In recent years Girona has come under the international foodie spotlight due to the much publicised El Celler Can Roca becoming the world’s best restaurant in 2013 and again in 2015 according to Restaurant Magazine.
A well deserved accolade no doubt but there are other Girona restaurants worthy of fine dining that deserve a mention. And, less expensive than having to remortgage your house for a meal at Can Roca. Whilst not boasting their 3 Michelin stars or even 1 star (Massana) they offer delicious tasting menus. A good enough reason to dress up to go in search of dining excellence. Plus, who knows, one day they may even reach those same Michelin stellar heights.
A good few of the kitchens here are also staffed by people that had working links with top restaurants in Girona or Barcelona. Girona’s well-renowned Escola de Hosteleria cranks out in-demand catering staff at home and abroad. This school also receives strong support from the Roca brothers who are former alumni.
Divinum, C/ de I’Albereda, 7
We’ve been here a couple of times, old town setting with a vaulted interior. Upon entering the heavily-wooded panel reception, the imposing front desk (yes-wood again) reminds me of some grandiose country house hotel. Just add a couple of stag or deer antlers to complete the picture. The small number of covers, the just right lighting level makes for a cosy couples spot. We chose its tasting menu (menu de gustacio), 3 to 4 starters followed by the same number of mains and desserts. I managed to name-drop one of my students who was a good friend of the chef, which earned us a freebie dish.
Just sit back and let them keep coming, there’s a thoughtful pause between each one and I couldn’t fault the service. Small portions, each accompanied by a different wine.The poor dishwasher must have been working overtime as each plate came with a fresh set of cutlery. I like this way of eating as usually I’m terribly indecisive when faced with a standard menu card.
Mimolet, C/ del Pou Rodo, 12
Once again it was time to put on a jacket and tie, not a common occurrence for me, living in a hot climate. Down a narrow alley away from St Feliu church past the hotel Llegendes is the unassuming Mimolet. Being a Saturday night we’d booked, and saw walk-ins getting turned away. Same as above, we chose the tasting menu and the house wine. Tasty morsels started to appear on an irregular basis. The fall back position in such cases is to talk and drink more. Ordinary we don’t mind a long drawn out eating session but this time it dragged on a touch too long. The large group of nearby diners were making a night of it. They overheard our English and proceeded to engage in some one-sided entertainment-theirs not ours.
Nu, C/ d’Abeuradors,4
I’d walked past this place many times on my way out for my usual Friday night escape into Girona’s old town labyrinth of night time liquid offerings. Always busy with an equal mix of locals and tourists who’ve no doubt been aware of its top standing on sites like Tripadvisor. The culinary talent pool has links with nearby 1 Michelin star Massana.
So crossing our radar we booked a late Saturday night table. Not too near the front door mind you, as it was a cold December night. A long narrow layout also includes a parallel counter where clients can eat, and get a birds eye view of chefs at work. No pressure then. The de rigueur choice for us was of course the tasting menu. Well presented, well made dishes, I sometimes think how much more the bill would be if this was in London.
Cull del Mon, Vall de St Daniel
A little less of an impact on your pocket, but not by too much, we’ve visited a good few times over several years. One time we even saw Jordi Roca eating here (the pastry chef at Celler Can Roca). This stone built house stands alone tucked away in the sleepy hollow village of St Daniel. Up behind Girona’s cathedral it’s a nice improve-your-appetite stroll up to here, or squeeze your car into its handful of spaces. The bare-stone theme continues inside, bright, contemporary and uncluttered. On a warm sunny day or balmy evening go for its shaded side terrace.
Charming Moroccan owner/chef Lofti and Catalan wife Montse who’s front of house. The menu reflects this fusion of both cuisines which obviously works as they’ve certainly crept up the list of preferred Girona eateries on big review sites. Starters (primers plats) include two favourites, the Catalan cheese selection and the foi raviolis in a mushroom sauce. Mains (segons plats) includes lamb tagine and locally-sourced steak.
On our last visit in June 2020 the hit was just shy of 200 euros for four. That for me falls into the ‘go there once a year category’. If there’s one last thing to add, it’s that the menu hasn’t changed much, if at all for a very long time. I suppose it’s a case of if it works then why change things. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.