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HisopWow. Another four-language dinner, this time in slightly more cramped surroundings than Cinc Sentits– though aside from that, the restaurants feel much the same – but a clear step above in quality. Like so much in this city, the interior is stylish and modern, and the métier is pure excellence. In lieu of cava (though Theresa chooses a glass from the same producer we drank last night, I decide to make up for a lack of true pre-dinner tapas with a little Sherry.

Following a tasting menu, we start with sardines dressed with bitter orange and pumpkin, a lively and adventurous flavor combination that truly sets the palate alight. Next is an ice cream of foie gras and ceps (the second mushroom-based ice cream I’ve had this year), which is some sort of mad genius; a mélange of baritone richness almost beyond description.

The wine list isn’t overly long, but it doesn’t need to be, because the options are largely excellent. It turns out that I order the last bottle of a particular wine, and though she brings it to the table, our sommelière seems profoundly reluctant to open it. I offer her a farewell taste to compensate, but she declines.

Dinner continues with a tripartite riff on octopus – steamed, grilled and resting in a stock made from dried – with smoky seed/fruit morsels of which we can’t quite catch the name. After that, another set of variations on a theme: pigeon with star anise, iced anise and an anise syrup. The additions are interesting, but the pigeon itself is extraordinary…the best I’ve ever tasted. The finalé is a beautiful array of Spanish cheese, followed by a dessert that I have unfortunately lost to blissful memory.

Service is, once again, flawless. I ask our sommelière to recommend something in the digestivo category, and she comes up with an interesting choice. (10/06)


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