This second visit to Villa Más was prompted by my father’s 80th birthday, and since he lives a few miles away from S’Agaró, I invited my parents for lunch there. The site is quite nice, especially at this time of the year, when the weather is good but the tourists are far away. The beach is a few steps away, so the Villa Más terrace is an ideal place for Sunday lunch for five.
My blogging is fairly sparse these days, so I hesitate to refer to my friend Joan Gómez Pallarès and Vincent Pousson as “fellow wine bloggers”; anyhow, both live in Barcelona and strongly recommended going back to Villa Màs.
I remembered from the previous visit how spectacular the wine list was, particularly on French wines , and especially Burgundy. What I did not remember is how good the prices are. Grange des Pères and Peyre Rose are both 70 Euro, which is amazing, considering that in France you would pay close to double that amount. Catalan restaurants have this nice habit of not charging 4-5 times the purchase price, which is standard in France.
The food at Villa Más is quite remarkable too. The chef really knows what he’s doing. My pig’s trotters (peus de porc) with sea cucumbers (esparenyes) were beautifully served – 4 circles of finely chopped meat topped with a thin disc of crackling and an espardenya. Beautiful visuals led to a wonderful array of textures, from the rich soft slowly cooked meat with its gelatinous consistency to the cracking crackling and the delicate fibrous sea cucumber, a great match, perfectly executed. Same goes for the rest of the family’s choices, like monkfish with iberic bacon, or “macaroni” with Idiazábal cheese.
A set 3-course menu is available for 24 Euro; this is what my parents took, and it was a really good deal.
The only remark about the food, and it is hard to find fault when everything was so masterfully prepared: the total absence of vegetables is a throwback to France 20 years ago, when other than Alain Passard and a few others, most chefs thought cooking was about meat and fish.
Clearly Villa Más is run by a very knowledgeable wine lover, and a very talented chef. So with great food and great wines what can go wrong? The service!
The service is friendly enough but so totally chaotic and disorganized that it ends up feeling distant, too busy to be interested in your food experience or to make you feel welcome. While the staff was impeccably dressed in black and white, the head waitress was in jeans and a tee-shirt: it was as if the director of the orchestra had lost his partition (and his suit). Waiters come and go rapidly, spending the minimal amount of time at your table to take orders and bring plates.
Even the wine service was aloof and distracted, as if the sommelier did not really care about what I ordered. I was handed the massive wine list by the waitress, and another waitress took my order; the sommelier only showed up to uncork the bottle, and never offered any advice. The fact that I spent some time admiring the wine list did not get me any better treatment than the coke-drinking Panamera-driving beach types at the other tables. Anyhow, the Peyre Rose was not available, the Grange des Pères red that I ordered never came (neither did an apology), and I was half way through my main course, when I had to finally insist that they immediately bring us the Chablis 1er Cru Forêt 2005 that was ordered 20 minutes earlier for those who were eating fish. So I drank Chablis with pig’s trotters, a world first.
Given the service issues, I also find it silly that a restaurant of this caliber also has a 2.80 Euro cover charge for “pa i cobert” (we never did get any bread…), like the cheap beach restaurants in Platja d’Aro.
I hear that the owner of Villa Más has opened a wine bar restaurant in Girona called… Plaça del Vi 7 (the name is the address of the place, Wine Square, and the number 7 in Catalan, “set”, also means thirst…). Perhaps this new exciting place is causing the restaurant in s’Agaró to lose focus?
Overall, this being a special birthday meal, I decided to ignore the “details” and concentrate on the family, the truly excellent food and the great wines. But I understand now why this potentially great restaurant is not even mentioned in the Michelin guide. I believe that all it would take is a minimum of coordination to make this a star restaurant.