Renowned chef Carles Gaig is synonymous with Catalan cuisine. The first overseas branch of his Michelin-starred Barcelona restaurant that opened in 1989, Restaurant Gaig sits on Stanley Street. It’s run by his daughter, who represents the fifth generation of the family’s lineage of chefs and restaurateurs.
Since opening in 2016, the restaurant has been helmed by chef Marti Carlos Martinez, whose dishes celebrate the best of quintessential Catalan fare with unmistakable passion. In time for summer in Catalonia, he is now presenting a refreshed seasonal menu, crafted with a blend of profound respect for tradition and innovative flair. Some dishes also offer a glimpse into the Catalan way of life, including Martinez’s own experiences.
A trio of canapés leads diners into a summer culinary experience with the lobster salpicon tart, the salmorejo sandwich and the suckling pig with carabinero prawn. Inspired by Martinez’s own memories of savouring salpicon on sunny days, a tangy seafood salad made with boiled lobster and diced vegetables is nestled in a house-made kueh pie tee shell and garnished with escabeche espuma (siphoned olive oil, paprika and white wine vinegar).
Originally a cold and creamy soup originating from Córdoba, the salmorejo here is churned into a sorbet and wedged between two light, crispy pieces of dehydrated tomato bread for a refreshing snack.
Embodying the regional concept of mar i mutanya — pairing meat and seafood to reflect the Catalan landscape from mountain to sea — the suckling pig with carabinero prawn offers a delightful combination of crispy and creamy textures, finished with finger lime caviar and tempura crisps reminiscent of the Gaig family’s favourite snack, deep-fried calf brain.
A starter that is almost too pretty to eat, the duck foie gras terrine is inspired by Gaig’s fortuitous discovery of pairing pâté with anchovies during his military service. Keeping with the mar i mutanya tradition, Martinez combines French duck liver and L’Escala anchovy within a thin spiral grassini, dotted with green apple purée and a confit onion purée for an unconventional composition of flavours.
In a contemporary take on Spanish paella, squid ink rice is served beneath a delicate silken cuttlefish sheet garnished with edible flowers. Perfect for those who want robust flavours, bomba rice and diced squid are cooked in squid ink and a flavourful seafood broth, then cloaked with a soft, white layer of cuttlefish blended with egg white.
Anyone who has dined at Gaig knows that the cannelloni is not to be missed. A testament to heritage cuisine, the recipe has remained unchanged since the restaurant’s beginnings as the Taberna d’en Gaig in 1869. Typically a Christmas dish in Barcelona, seared beef chuck roll and pork collar are wrapped in a cannelloni sheet, then served in a pool of exquisite truffle cream sauce.
Nose-to-tail gastronomy is a centuries-old tradition in Catalan cuisine, and Martinez celebrates this with the menu’s crowd-pleaser, the Spanish suckling pig. A tealight candle is first placed onto the table to mark the beginning of the suckling pig sequence. But this is no ordinary candle. Formed with lard rendered from pork fat and bacon, it gradually melts into a delightful dip for freshly baked bread.
Oven-baked till crisp, the succulent pig loin is served alongside a crispy pig tail that is cooked with herbs and spices before being deep-fried. Infused with lime and vinegar, a tasty mango chutney complements the meat with a jus made from reducing the pig’s trotters and bones with butter for bolder flavours.
For those who want the complete nose-to-tail dining experience, order the accompanying pig’s head dish. The head is carefully deboned, leaving the crunchy ears and tender jowl — mixed in a herb and spice confit and finished in the oven — to be savoured.
Inspired by the Pomada cocktail — a staple at summer parties on the Spanish island of Menorca — the palate cleanser softens the strong flavours of the meal by combining Rigour Mahón Gin with lemon juice and sugar syrup in a large round droplet.
The meal ends on a sweet note with a delicious sphere of goat’s milk mousse and dulce de leche, glazed with a guava purée. Served with frozen buttermilk foam and white chocolate sand, the dessert is garnished with white cotton candy.
A testament to the Gaig family’s dynamic gastronomic tradition, the delightful menu incites an appreciation for Catalan cuisine in a part of the world where it is gradually gaining its footing.