Jake was busy on our trip. We were not willing to settle for anything ordinary, and so, in real time, he performed extensive research for each historic site, region, winery, and of course culinary art, like a truffle pig snuffling around in the forest.
In fine dining we want to know where the locals go. The few times we strayed from this philosophy we were sorely disappointed.
Does a Michelin-ranked restaurant that seats about 12 people in a charming space located in the ancient Priorat village of Poboleda meet the criteria? Why yes it does.
Everyone in Priorat recommended Brots. The edgy space does not betray the medieval architecture of the building—and the interior is a visual feast before the culinary trip ever takes off.
Chef Pieter Truyts offers one lunch and one dinner sitting daily. He presides over the kitchen and the dining room as well, happy to serve and meet his clients.
His wife, Silvia Puig, esteemed winemaker for Bodegas y Viñedos Ithaca, also has her true passion, her winery En Numeros Vermells, located in her garage around the corner from Brots.
Of course we had to have her wines. Her vineyards in Priorat range from 30 to 100 years old.
EN NUMEROS VERMELLS — PEDRO XIMÉNEZ
An amazing dry wine, and not what you expect from the primary grape used to make Sherry in Jerez, Spain. This is a bone dry wine with amazing complexity rounded out with bright lively acidity. There are hints of stonefruit, with subtle bitter herbs lifting it out of any overly perfumed notes. This wine has amazing minerality and strength in a long vibrant finish… wish we could get this by the case-load.
On to the restaurant menu. It includes al la carte options, and at the time we visited, two pre-fixe options, one focused on traditional Priorat-influenced cuisine and the second, Chef Truyts menu reflecting his culinary passions. Of course we chose the second option.
Our meal started out with a basket of house made bread. Two slices were flavored, one with the local tomatoes, and the other with red wine. The remaining bread consisted of whole wheat and traditional biscuits. In Catalunya, bread is mostly served with no butter, and occasionally with olive oil. This meal included local olive oil.
It was amazing!
The amuse-bouche was served in a quirky mold of Chef Truyts hand. It was fun and creepy at the same time. The plate included a traditional house made sausage, smoked pork cheek, and locally cured green olives with Vermouth (or as they call it Vermut) infusers.
Coca de pimienta con salmón marinado y anet (marinated salmon with roasted red pepper and anise sorbet)
This was an amazing start, a “wow” moment. The savory sorbets were used at two or three of the restaurants we visited. Can’t wait to play with making some for our YouTube channel! The salmon was so perfectly cured (or as they say, marinated), it was simple, and showed the pure fresh flavor of the fish. The complexity of flavors on this first plate where such a party in our mouths.
Ensalada Couscous con langostinos (cous cous salad with shrimp)
A delightfully simple salad made extraordinary with a spiced foam dollop providing a creamy counter-balance to the rustic couscous and buttery langostinos.
After the langostinos our wine transitioned to a classic Priorat red of 100% Cariñena, from a 1919-planted vineyard.
EN NUMEROS VERMELLS — CARIÑENA
We arrived in Priorat thinking it was all about the Garnatxa (Grenache), and although Garnatxa is a very important grape in the region, Cariñena is the true king. In Priorat, there is passion for this ancient and misunderstood grape (we wrote extensively about it here). The Priorat Cariñenas are dark, brooding, rich, with hints of smoke, bacon fat, and dark rich berries, often backed up with subtle notes of black pepper. This is a firm wine and extremely enjoyable as presented but also offering major aging potential.
Hand-numbered bottle #517 of 911 paired fantastically with our main course.
Butifarra de pollo con queso azul, humus y molleja ahumada (Catalunyan chicken sausage with corn pudding, queso cheese cream, and hummus)
Butifarra is one of the most important sausages in all of Catalunya. Jake the sausage king was in sausage heaven. (He didn’t appreciate this title.)
This butifarra was one of the best we had; made with chicken, instead of the more traditional pork and beef. The spiciness of the sausage was in perfect harmony with the sweet corn, lively acidic cream, and dense hummus. It hit every note a gustatory celebration would expect!
While continuing to sip our amazing Carineña, our dessert was presented with just as much wow and verve as every course before it.
Melón marinado, rubarbo y helado de romero (marinated melon with rhubarb gelato and honey)
Some desserts can end up contrived—creative use of stale bread, chocolate this or that. Chef Truyts wasn’t about to offer anything so trite. This meal finished strong and fabulous to the very end.
The brilliant marinated melon boasted a firm, vibrant texture, perfected countered by the tart/sweet rhubarb gelato and drizzle of local honey to give it some rich sweet notes.
Next came the requisite cappuccino for me and curtado for Jake.
But that wasn’t all!
Chef Truyts appeared tableside, set treats in front of us, and explained, “the details.” A new culinary term for us: the “details”! —an assortment of house baked cookies baked on sticks and served on a small tree branch - wow moment to the very end for sure!
Brots is so worth any effort you may make while traveling in Catalunya, Spain. It’s remote, unassuming and profound. We had one window to get in. Just the week prior the restaurant was closed for staff holiday. Making reservations can only happen via a phone call, and we were used to using text or making reservations using the European app TheFork.
How to get into Brots?
At the end of our wonderful winery tour at Mas Doix (read about it here), our wonderful guide Blanca, was kind enough to call and make a lunch reservation for us. The locals we met are so friendly and helpful with navigating such experiences. We had several moments when someone recommending an eatery would get on the phone and help us make appropriate reservations. Don’t be afraid to ask!
How can I argue with a treasured Michelin rating, it’s well deserved. Literally the only thing that I would change was the scented detergent used for laundering the table linens. I want any linens used near my sense of smell to be neutral, nothing should mask the scents of the wine and food.
Rating: 98 — one of the best meals we have ever had.