Address: Passeig Isabel II, 14, 08003 Barcelona, Spain. 34 93 319 30 33 / 93 219 29 50.
Review: So, Barcelona is as close to the Mediterranean as Homer Simpson is dumb. Alright, alright, that comparison makes absolutely no sense, but it does contain one eternal truth: Barcelona is stinkin' close to the Mediterranean. And being right up on the sea shore, seafood is king, queen, and all the peons. Now, my wifey no likey seafood (because she plumb crazy), but she indulges me every so often, and tonight was one of those times.
Initially, we ordered jamon iberico with pan y tomates (Iberian ham with a Catalan staple, bread with tomatoes). Good quality ham, and pan y tomates is one of the better things you can eat. Then, the main event: 7 Portes Zarzuela with 1/2 spiny lobster. This is a seafood stew that came with: sole, hake, squid, mussels, the biggest frickin' prawn I've ever seen, and 1/2 of a spiny lobster.
Alright let's start going over this in systematic fashion:
1. Squid: Simple rounds, very tender which indicates it was cooked very well.
2. Mussels: Nothing particularly special, but juicy and good. (Note: I grew up in the middle-of-nowhere Alaska, and mussels were phenomenal there. Compared to those, these were okay.)
3. Sole: Great steaky texture. Perfectly cooked. Great stuff. One of my new favorite fishes.
4. Hake: Tender flaky white fish. Again, perfectly cooked.
5. Shrimp: Only one of these, unfortunately. Large, tender goodness. Didn't even bother taking off the shell to eat it, that's how tender and flavorful it was.
6. Prawn: My goodness, this prawn was huge. It was, literally, the size of a small lobster. The tail meat was mild and a bit without personality. On the other hand, the head portion was full of flavor thanks to the tomalley (alternative spellings seen: tumale, tamale). Of course, tomalley refers specifically to the digestive portions of a lobster found in its head, but it seems applicable to this massive prawn as well. In any case, it was intensely briny and tasted like the sea. It mixed with the little bits of meat found in the head made for wonderful eating.
7. Spiny lobster: First things first, spiny lobster is entirely different from Maine lobster. Spiny lobster has a much more assertive flavor, and assertive in a good way. And this lobster was, like everything else, juicy, juicy, juicy. Of course, lobster suffers from one serious problem: it just doesn't have as much flavor as crab. It's a wonderful crustacean, but it's just a little light on flavor. That noted, I ate every single inch of meat and tomalley this bad spiny boy had to offer.
Overall, the second best seafood dish I've ever had. (First is, without a doubt, freshly caught, killed, and steamed king crab drowned in butter. Could anything be better than that?)
Oh, and my wife ordered vegetable cannelloni.
The dish can be summed up thusly: Spaniards do not make good Italian food. Stick with the seafood.
In the end, this picture sums up my experience at 7 Portes.
Rating: 8/10 (5/10 is average).