Bar Raval looks very similar to Chef Grant van Gameren’s other restaurant, Bar Isabel, but the studiously authentic Spanish tapas menu is incredibly different. The decor still has that dim European tavern feel: blurred green and red lighting, carved wood and a large elaborate bar. Oh, and I must mention that there is no seating here. Customers crowd around wooden barrels and small window table-tops to sample the incredibly innovative menu. On another note, and FYI… the word around town is that Gameren keeps it dark to sway bloggers away from taking photos – and I totally believe it. It is well known that his ex-business partner Jen Agg of Black Hoof has a dislike of bloggers and social media enthusiasts – I’ve even felt it myself. So like what is with the attitude? I have no idea. But what I can tell you is that the food is exciting and originative.
We had the most incredibly cured Iberico Bellota pork. The chewy texture is fatty, salty and sweet with a nutty acorn flavour that’s unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. Razor clams smothered in Raval sauce and pig’s cheeks in cider are equally as pleasing.
Smoked mackerel canned and served in-house. Morcilla (blood sausage) and quail’s egg is as colourful as it is tasty. Sweetbreads showcased on a spongy loaf with hot Spanish peppers are incredibly memorable, along with scallops swimming in a floral uni sauce.
Squid saturated in pork fat and chicken gizzards – so complex yet so simple- wondrously rich in offal flavours.