Barcelona’s Via Veneto: Setting the standard for Spanish haute cuisine

By ExtremeFoodies on September 14th, 2016



In 1967, Jose Monje was 24 when he began working as a busboy at the newly-opened Via Veneto in Barcelona.

Born in 1943 in Pobellà, a small town in the province of Lleida, and the son of a peasant family, Monje entered the world of hospitality as a kitchen apprentice working at Barcelona’s Hotel Ritz, Hotel Avenida Palace, Milan and Reno restaurants.



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Once at Via Veneto, Monje worked his way from busboy to waiter and head waiter, then director and finally, in 1978, owner of one of the finest restaurants in Barcelona.

Awarded a Michelin star, the restaurant today is world-famous for its Spanish haute cuisine.

The restaurant’s chef, Sergio Humada, is the son of famous Basque chef Juan Mari Humada. He was running his own restaurant by the time he was 20, and has worked in some of most prestigious restaurants in the world, including El Celler de Can Roca, Mugaritz and Arzak.

Humada’s dishes respect traditional Catalan roots but are executed with contemporary technique and a skillful touch.

A house signature, the Roasted Duck in its Own Juice “A La Presse” has graced the menu since the restaurant opened. Pressed tableside, waiters carve and debone the baby duck, then crush the carcass in a silver press and reduce the resulting au jus in a tiny copper pan.

Another house favorite is the red mullet, served boneless in a Catalonian samfaina stew of peppers, aubergine, tomatoes and onions topped with marinated streaked bacon.

Diners sup amid the restaurant’s old-fashioned Belle Époque-style interior, gleaming with dark wood, black leather and meticulously polished oval mirrors and glass. Brightened by salmon tablecloths and buffed silverware, the dining room spans several levels with intimate corners, seven private dining areas and an upstairs cigar club.

Deep underground, the wine cellar features more than 10,000 bottles and is considered one of the best in Spain.

Like the interior, the service is similarly old-fashioned. While many modern establishments eschew the formal table-waiting set-up of a classic French restaurant, Via Veneto’s staff features waiters in tuxedos and door staff in caps and uniforms.

Diners unsure what to order can choose from the seasonal tasting menu, which changes daily and consists of four courses and a dessert, or the “Great” menu, which features several of the restaurant’s historical dishes.

Through the years, Via Veneto has served its superior Catalan cuisine to such politicians and celebrities as U.S. president Richard Nixon; movie stars Woody Allen, Christopher Lee and Rock Hudson; authors Gabriel Garcia-Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa; painters Salvador Dalí and Miró; musician Xavier Cugat and sports star Pele.

Restaurant lore says Dalí was a frequent visitor to Via Veneto and always sat at the same table. The painter’s frequent antics included requesting chains of raw sausages to hang as necklaces around his date’s neck.

While many of the faces have changed, one remains the same.

Now in his 70s, Monje continues to personally oversee the locally sourced lamb, red coastal shrimp, truffles, asparagus and other ingredients that enter the kitchen daily.

The result: Via Veneto is one of Barcelona’s most sought-after venues for excellent cuisine.

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