Rioba is the name of a the new restaurant in Poble Sec led by the Argentine Eduardo Marchesi and the Basque Ekaitz Sáenz, two good friends who met in Barcelona and have more than 15 years of training and experience in the restaurant world.
They talk about Rioba like their “second son” — the first is Koska taverna, a pintxo bar that’s been forging a path for several years on the busy Blai street. Rioba, however, has a very different concept from the first, based primarily on food from the market.
“We don’t like to categorize ourselves to one type of food, we like to make what we like to eat and drink, and we won’t settle one bit.”
The cuisine of Rioba is simple, local, “without labels” but with much technique, where seasonal products play the starring role. It’s for this that the menu centers around the preparation of a few high-quality dishes that change form periodically. “The idea is to take advantage of seasonal products and mistreat them as little as possible, handling them lightly to highlight their quality,” Ekaitz reaffirms.
With respect to techniques used in their kitchen, Eduardo comments that on one plate it’s possible to find 4 or 5 different cooking methods. He highlights, for example, the vacuum-sealed food, at a low temperature, on the coals and in brines. Their kitchen is clearly influenced by their origins and experiences.
The first representation of Rioba arrives to the table: an “ugly” Tudela tomato with tender grilled garlic and fried guindilla de ibarra chilis, a plate that’s low on “ugly” but high on flavor. They follow it with European spider crab raviolis, soft in texture and intense in flavor, all a discovery for the palate.
We continue with the fish of the day, which in this case is a sea bass cooked at a low temperature and finished on the coals with a bulgur salad with citrus touches, mini carrots and wild asparagus. And we were surprised by the marrow and red prawn, a combination that didn’t leave anyone indifferent.
We finished the round of main courses with a glazed beef rib, cooked at 65 degrees for 24 hours, with a texture so soft it falls apart in your mouth. The dish came accompanied by a salad of grilled peaches, pickled radish and carrot. It’s the perfect representation of the mix of techniques behind each dish at Rioba.
And since we could not go without trying the dessert, we finish with pineapple, coconut and lime, a lime biscuit, pineapple cooked at a low temperature with rosemary and white chocolate creme and coconut. As if this weren’t enough, a chocolatísimo also arrives, which consists of a dark chocolate creme, ganache of chocolate with milk, brownie and a crème anglaise with saffron.
It’s not only their type of food that enchants us, but also the space itself. A kitchen in full view, natural light that enters through the ceiling, exposed-brick walls. The atmosphere is modern but feels local, and it’s perfect for the type of food they serve.
A celebration of dishes and flavors, that far from being pretentious, calls much attention to its textures, combinations, and forms of preparation. An honest and local cuisine that, without any doubt, is worth it to go to try, to give you an idea of what Rioba is.
Hours: Tuesdays to Saturdays: 8pm to 11pm / Saturdays and Sundays: 1pm to 3:30pm
Average price: 35€
Text: Kathrin Behrens
Photos: Anel González