Espai Kru

Carrer de Lleida, 7, Barcelona, 08004, Spain

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Espai Kru (“raw space”) opened in late 2012, sister to seafood restaurant Rias de Galicia, which is downstairs. It is owned by three brothers: Juan Carlos, Borja and Pedro Iglesias, who partner with Ferran and Albert Adrià in restaurants like Tickets, 41° and Pakta. Head chef Ever Cubilla specialises in raw seafood, though there are some cooked dishes too (the emphasis at Rias de Galicia is the other way around). You can even order dishes from the Rias de Galicia menu to eat in Espai Kru should you wish. The dining room has a casual, relaxed atmosphere, with a large fish counter at one end of the room, with a female Japanese chef looking after the sashimi. 

There is a short wine list, but you can ask to see the much more comprehensive list from downstairs. On this there were labels like Marques de Riscal 2012 at €33 for a bottle you can find in the high street for €19, Louis Roederer NV at €79 compared to its retail price of €43, and Flor de Pingus 2014 at €143 for a wine that will set you back €70 in a shop. There were posher wines too, such as Mouton Rothschild 2008 at €737 compared to its shop price of €516, and Pingus 2010 at €1,540 for a wine whose current market value is €786. There were plenty of modestly priced wines, some as little as €15, and lots of choice under €30. The bargain of the list was the Alion 2013 at €75, slightly below its retail price of €79. I can also recommend the Albariño Pazo de Senorans Sel 2015 (at €50 compared to its shop price of €22) that was drinking very well. There is a tasting menu at €85 but we went the a la carte route.

Croquettas of prawn and spider crab were a world away from the tasteless fillers that you encounter in so many Spanish restaurants. Here there was deep flavour from the shellfish, while the coating was light and crisp. These were so good that we ordered another pair at the end of the meal in place of dessert, and despite the quality these were just €3 each (16/20).

Raw squid came in three forms: with caviar, with lime juice, and as a mock tagliatelle with tomato, basil and chill sauce. The quality of the squid was impeccable, without even a hint of chewiness. I have rarely eaten squid this good outside Japan. It is hard to score something this simple, but 16/20 may be too mean. Certainly the mock pasta involved more technique, and the sauce was nicely judged, with a genuine spicy kick (17/20). Raw razor clams came with mustard vinaigrette and were also top quality (16/20).

A plate of sashimi was prettily presented. Sea bream was tender, horse mackerel lovely, and Spanish mackerel was also of high quality. Bonito was good but not in the same league as the mackerel, and the tuna also was good rather than dazzling (average 15/20). The sashimi plate came with pickled ginger, but also fake wasabi (the green coloured horseradish and mustard from a tube), which is a pity as real wasabi, though costly, is a world apart from this cheap imitation. Lobster tartare was next, a generous portion of very good quality, the lobster palpably fresh, priced at just €19 (16/20). Spider crab cannelloni was a pleasant final dish, the pasta cooked just a fraction longer than ideal but with lovely crab (14/20).

Service was friendly, and the bill came to €159 (£139) each, with two bottles of very good wine between two of us. If you ordered more modestly and shared a cheap bottle of wine, of which there were plenty on this list, you could eat well here for about £90 per person, and could certainly eat for less if you were judicious in what you ordered. This seems to me very good value, given the exceptionally high quality of the seafood here.

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