Situated in the center of Barcelona, just a few steps away from the exclusive “Paseo de Gracia”, El Palace began life as the Hotel Ritz. Retaining many of its original, decadent features, dining here is an affordable luxury. The Menu L’Éclair, a three course spectacle, will ensure you re-visit the hotel again and again.
It has nearly been a year since I last visited, but to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of El Palace, take my advice and dine in style. Formerly, The Ritz (the only Ritz hotel not situated within a capital city) the hotel was opened in 1919 and has since changed hands, closed, re-opened and renovated under a different ownership. Despite its varied history, little has changed in terms of first class service, stunning decoration and a sense of decadence and style. I first came here two years ago to celebrate another Birthday, although little has changed. The beautiful lounge (below) has been rearranged; where sofas and chairs once occupied the area, it has since been cleared to create a sweeping space down to the dining room, L’Eclair. Where a bar once stood is now an impressive grand piano yet the space does not seem empty. Well, with lunch at 1.30pm – early by Spanish standards – we were the only diners for the ‘menu dal dia’ or menu of the day.
Booked via El Tenador, I received a 30 percent discount on the set menu that was possibly the best meal I have had this year so far. Starting with a glass of Cava (included) and a nibble on Éclair duck foie gras, red fruits and hazelnuts (not included in the menu) this set the decadent and mouth-watering tone for the rest of the lunch. The foie was creamy, smooth and bursting with earthy flavours, offset by the sweetness of the fruits. To start, we both chose the Penne rigate truffle cream, toasted corn and seasonal truffle that was a heavy, punchy smack on the pallet – and I couldn’t get enough. This is a big plate of winter, inviting itself into the hotel when the sun shone outside. Would I say it is a little too big? Perhaps, but I wanted it to last forever as the textures and truffle were both generous and delightful. For the main course, we both chose the same; Chicken cooked at low temperature, tandoori and mashed potato and butter which was memorable and inspirational. It is the kind of dish you hope to cook at home for a dinner party; simple yet effective. Who knew mash and chicken with subtle Indian flavours matched well? Lastly, as chocolate fiends, we both opted for the Black chocolate and apricot sacher – I’m not entirely sure where the apricot hid, but the chocolate ganache was there to welcome us with open arms. To finish, we relaxed with a coffee (not included) which came with two petit fours each; not that we needed any more to eat. This was all accompanied by a local rose from the Penedes area which sits behind the city.
What strikes me about this hotel is that it never seems full. Sure, we visited at the beginning of the week yet on my previous visit, it seemed to be just as quiet. However, this time we did venture to the roof for a post lunch cocktail to take in the sweeping 360 degree views of the city. I am sure many visitors will be flocking to The W or Arts hotels on the sea front – modern temples of luxury that are both landmarks on the face of the city. But you won’t find me there – I will be here gorging on foie eclairs and sipping on inexpensive Cava, no doubt returning shortly.
This post is not endorsed by the hotel, and I paid for both lunch and drinks myself.