the cellar. The chef at Villa Más is Carlos Orta, a former DJ turned chef and a serious wine lover.
Typically, wine mark-ups in Spanish restaurants are far lower than in other countries. In Britain, France and America a mark-up of 200% is typical and 300% not uncommon, even in French wine villages where they are actually making the stuff. In Spain there is a different mindset and an enlightened 20-25% is normal.
According to Lander, the mark-ups at Villa Más are so generously slight that they are unrivalled anywhere. In addition, the breadth of the wine list at Villa Más is vast – there are 12 pages of whites and 14 of reds, and some great champagnes apart, with 8,000 bottles stored under the restaurant and another 4,000 bottles stored nearby.
Wine aside, the cooking at Villa Más is also world-class. In his review, Lander strongly praised a rice casserole with prawns of the kind which Catalonia excels at – nothing more than rice, prawns and a fish stock known as fumet. A simple dish such as this relies solely on the skill of the chef in marrying good, simple ingredients.
Catalonia, and Barcelona in particular, are wonderful places to enjoy this kind of seafood cooking. If you are visiting Barcelona, Villa Más is an easy day trip up the coast in a stunning part of the Costa Brava. The restaurant is open every day except on Tuesdays, and you can find more information about it, as well as their updated menu, on their website.
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