For all its robustness, Catalan cooking—and Perfecto Rocher’s is a preeminent example—requires serious finesse. A native of Spain’s Valencia region, Rocher finishes the pork fillet with a picadeta, heightening the garnish with chopped rosemary, garlic, and thyme. Made of ground almonds and hazelnuts, the salbitxada sauce perfectly accentuates a plate of grilled green calçot onions. For his cassoleta de fideua negra, he takes calamari, clams, mushrooms, and fideo noodles, cooking them down in squid ink for a dish that is dark as an oil slick and, because of the dollop of aioli, light as a cloud. The space is loud; tables are tight. With whole fish grilling over almond wood coals and chilled fino sherry frosting the glasses, the twin rooms have the vibe of a spot you might discover along a town square in Spain.
The Vibe: Hot, buzzy, happening—or whatever the word is that implies a bunch of people having a grand ol’ time, loudly.
The Crowd: A cultured crew flocks here for Catalonian favorites made with California ingredients. Very cosmopolitan.
The Must-Have Dishes: When gazpacho is in season, this version is the most gussied-up we’ve ever seen, with beet puree and a finishing dollop of caviar. The cassoleta de fideua negra, or squid ink pasta, comes with shrimp, chanterelle, and a honey aioli. Yum. The Drinks: Spanish wines and beers fill the menu, but don’t overlook the Spanish-style dry ciders. They’re delicious with exactly this kind of grub.
Getting a Table: Sunday nights (see below) book up quick, but with a few days’ notice you should be able to get in with the help of OpenTable at a decent hour.
Insider Tip: Sunday is paella night, with a four-course prix-fixe paella menu. Snag a spot if you can!
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