Ineffable: something that cannot be explained by words. This is the definition we find in the dictionary, and it’s probably the word that best describes our experience at Nomm. The adjective is applicable from the get-go. You enter a restaurant on Paral·lel which seems hidden-away, deliberately concealed. The entrance makes it seem like you’re entering an underground speakeasy instead of what it really is: a new, ambitious and hidden-away gastronomical venture for Barcelona that is difficult to pigeonhole but sure to impress you.
Let’s begin at the beginning. The centre of this maelstrom is Peter, the owner and manager. He is an Australian with Asian roots who can barely speak Spanish, who alongside his Ukrainian wife simply set out to be and to offer something unique. We discover a menu which is more international than fusion, a mixture of Peter’s Asian knowledge with the contributions of a fantastic rising chef, the Portuguese Nuno Costar. The result is a highly curious, desirable combination which, most importantly, promises a bright future as it evolves and is fine-tuned. Folks from here, there and everywhere in a 100% international venture.
In Peter’s universe, everything is ineffable, everything is sui generis. This makes the restaurant a place of contrasts and extremes. We enter and walk past a bar next to a DJ booth. We’re not sure whether to have dinner or order a main dish. We continue on and enter an adjacent room presided over by a tree planted in the centre. There you begin to realise that the greatness of the place lies precisely in its apparent incoherence. We sit down and begin to notice our surroundings; everything is studiously messy, like Johnny Depp. They apparently didn’t worry about the paint or the décor. Within all of this jumble, in the back is a gleaming kitchen so diners can see how their food is being prepared. The kitchen works with the pace, method and quality of any starred venue.
We begin to eat. Our hunger is piqued with a combination of sashimi that is more than acceptable. Here there’s no mystery; the product has to be fresh, and theirs is. Then comes the first surprise. We’re in the era of tartare; apparently no one can design a menu without including a tuna, salmon or the traditional steak tartare (or all three). This has contributed to educating most people’s palates, or getting them used to it. Alright, so we are served a tuna tartare. Over it is potatoes which they call ‘big air’, like little tufts resembling cereal which give a highly original crispy texture that combines perfectly with just the right amount of heat. Eureka!
But the best is yet to come: if the tuna tartare is good, the steak is even better. And I can assure you one thing: it is worth the pilgrimage to see our friend Peter if only to try the steak tartare. Balance, texture, flavour, a very appreciated touch of heat and wonderful, super-thin slices of potato around it which replace the traditional toast. Hands down, the dish of the evening!
Before coming to the end, Nuno also offers us acceptable “Scallop nigiri with sea urchin” over Japanese purple potatoes, and flavourful “Crab dumplings” accompanied by a traditional Thai peanut sauce, which is delightful and spicy. We then soar heavenward again, this time through the sauces which accompany the “Prawns in garlic sauce” and the “Kimchi clam cataplana”. Power with control, balance with dazzle. Notice the sauces of both dishes: brimming with flavour, freshness and punch with a subtle, incisive touch of heat.
Scallop nigiri with sea urchin
Prawns with garlic sauce
Kimchi clam cataplana
And from there Nuno once again thrills us with an “Octopus with potato and black olive cream”, which is spectacular, with a foam made from the water in which the octopus was cooked. Yummy!! And before setting our sights on dessert, we finish off the savouries with a traditional “Chicken piri-piri” which leeaves us with a sensation similar to the previous dish. It’s one you’d be pleased to eat every Sunday of your life, although perhaps not that at that point in the menu. It’s a matter of sequencing, that’s all.
Octopus with potato and black olive cream
With the desserts, we’re back on the octopus track, with ambitious, sophisticated dishes. An outstanding “Sampling of chocolates” in different textures segues into a reinterpretation of a classic: a “Deconstructed lemon pie”, which still needs a bit of fine-tuning.
Sampling of chocolates
Deconstructed lemon pie
In short, Nomm is a different, original place with great prospects. It shows good manners, offers a really fun experience perfect for gastronomically open minds, and is appropriate for anyone who wants to discover an unusual place. And believe us: if it weren’t for us you probably would have never discovered it. You heard it first from Miguelín Stars!
|Per person: 2 appetisers to share, 1 main course, 1 dessert to share, 1 glass of wine|
Where is Nomm?
Address: Av. del Paraŀlel, 130, 08015 Barcelona
Telephone: 932 80 79 25
Timetable: Tuesday and Wednesday 7 pm to 1 am, Thursday to Saturday 7 pm to 3 am, closed Monday