There’s meat, but you can’t see it

There are animal proteins at 4amb5Mujades in Barcelona, but only as broth and jus

by Philippe Regol
Yakitori Aubergine, one of the signature dishes in

Yakitori Aubergine, one of the signature dishes in the brand new 4amb5Mujades in Barcelona. This is the latest interesting project signed by Javier Cotorruelo and Toni Romero, ex chef at elBulli, next door to motherhouse Suculent

We’re not sure the concept behind restaurant 4 Amb 5 Mujades is completely new, but we can guarantee that the opening of a restaurant with these characteristics, in the Raval neighbourhood in Barcelona, can be considered a bit of an event.

This is the latest project of Javier Cotorruelo, the owner of Suculent, and of his chef Toni Romero, ex elBulli, next door to the motherhouse. It’s an authentic neighbourhood delicatessen, only 20 metres away, if we also count the small tapas tavern. It was conceived as a tribute to the family vegetable garden in Gavà, a few kilometres from the centre of Barcelona.

The mujada is an old unit of measurement used by Catalan farmers: it equals around 5 thousand square metres. The vegetable garden supplies the restaurant with vegetables, tubers, herbs, flowers. However, one must immediately point out this is not a vegetarian restaurant in the classic sense, though some dishes are, and they are indicated as such. To put it simply, the offer has vegetables taking the main role while animal proteins do appear but only in the shape of jus or broth, to enhance flavours, next to herbs, spices and other seasonings. It is a very different menu from the one at nearby Suculent in which half of the scene is occupied by steak tartare, oxtail and bone marrow.

The Waldorf salad, transposed in a Celery skewer (photo from Twitter 4amb5Mujades)

The Waldorf salad, transposed in a Celery skewer (photo from Twitter 4amb5Mujades)

4 Amb 5 Mujades therefore is not a place for vegans or with tasteless dishes. Flavours, sometimes intense, are hidden everywhere. From the delicious take on the Waldorf salad, dissimulated in a Celery skewer, to the Beetroots in quail juice, including the nice Japanese chard with sesame, shallot, soy and trout roe.

This is popular cuisine interpreted in a simple and modern way, as in the case of the Vegetables en suquet, with a case of cinnamon, or more avantgarde as with the Cauliflower mushroom (sparassis crispa) which simulates the traditional tripe and chickpeas. An intelligent illusion.

But perhaps the dish that stands out the most in the menu is the Jerusalem artichoke with pil pil of codfish skin with a purée of mashed garlic and baby onions in brine. Intense flavour and delicious jelly texture paired with these small notes of crispy acidity, roasted garlic and hot chilli pepper. 10. It reminded me of the Codfish skin in a broth of truffle and soft almonds served at El Bulli in the mid Nineties. A period which, as a joke, we ended up calling a trash cooking time, in which everything was skin, tomato or pepper seeds… Too bad the menu at 4amb5 (in Catalan Quatre amb Cinc, “four or five”) changes often: you can find these dishes only for a few weeks.

Quim Coll, executive chef di 4amb5 Mujades, under the aegis of Toni Romero

Quim Coll, executive chef di 4amb5 Mujades, under the aegis of Toni Romero

Pay attention to how the menu is structured: it goes far beyond the list of dishes and their prices. It indicates the bearing and the type of animal proteins. And the wine list, designed by Antonio Lopo, ex sommelier at Comerç 24, Carles Abellán’s restaurant now closed, is a personal an passionate ode to small wine producers from here and there. Natural wines, red medium bodied wines we like a lot, perfect to pair with this kind of comida, and biodynamic wines in the style of Nicolas Joly.

4 Amb 5 Mujades
Rambla del Raval, 45
Barcelona, Spaain
Closed on Sunday and Monday