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Biocenter Barcelona restaurant review

Here we are, the fourth restaurant into my stay in Barcelona, and things are going pretty well – not a duff meal among them. I had high hopes for my next meal out, at Biocenter. The menu looked good, the place itself was pretty and there were already a good few diners getting stuck in.

Biocenter is a veggie place with a good few vegan options marked on the menu, and a pick-and-mix approach to its food – a bit of French here, a bit of Thai there,  and why not some Japanese for a laugh too? It looked a bit all over the place, but there was a lot that appealed, so me and Mr Flicking the Vs went in anyway.

There's also a three-course set menu for €14.95 that looked pretty good value – on our visit, it was salad or a choice of soups for starter; breaded seitan, gnocchi in pumpkin sauce and something non-vegan I forget for main; and a dessert of your choice.

We both body swerved the set menu and picked from the standard offerings – I went for sushi, my other half for a cheesy aubergine dish (he's not vegan, as you probably spotted).

The two meals emerged a good while later, while we developed food envy watching a big table of diners brought their set menus – the soup wasn't stingy and the seitan looked phenomenal.

By the time our meals turned up, expectation was high. On looks alone, the sushi didn't disappoint – dainty pinwheels of colourful rice, a heap of seaweed salad, and a big pink bloom of pickled ginger like the plate's corsage.

Then... my spider-senses went off. There was some white stuff in the middle of the sushi – I crossed my fingers it was tofu and called the waitress over to check.

It wasn't. It was goats cheese.

But it was vegan on the menu, I said. Yes, she said, but it was goat's cheese, it was the first time it had happened, and if I had told her I was vegan...

If I had told her I was vegan? The dish was marked as vegan on the menu! What was called for after that fuck-up was a grovelling apology and a vegan sushi replacement.  Neither were forthcoming – the best I got was a sort of disappointed shrug.  The non-vegan sushi was taken away, and a couple of minutes later, the waitress returned and said that the chef couldn't make up a completely vegan sushi for me (despite the fact that the menu described the sushi as vegan to start with, and at least half the rolls didn't have any goat's cheese in).

I could, I was told, have anything else I wanted.  I'd rather lost my appetite after the run-in with cheese, but I opted for the seitan (again, marked as vegan on the menu and the waitress confirmed it was animal-free, for whatever that's worth.)

The replacement seitan came after my other half had finished his cheesy aubergine dish (it was marked as having parmesan in, which also set off alarm bells – doesn't true parmesan have rennet in it? Fingers crossed they were using a parmesan-like veggie equivalent. How likely that is, I leave to you to work out.)

The seitan, when it arrived, was lovely – four huge slabs of chewy, flavourful seitan wrapped in breadcrumbs and seseame seeds, perched on a mound of a tiny bit lumpy mashed potatoes, and covered in a big load of red wine sauce with a nice tang  of orange running it through it.

It was delicious. If only I could have got that first and been spared the sodding cheese.

For reasons that aren't overly clear in hindsight, we opted for dessert. Again, I ran through the pantomime of 'what's vegan on the menu? Is it really vegan?' with the waiteress and ended up going for the carrot and tofu cake.

It was fairly light, lightly cinnamon-y, but a bit dry and disappointingly parsimonious with the icing. Say carrot cake and I think of icing laid on with a trowel, rather than with a paintbrush.

It was fine, if unmemorable. If I only I could have said the same for the rest of the meal – alas the visit to Biocenter is one that sticks in the memory, as much for the un-vegan veganness of the sushi as for the deliciousness of the seitan. 

25 Carrer del Pintor Fortuny
Barcelona, Spain
(+34) 680 14 62 52

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  1. Ugh! It makes me crazy when I order something vegan, then the waitress asks if I really am. . .I had that happen a few months ago, and I actually started laughing at her. The seitan dish does look like a good choice.

    I LOVE traveling vicariously through these posts! :)

    1. Brilliant - glad to hear it because there's still a good few more coming! (Anyone who hates them, good news - they'll be done by the end of the week!)

  2. sorry to hear about that experience. What a fuck up. But then again, I'm amazed your getting the vegan food you are in Spain as it stands. It does though sour the whole experience when you have a run-in. My friend was telling me the other day that he'd gone out for a birthday meal at a place that shall remain nameless, and when he'd tried to take a photo of his food as the presentation was so good, they came running over and stopped him. Not quite the same experience but you get the idea. You kind of don't feel comfortable at a place after something goes wrong I think.

    1. How odd - and clearly shooting themselves in the food, given your friend really liked the presentation!

      And yes, I definitely felt uncomfortable for the rest of the meal. Still, on the upside, lots of the food I had in Spain was really, really good!

  3. Goat's cheese in sushi? Weeeird. I can't believe they would mark something in the menu as vegan, and then make it non-vegan. So annoying! And isn't making vegan sushi one of the easiest things on the planet to do? At least you ended up getting a good plate of food, but still. Yeesh.

    1. True - I did eat well once they'd fixed up a replacement meal! And yes, how hard is it to make vegan sushi anyway - rice, meet veggies. Done!


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