Senderens (9 Place de la Madeleine, Paris 8e, 0142652290): what hope is there of finding a last-minute table at super-chef Alain Senderens’ fabulously redecorated and voluntarily de-starred restaurant on a Tuesday night during the busy Batimat building material exhibition here in Paris? Crise-oblige, it was not a problem, and so on the spur of the moment we returned to this grand establishment, which I visited over ten years ago, when my friend Harry generously invited us here for his birthday; back then it was called Lucas Carton, the cooking was superb, Alain Senderens was still in the kitchen, and it was incredibly pricy the way only Parisian 3-star restaurants can be.
On Wednesday evening February 18 I met Joan Gómez Pallarès to discover this incredible laboratory of wine and taste sensations, certainly unique in this world, called Mon Vínic (c / Diputació 249 Barcelona – Eixample, +34-932726187) – in Catalan, “The World of Wine”. Surprisingly not very well known, despite the level of ambition of the project and the huge investment required, it is a sensational place for wine lovers, made magical by:
• its rich collection of wines, thousands of bottles from all over the world, including some very old Malaga bottles reaching back to 1795, all available for tasting or meals at prices barely above what you pay for them at a wine merchant’s, even those that have rested in the cellar for a few years (aging is free!).
• its incredible architecture all in wood, concrete and stainless steel signed Alfons Tost,
• the documentation center, a library of books and magazines about wine from around the world, with several terminals to connect to the internet or the place’s wine database.
• the extraordinary competence and kindness of its sommeliers under the leadership of César Cánovas and Isabelle Brunet,
• the creativity strongly rooted in terroir and tradition of chef Sergi De Meià, whose dishes may be enjoyed in the “culinary space”, where some forty guests can be seated at two long white tables to enjoy their meal, with wines selected for this incredible cellar by means of touch screens on tablet PCs that provide access to the cellar’s database, including photos of the labels, information on the winery, etc..
• the selection of wines by the glass or half-glass: every day fifty labels are available in the restaurant or at the wine bar for ridiculously low prices.
• the class or conference room, used as a tasting workshop space
• the wine bar, a relaxing place for tasting wine