Cera 23: an authentic gastronomic gem in the Raval

cera 23 ferrero rocher lava cake

very year, when December rolls around, a new and Very Important Entry appears on my to-do list. No, not Christmas shopping – or writing my letter to Santa, for that matter. Far more crucially, I have to pick a restaurant for the Top Tips Christmas meal!

Last year we went to the brilliantly creative Agust in the Born quarter, so the bar was set pretty high this year!

I won’t pretend it was easy to find just the right place. I spent hours scouring the internet before I found a little spot tucked away down a side-street in the heart of the Raval which looked to be pretty much perfect for our needs: Cera 23, a gastrobar founded by a group of 3 friends in 2011.

gastrobar cera 23

Nobody had recommended it to me, and I’d never been, but I had a good feeling about the place. I don’t know if it was intuition, professional skill or sheer dumb luck, but when I saw the looks on my colleague’s faces as they perused the Cera 23 menu, I knew I’d struck gold.

Let’s face it, it would be hard not to drool over the menu…

Cera 23: fusion cuisine and classics with a twist

The menu, available in English and French as well as Spanish and Catalan, features a sophisticated blend of modern and more classic dishes, making great use of authentic Spanish ingredients.

tataki at cera 23

As anyone who’s ever been out for a meal with me can tell you,  I’m big on sharing – of the “can I try a bit of yours?” variety. Well, it’s for a good reason – how else can I write well-informed articles? In any case, it means I get to taste more things and tell you all about them, so it’s a win-win situation.

So, on to the starters. I tried Enrique’s ceviche-with-a-twist, Joel’s delicious Gallician octopus, Toni’s tasty tuna and red berry tartare, Jean-Paul’s mouthwatering beef tataki, Maite’s melt-in-the-mouth pesto burratina, and Benjamin’s beef with truffle.

Everything was absolutely delicious, but I was just as happy with my own choice, a vibrant, light tomato tartare with mango mousse. Simply incredible!

tartare de tomates du cera 23

Obviously, I also took a sip of everyone’s cocktails (what? it’s my job!), all of which were original and interesting. The famous blackberry mojito, well-presented and supremely well-balanced, has become iconic at Cera 23.

cocktails at cera 23

Oddly enough, I wasn’t really hungry when the main courses arrived, but it didn’t stop me from devouring every last grain of the spectacular truffle and cep risotto which I had selected: the flavours were perfectly balanced, and it was love at first bite.

I also tried the fabulous liver ravioli with almond sauce, picked by Joel, Benjamin’s tender slow-cooked lamb, and the spectacular black rice “volcano” chosen by Maite and Enrique.

black rice volcano cera 23

The black rice volcano is one of the stars of the show at Cera 23, and it’s just as good to look at as it is to eat. It’s made up of a mountain of rice (the volcano) with saffron sauce (the lava), and topped off with flakes of dried tuna, which crackle as they’re warmed by the heat from the rice (representing smoke). Yes, it requires a little imagination, but the effect is pretty impressive – an edible work of art!

Desserts at Cera 23

Given the generous portion sizes (and possibly my pickings from everyone else’s), I didn’t have room for dessert. Thankfully, however, the rest of the team came up trumps.

As the waiter just happened to give me a spoon at the same time as everybody else, I put it to good use in order to taste the offering everyone else was practically swooning over: a Ferrero Rocher lava cake with caramel ice cream on a bed of light custard, topped off with tiny balls of popping candy (see top photo). It. Was. Amazing.

The cheesecake fans among us were also more than happy with Cera 23’s “deconstructed” version with berries.

cheesecake at cera 23

Cera 23: prices

Given the quality of the products on offer, the generous portion sizes and the creative talents of the chef, the price of a meal at Cera 23 seems perfectly reasonable.

Starters cost from €9 – 13, mains €13 – 17, and the generously-proportioned desserts come in at around €5 – 6.

In short, a meal at Cera 23 will set you back between 30 and 40 euros depending on appetite.

Cera 23: a welcoming and relaxed setting

cera 23 interior

Inside, Cera 23 offers a simple but welcoming dining area. A pretty exposed stone wall adds an authentic touch, and the whole feel is very relaxed. The waiters are friendly and efficient, moving from the open kitchen to tables and back again with speed and discretion.

What else is there to say? Well, one important thing: don’t forget to book. Cera 23 has been attracting rave reviews and the gastrobar fills up quickly. It’d be a shame to miss out on some seriously exciting inventive cuisine…

With warmest thanks to Maite, Enrique, Joel, Toni, Benjamin and Jean Paul for letting me pinch their food, and a shout out to Goretti, who’s off on maternity leave. To all of you, to Goretti and to her new baby – cheers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *