Sue Style gives her verdict on Les Cols...
Originally published in Decanter magazine in partnership with Hine Cognac
Les Cols, Olot, Spain
Ctra. de la Canya, 17800 Olot, Spain
Tel: +34 972 269 209
- Rating: 7.5/10
- Open 1-3.30pm and 8.30-10.30pm, but closed Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday.
- Tasting menus from €95; with wine pairing €150
- Wine to try: Picapoll-Malvasia
The drive up to Les Cols in Olot takes you past the darkly brooding, extinct volcanoes of the Garrotxa region of Catalonia, interspersed with golden stone masia farmhouses, Romanesque churches and patchwork fields. The landscape was captured by the 19th-century Olot School of painters in shades of charcoal with muted greys, browns and golds, which sets the tone for a meal at Fina Puigdevall’s restaurant.
From the outside, the restaurant – awarded its second Michelin star in 2010 – looks like (and is) a traditional family masia, while the interior space is startlingly modern-minimalist with extensive use of stone, roughcast concrete, dark metal and glass. There are two dining spaces: one is more intimate, in chic black-and-tan with views out to the (colour-coordinated) house chickens and the kitchen garden; the other long and thin, dominated by a huge, golden refectory table and flanked by shimmering, gilded, waterfall-like walls.
Both tasting menus are resolutely seasonal and sourced extensively from the garden. For a chef to sustain the ‘gotcha’ factor through 12 courses is a challenge, and it’s met only in part: a small bowl of carmine beet juice with milky-white almonds floating on top was pretty but vacuous, and the three desserts turned out to be two too many, albeit redeemed by the volcanic chocolate combo. Standouts included a warm, velvety custard of ceps and a trembling poached egg whose yolk coursed out over tiny chanterelles into an intense meaty jus. I loved a chunk of bacalao, its perfectly desalinated, snowy flakes topped with ceps, and a nugget of slow-cooked Duroc pork with peach slices, mellow and melting.
The Catalan artisan cheeses are a high point, aged to perfection and arranged like a dramatic still-life on a sleek black trolley.
The wine list digs deeply into Catalonia with a bent towards the natural end of the spectrum. The pairing option included a pleasing Picapoll-Malvasia from biodynamic estate Mas Oller in Empordá; a bright, floral white PX-Moscatell blend from Terroir al Límit in Priorat; a fresh, fragrant Pinot Noir grown at 1,000 metres by Acusp in Costers del Segre; and a Santbru Carinyena from Portal del Montsant’s centenarian vineyards.
Perhaps unexpectedly for Spain (albeit far northeast Spain), Les Cols has something of a Nordic feel to it. Infused with the same locavore spirit, it’s all of a piece with the Garrotxa landscape: cool, understated, austerely beautiful and totally coherent. Tasting menu €95; with wine pairing €150.
Sue Style is a widely published freelance writer on wine, food and travel. To read more restaurant reviews subscribe to Decanter magazine
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