In 2003, when I was still the food critic at Barcelona Metropolitan, I received an email from one Jordi Artal via egullet. Having pursued a career in product marketing in Silicon Valley, he decided it was time to return to his mother country when regular-goers to his lavish dinner parties persuaded him he should open his own restaurant. His email was to invite me to come check it out.
Even back then Cinc Sentits was not like other fine dining restaurants. For a start Jordi was self-taught, and, against the odds for anyone in the restaurant business, intent on spending quality time with his family. He brought in his sister Amèlia as sommelier, and his mother Roser to run the front of house; from the very beginning Cinc Sentis sparkled with a devil-may-care creativity that broke the rules. One of his star dishes back then was an amuse-bouche of high-grade Canadian maple syrup topped with the lightest cava infused sabayon, sprinkled with just the right amount of Maldon sea salt flakes. It endures to this day in my memory as one of the greatest treats of all time, and on the menu as a grand finale that goes by the name of ‘Last Temptations’.
Providing a gateway to his childhood food memories is one of the crucial tenets of Jordi’s style of cooking. Through his thoughtfully conceived dishes and witty executions you get a deep sense of family and place and what it means to him. So, when the restaurant moved into a bigger space in 2019 it allowed him to extend the experience and complete the circle through ‘sight, sound, touch, smell and taste’.
“For me it was like coming home,” says Jordi of his decision to invest substantial sums into the new venue. “I wanted to create somewhere that was about returning to roots, that could show diners where we came from.”
Jordi grew up in Canada, but the holidays were for La Torre de l’Espanyol – a tiny village in Southern Catalonia hooked into the arm of the Ebro River and surrounded by fertile lands lush with olive groves and vineyards, as well as almonds, peaches, cherries and apricots.
Read the full story in issue No.13.