Tuesday, June 19, 2012

El Club Allard (The Club Allard)

El Club Allard will be our first fine dining, michelin star experience in Spain. We have been told that it holds 2 michelin stars and is located in a prestigious private club. Private it is... We walk down the block, from one end to the other, countless times, with no signage of El Club Allard. Finally, after asking multiple people, we realize we are standing right at the front door!

Chef Diego Gruerro makes an effort to introduce the menu personally to each customer. A nice touch that is unheard of in LA. Chef in the kitchen?! That's sacrilegious!

We arrive at the table to find 2 white business cards sitting side by side on the table. A few minutes later, the servers brings a bowl and instructs us to dip this card into the sauce and munch on it, like you would nachos! Hesitantly, we abide with his instructions. Crunchy, tasteless, like rice paper. Ok... I get it. Molecular Gastronomy. But I'm from LA and I had better.

game truffle with foie and mushrooms
Another mo-ga moment, black truffle by appearance but game-like meat in taste, accompanied by shaved, freeze dried foie. Not impressed. But the dish is elevated by the smoking presentation.

"perretxico" mushrooms and Navarre asarragus papillote
This wild mushroom papillote is an example of simple but very well executed dish. No smoke and mirrors, just simple good food.

Skrey is a Nordic fish, a common staple of Icelandic folk. Vague memories of having dried Skrey in Iceland still remain. But frankly, they weren't fond ones. Today's skrey is clean, firm and laced with wild mushroom broth. Much better.
veal cheek doughnut

Veal cheek doughnut... which my dining companian, lovingly, called "poop". The veal is stewed to soft, thready consistency, then shaped into a doughnut. Not the best presentation and the flavors do not pop.
the fishbowl
Now onto the fishbowl. Cute, ingenious, tasty. Now this is molecular gastronomy! True to its name, you have the tank, the coral, the kelp, and the abalone shell. Taste? Green tea sponge cake, cream, chocolate, foam. Chef Gruerro, we need more of this and less of veal doughnuts!

poche egg

The poached egg is another one of his signature dishes. White chocolate, coconut gelee, and the yolk is a mango sauce. This is a dish which elicits oohs and ahhs as the spoon gently cracks along the egg shell.

Has Chef Gruerro fallen to the trap of signature dishes as many famed chefs eventually do? Probably. The clientele appeared to be mostly tourists and his menu, suspiciously, never changes. After much research, and after seeing countless fishbowls and poche egg, I came to the conclusion that his menu has barely changed in the past year. Ergo, the high number of tourists and waning number of locals.

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