A dark metal sign, unassuming stone arch, and simple brass handled doors; there’s a quiet confidence that seems to emanate from the inconspicuous entrance of El Patio de Glòria. And for good reason.
Stepping inside, mood is instantly set with atmospheric lighting illuminating the damask wallpaper, a low beamed ceiling, and marès stone. It feels historic but contemporary, medieval yet modern.
Passing through a short corridor, guests arrive at the restaurant’s bijou dining room (access is also via the Hotel Glòria de San Jaume’s snug cocktail bar). Half a dozen tables are encircled by chairs upholstered in emerald and ruby velvet, while parquet herringbone combines with subtle Parisian styling to cosy and sophisticated effect.
The meal starts pleasantly, with warm hunks of rye bread brought with chilled alioli and some curious tandoori nuts. Croquettes change according to “kitchen inspiration” – today’s is octopus – and they arrive novelly on a tangled bed of, clearly once well-used, fishing net. The quality of its croquette is usually a good indication of the restaurant as a whole. And these were excellent; lightly crisp spheres with a centre that was rich, creamy and dark, an intense inkiness and subtle taste of cephalopod.
Next was a playful fusion of Yucatecan and Vietnamese cooking: a ‘nem’ fried roll filled with pibil pork. It was to be halved and wrapped in a lettuce leaf with a choice of Asian and Mexican condiments. The pork was note perfect – juicy, sweet, fibrous – and would have stood up perfectly well with fewer distractions. The following steak tartare was a must-try for fans of the dish; infused with beech wood smoke and slathered in fois cream that was silky in both texture and taste.
The aroma of smoke lingered until the next piece of theatre, when fillets of red mullet were blow-torch flambéed tableside. The fish was fresh and delicate, and accompanying Pad Thai rice worked well. It was soon overshadowed, however, upon the arrival of the shoulder of lamb. Cooked at a low temperature for 14 hours, it was exemplary – richly tender and delicious. While expecting little on the dessert menu could outdo what had come before, a Thai-inspired panna cotta was simply sublime, fusing flavours of lemongrass, wasabi, and toasted sesame for a most memorable finale.
Front of house was expertly handled by maître d’, Miguel Hermida, with white glove service that was professional without being the least stuffy – perfectly fitted the vibe. Meal over, we met the man behind the menu, executive chef Javier Gardonio, an affable 36-year-old Argentinian who has worked with some of Spain’s finest Michelin-garnered cooks. There’s no succinct way to describe his style of cuisine. It traverses assorted styles from fusion to traditional, from exotic to comfort food, but suffice to say it’s very, very good indeed.
Why eat here?
A creative and expertly crafted menu of outstanding dishes served in upscale casual-chic surrounds.