Mey Hofmann was born in Germany but moved to Barcelona as a professional caterer. She set up Hofmann in 1982 as a cross between cookery school and restaurant. This is a one star Michelin restaurant slightly to the north of the centre of Barcelona. The team in the kitchen is a mix of experienced chefs and a large number of trainees of the school – no less than 24 trainees on the evening we visited, making a crowded kitchen. Bread was all home-made, including foccacia, a roll with ewes milk cheese, delicate brioche with bacon, olive bread and a sesame roll (17/20). A nibble of potato with red pimento and mayonnaise had excellent flavour, prettily presented with a prawn cracker (17/20).
The dining room had a tiled floor, low ceiling and wood-panelled dining room, with wooden chairs and black upholstery. A flower display with a lily as the centrepiece was on each table. The wine list was 29 pages in length, and was fairly priced, with Spanish classics such as Mas la Plana Torres 2003 at EUR 69, Vina Ardanza 2000 at EUR 35, Alion 2003 at EUR 89 and the superb and rare Rioja Alta 890 1994 (Robert Parker 91.5/100) at EUR 99.
Nibbles were interesting, a mix of assorted homemade potato crisps, a test tube of cream with salmon eggs and a fine starter of salt cod (17/20). Next was potatoes with a little red pepper crisp with remarkable intensity of flavour, and a sauce of tomatoes and peppers (15/20 though the red pepper crisp was much better than this).
The first full dish was a tarte fine of sardines, onions and tomato served warm. The pastry was very light and the sardines had great flavour, and this dish was a really fine example of what can be done with simple but high quality ingredients, presented skilfully (18/20). Morels stewed with foie gras had rich foie gras and reasonable morels in a cream sauce with a few chives as garnish, a rich dish that could have done with some balancing acidity (16/20). I had a fine dish of pigeon served with spicy onion chutney and caramelised onion, the pigeon of a high standard, cooked pink, served with a crispy leg of pigeon as a texture contrast (18/20).
Desserts were intricately presented. Creme brulee in a pastry case was very delicate, served with red fruits (18/20). Millefeuille of red fruits was technically capable (17/20). Crispy chocolate stuffed with coconut, liquid toffee and a praline hazelnut ice cream was beautifully presented with a spun sugar bag with toasted hazelnuts (18/20).
Coffee was good (17/20) served with petit-fours: superb passion fruit jelly (19/20), a light biscuit (16/20), a chocolate truffle with praline wafer (18/20), lemon curd on a biscuit base with a chocolate garnish (16/20) and a truffle (16/20). Service was very impressive all evening, efficient and friendly. I was genuinely surprised by the cooking here, which was consistently at two-star rather than one-star level, and if anything my 17/20 score feels mean. Using a lot of trainees means there are plenty of willing hands to do elaborate plating, and perhaps we did unusually well because this batch of trainees happen to be approaching the end of their training year. Even so, this was impressive cooking.