If you happen to visit Catalonia and fancy a little gastronomical break, I strongly recommend hitting the Agust Gastrobar Barcelona. Hands down one the best restaurants I have ever been to, if not the best ever.
The Agust Gastrobar Barcelona Setting ★★★★★
Conveniently located in El Raval (Central Barcelona), the restaurant is very tastefully decorated: the lighting, the beautiful flowers and plants, the wooden furniture… everything blends together perfectly to create a nice relaxing atmosphere.
The ground floor and the terrace are ideal to grab a drink and share a few appetisers, while the upper floor provides a bit more privacy and is thus more suited for a proper dinner with friends, or for a romantic date.
The Cocktails ★★★★★
The Agust Gastrobar has recently hired a new barman, Guillaume, who is a real cocktail specialist. There are 8 cocktails and 2 mocktails (alcohol-free) on the menu but guests can also ask for a custom cocktail or even a surprise (I initially asked for a tea lover drink).
Yours truly does not drink much alcohol so I focused on the mocktails: The “Matcha Sour” (Matcha tea syrup, lemon, apple and mint) and the “EA & the Flowers” (Rose syrup, jasmine, lavender, raspberries, cranberry and soda). I also had a taste of the chef’s favourite cocktail, the “Eastern Glory” (vodka, lychee, rose syrup and lemon) but do know that its powerful taste is not the faint of heart!
The tea lover in me is especially keen of the Matcha Sour: it’s the best of the lot and also the most aesthetically pleasing, I just love the rose petal on top! The EA & the Flowers is gorgeous as well, with a lily-shaped mint leaf but it’s also a bit too sweet for my taste.
The Starters ★★★★★
The restaurant encourages the guests to share several dishes together, in a similar fashion to a “tapas meal”. The more the merrier, as you’ll be able to try out several different dishes of various origins.
The starters are the restaurant’s strongest points and are roughly the same size as the mains. Don’t hesitate to order as many as you crave for, even if it’ll require you to cut down on the mains.
My favourites were the “Stuffed avocado cannelloni” and the “Low-temperature egg”. Both are refreshing, tasty and very original.
I was less enthusiastic about the “Duck foie gras”, but I always discourage people from choosing ordinary dishes when having dinner in a place such as the Agust Gastrobar. This might be because I am a bit blasé when it comes to foie gras, since it’s a common appetiser in France.
The Agust Gastrobar menu had evolved and there a few novelties on the menu as well as some overall improvements to the dishes that were previously on offer. Notice the “Causa limeña, a Peruvian potato purée served its tuna, salmon and avocado tartares” on the second picture below, which has significantly evolved.
I had the chance to try out two newcomers: The “Smoked loins of sardine with pistachio ajoblanco, beetroot, yoghurt and raspberries” and the off-menu “Tuna Tartare and Guacamole”.
Both starters are delicious and I especially loved the tuna tartare and guacamole. However, it’s an off-menu dish which isn’t always available so be ready for plan B.
The Mains ★★★★★
With the notable exception of the rather large yet easily shareable “dry aged beef entrecote”, the mains are also small portioned dishes meant to be tried out by the whole dinner party.
My favourite mains were the “Chicken & Cream cannelloni” and the “Cartagena style octopus”. Everything was tasty, beautifully presented and despite the appearances, plentiful.
There are a few new mains on the menu such as the “Prawns Thai Curry” (quite spicy), the “Tuna Tataki” or the “Old style roasted cannelloni of chicken with Parmesan and black truffle”. All of these are as delicious as the 2016 mains, if not better.
The new star of the show is “Puerto rican Tamal” (pluma ibérica pork meat with yucca, plantain banana and black garlic). This dish cooks overnight and simmers for 10 hours, resulting in a most extraordinary flavour. If you’re a meat eater, I strongly recommend ordering at least one of these. It’s also the most aesthetically pleasing of the mains and is visible in the second picture below.
The Desserts ★★★★★
If you’re having dinner at the Agust Gastrobar, you MUST order the desserts. They are absolute works of arts and a pleasure for the senses, reminiscent of the Merrion Hotel’s afternoon ART tea in Dublin.
The highlight of the show is “The Cactus”, a mascarpone and white chocolate ganache stuffed with citrus and lime foam, served in a black chocolate and sesame crumble.
The second best dessert would be the “Tapioca pearls”, less impressive in appearance but with a unique subtle taste, highly recommended for gourmets.
Last but not least, the “Inca chocolate” and the “Crème brûlée” make for a perfect combination. The former is an adult’s/chocolate aficionados dessert (very bitter and served with an acid cocktail), while the latter is deliciously sweet.
Last but not least, the desserts. I remember being impressed by the work of art that is the “Cactus” and I was looking forward to trying out their new desserts. Need less to say, I wasn’t let down:
The major newcomer is the “Valrona chocolate sublime with cacao sorbet, earl grey tea ganache and creamy caramel”. The bitterness of the Carribean 80% chocolate is a perfect match with the soft flavour of earl grey tea and caramel, it’s masterful! Yours truly happens to be a massive tea and chocolate fan so I couldn’t help feeling that this dessert has been designed to please me. Unless you are among the minority of people who are not too keen on chocolate, there is no viable excuse to skip this one!
The Lemon is an absolute marvel and is also quite light, so it’s the perfect choice for small appetites.
The Service ★★★★★
The staff is friendly, efficient and was extra patient despite our constant hesitation.
The chef, Hicham Houmidide, walks around the restaurant to make sure that everything goes well, both in the kitchens and on the restaurant floor. He’s a very good host and will happily explain his vision of “affordable gastronomy”, Agust Gastrobar’s leitmotiv.
Below is a video of Hicham detailing the desserts and serving the cocktail that goes along with the “Inca chocolat” (in English/French), keep calm & bon appétit!
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★★★
The Agust Gastrobar is a gourmet’s dream come true, a place where one can enjoy the best of international gastronomy without breaking the bank. The restaurant menu has improved quite a bit and features even more delicious courses, as well as a superb selection of cocktails.
The setting is brilliant, the food is amazing and the service beyond reproach. A must-go for any respectable foodie, whether you visit or live in Barcelona.
+: Beautiful restaurant, relaxing atmosphere
+: Superb coctktails & mocktails
+: Amazing food
+: Service beyond reproach
+: Excellent value for money
-: Busy at weekends, booking recommended