To be honest, I booked Manairo because it is one of the few fine dining restaurants in Spain that is open on Monday nights. If you are planning on going to Spain and interested in food, be aware that most restaurants are only open on Tuesday – Saturday nights, and dining hours are typically much later than in the U.S. (think 9pm or later). I’ll post about five of the restaurants that I ended up going to in Spain to give you a sense of what you might expect from tasting menus there.
Manairo was the first of the five that we went to, and I’m glad that we decided to go with the order that we did, because in my opinion Manairo was the weakest of the bunch. It was however, also the least expensive, at 70 euros per person for the tasting menu.
Overall judgment: 3 of 5 stars
We had a solid and enjoyable meal at Manairo, but it was not particularly memorable, especially compared with some of the restaurants that we went to later on during our Spain vacation. None of the dishes on the tasting menu stood out to us, but none of them were bad, either. Manairo is a little disappointing for a restaurant with 1 Michelin star, but there are far worse 1 Michelin star restaurants out there. I would say that the meat dishes were strong, while the seafood dishes were pedestrian. The restaurant itself is very small, and the atmosphere is quiet, almost to the point where you feel like you have to whisper to not distract from the quietness. I would have preferred a slightly more animated atmosphere, but I could see Manairo being a nice place for a more intimate date.
The decor was interesting, with cage-like light fixtures and black and white artwork.
Below is a recap of our meal:
Salami “sand” amuse bouche with tomato. I really enjoyed this amuse bouche. The salami was tasty, with an interesting mix of salty and sweet flavors.
Blue fish with peppers. The raw fish was served at room temperature, and I much prefer my sashimi-style appetizers to be served at a colder temperature. Nonetheless, I liked the combination of ingredients and extra hint of spice from the peppers.
Batter fried squid rings with fried eggs and greased potatoes. This is one of Chef Jordi Herrera’s specialties, but I found the fried squid ring to be too greasy and lacking in savoriness. The taste of the squid was lost in the deep fried batter, and the dish reminded me of a hash brown with an egg on top.
Beef filet. The beef was tender and tasty, with the right amount of rareness. This was one of the strongest dishes of the night. Even though I was properly full by this point, I still savored every bite of the beef.
Overall, if you are looking for a solid Monday night dinner experience while in Spain, then I would definitely consider Manairo. There are certainly better fine dining restaurants in Barcelona, but Manairo will make for an enjoyable meal at a lower price point than most other comparable restaurants while giving you a fair introduction to traditional Spanish ingredients. I was especially impressed with the inexpensive but delicious local wine selection, priced at (gasp!) 4 euros per glass. The cuisine was not as inventive as I thought it would be based on reviews that I had read, but the dishes that incorporated meat (beef, pork, salami, sausage) were all excellent.
Manairo, Carrer de la Diputació, 424, 08013 Barcelona, Spain