A meat-lover’s paradise housed in the elegant Alexandra Hotel
As the great Winston Churchill once declared, “My tastes are simple. I am easily satisfied with the best”. And this stylish hotel restaurant is the kind of place Churchill would have thoroughly approved of.
Occupying two levels of the ultra-stylish Alexandra Hotel in the suitably chic Eixample barrio, Solomillo is a charcuterie and brasserie in one, specializing in quality meats ordered by weight. The menu isn’t huge, but rest assured that what it lacks in volume it makes up for in quality. It’s funny, actually, there’s a lot of talk about how this new gastro haunt offers “a new discovery” and a “pioneering gastronomic offering”. In truth, however, it is merely reviving an ancient and largely traditional way of eating meat, albeit in a more sophisticated manner.
Downstairs at street level you’ll find the bar and charcuterie, a casual space where you can swing by for a quick drink and a few nibbles on cheese platters, assorted hams and Iberian cold cuts. It’s slick and modern, with lots of slate-grey marble, iron and dark wood. Handsome stuff indeed.
But upstairs is the star attraction, with Solomillo’s elegant brasserie. The seating runs elegantly along the walls, with stylish green benches and vintage lamps that give it a Parisian sophistication. The jazz cafe soundtrack certainly adds to the “Frenchy" feel. Tables feature a sort of paper tablecloth, on which the friendly waiters write your order, specifying which cut of meat you have chosen and how you’ve asked for it to be cooked. Be warned that they cook meat the “proper way”: rare means it’s hardly cooked at all, medium is what many would deem to be rare and even well-done is still a bit pink. So if you like your steak well-cooked, be sure to make a point of it.
Onto the main event. The concept is beautifully simple: first you order the breed of meat, choosing from French Salers, Nebraskan Black Angus, Spanish Frisian or Rubia Gallega (from Galicia). Then you decide how much meat you want (by weight). Order multiple smaller cuts of 125 g if you want to try more than one type or go all out and order a hefty 500 g steak if you’re in beast mode.
Once your meat’s ordered it’s time to choose an accompanying sauce — the Béarnaise, cafe de Paris, blue cheese, black pepper or mustard are all beautifully made, rich and gratifying. The staff are well-trained and know which ones to suggest based on whatever type of meat you have ordered, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
Sides include an excellent range of homegrown vegetables from the hotel’s garden — French browned carrots with cumin, candied leeks, grilled asparagus and gratin dauphinoise. Again, it’s all about the quality of the produce. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so excited about the flavour of a carrot.
The wine list is proudly Spanish, focusing largely on local Catalan wines from boutique bodegas, although there are, unsurprisingly, a few French Champagnes and rosés from the Còtes de Provence. Ask your server for recommendations to accompany each course if you're planning on trying a few different dishes, or do as I did stick to the first one that catches your attention. A bottle of 2013 Furvus red from the DO Montsant made for a robust but loyal companion on my carnivorous crusade.
Finish with homemade cakes and tarts if you have any room left, before retiring the hotel’s leafy internal patio for a cocktail under the stars.
By Ben Holbrook http://www.driftwoodjournals.com
SolomilloCarrer de Mallorca, 251, 08008 Barcelona, Spain
Area: Eixample right
Website: Solomillo - Barcelona
Opening hours: Mon – Sun 10am to 1am
Phone: +34 934 67 77 55
Metro/Bus: Diagonal, Provença