It would have been rude (and not like us) if we didn’t use the opportunity of being in Barcelona for the MYBA charter show to try out some of the local chef talent. Looking for somewhere in walking distance from the port, with food better than just an authentic local vibe, and something a bit special, we chose Arola at the Arts Hotel.   We were not disappointed. The restaurant, on the second floor of the hotel was clean and modern but still warm and friendly.   Not that busy when we arrived but then 8.30 is still early for the Spanish – but by about 10 it was full and buzzing.   The food was a modern take on Spanish tapas. The menu included many of the classics like patatas bravas and fried calamari but nothing that arrived at the table was classical or ordinary at all. The fried calamari for example came as a little sandwich wedged between 2 black thin crisps made from the squid ink.

The asparagus salad came on a bed of olive sand which was delicious and the patatas bravas looked like mini bone marrow – they were tiny little mouthfuls that exploded with flavour.

We chose about eight dishes between three of us plus dessert which was about the right amount.

The gin & tonics were large (the way we like them) and the 2 bottles of Albarino went down exceptionally well. The end of the meal couldn’t have been any better, a deconstructed strawberry cheesecake (in the shape and look of a strawberry), a carrot cake in a mini chocolate plant pot with what looked like earth and mini carrots sprouting of the top (all edible) and a more simple but equally yummy chocolate and orange combination that was very pretty and tasty too.

All in all a great meal and a great evening. Head Chef Sergei Arola has an interesting background having worked with 2 culinary masters from France and Spain, Pierre Gagnaire and Feran Adrià. Arola has definitely created his own unique style here though and has successfully managed to strike just the right balance between new and old, modern and classic, creatively interesting, beautiful to look at and down right tasty.

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