Thursday, 7 June 2007

Cheese and Biscuits on tour - El Moli de L'Escala

It's a very strange phenomenon - hitherto also demonstrated on my review of the Greyhound - that somehow a mediocre dining experience seems to affect the ability of my cameraphone to focus. It's almost as if the lens is trying to shield me from the full horror of the meal, and allow me to forget. So apologies in advance for the quality of the shots for this blog entry, and further apologies on behalf of El Moli de L'Escala for the quality of the food itself.

El Moli ranks itself amongst some other reasonably good restaurants in the area as a member of the Nou Cuina group. As I've previously mentioned, the Nou Cuina has yet to be explained to me in full, but if nothing else it's perhaps indicative of a new-found confidence in Catalan cuisine and a desire to create a recognisable brand to the wider world. On the basis of my meal here however, they've got an uphill struggle.

One thing this restaurant does have going for it is a great setting. As the name suggests, it's an old converted mill, and the lovely vaulted room we ate in had bags of character, even if it was a bit echoey on a quiet weekday night out of season. The bread rolls presented were nice and fluffy and warm too, if a little uninteresting, and the olives were OK. In fact I probably should have made more of the bread and olives because they were the last edible items presented to me that evening.

Things went rapidly downhill with the arrival of my scallops starter. Looking and tasting like something straight out of a Mike Leigh film, this was a hideously amateurish attempt at fine dining. Tasteless, dry scallops (probably frozen) smothered in parmesan cheese and - I kid you not - chocolate sauce. Cheese and chocolate together, mmm! Hands down the most disgusting thing I've ever been asked to eat, and that includes cheese and onion flavoured microchips I found in the freezer once at university.

The next course - if you can call it that - was a miniscule portion of bland chicken satays, not actually disgusting but very very dull. Some sort of cheese sauce I think, with that sprinkling of dried herbs on top some pubs do to try and make it looks like they've been to chef school.

We didn't even have a dessert. Paying up as fast as possible (it wasn't even that cheap, about €40 each I seem to remember, including wine) we scurried out into the night, vowing never to return. An embarassing gamble that didn't pay off - unlike the previous night's meal at Els Pescadors - it's even more shocking to discover that El Moli is actually in the Michelin guide with one knife and fork. I don't know how they justify that, because I'm pretty sure even in season the useless cooking would make a hash of much fresher ingredients. Still, you live and learn.


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