Not many people know that Catalonia is an autonomous community, despite the fact that it is situated in northeastern Spain. This independence was in fact, forged not too long ago; on 28 October 2017.
Why is this fact important? Because you’ll then understand the immense pride that Catalonians hold in their unique language, culture and of course, cuisine.
One place that hopes to express this is The Great Mischief, the restaurant that serves The Great Madras hotel on Madras Street.
It’s easy to see the overlaps in Spanish and Catalan cuisine as they both carry plenty of flavour, pride themselves in freshness, and always aim to extend hospitality that makes you feel right at home.
The seating here is cosy and tightly knit exactly for that reason; they want diners to be able to have a dialogue with one another and exchange stories while enjoying great Catalan-inspired cuisine that’s prepared by Chef Ashraf.
Although not halal-certified (yet), this Muslim-owned eatery is already seeing throngs of eager diners from all walks of life.
First up, we had the Coca Bread ($5), which is a traditional Catalan-style bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The bread was fluffy with a slightly crusty exterior and had an interesting sheen to it.
We asked what it was, and were told that it was a drizzling of honey. That explained why it was such a joy to eat.
The Great Mischief also serves non-alcoholic cocktails, which we were very glad to hear aren’t simply just grenadine and cordial-based mixes that have little body or complexity.
We chose Startled ($9), a milky drink that has cinnamon, egg white, kaya, lemon and milk. We’re not usually fans of dairy-based drinks, but this one was pleasantly fresh, light and sweet.
Carb lovers will rejoice in this next dish (as we did). The Patatas Bravas Trufadas ($8) had all the makings of comfort-in-a-bowl, with fried potatoes with truffle oil topped with shaved parmesan, and served with aioli and salsa brava.
Best consumed when it’s still piping hot, there’s nothing that could possibly go wrong when you have truffle oil and cheese on your plate. The salsa brava lent the right amount of acidity to cut through the fat, and before we knew it, the whole bowl was wiped clean.
Want to know what we love about sliders? The fact that we can tell ourselves white lies and say that we ate a couple of burgers for a meal.
The Carne Desmechada Sliders ($8) come in a trio, made with rosemary beef patties, mozzarella, piquillo peppers, and sandwiched between two brioche buns.
Despite their tiny size, the beef patties packed a punch in flavour! The pint-sized pucks were juicy and soft, while the toasted brioche buns had a nice outer crust that gave the sliders a great texture.
One of our favourite dishes of the evening was the Bikini Party ($9) — a quartet of sandwiches filled with black truffle paste, mozzarella and beef bacon. We absolutely cannot decline a hearty grilled cheese sandwich, and this version was definitely an elevated treat.
There was a generous amount of black truffle paste, and the char on the toast was the crunch that is quintessential in a grilled sandwich. Although we knew that carb-loading was going to slow our eating down, we couldn’t help but pick off every last crumb on the plate.
Next up, we had the Gambas Al Ajillo ($8), pan-fried prawns doused in a homemade garlic sauce (lavender, parsley, olive oil, garlic, caster sugar and paprika).
The prawns, as we were informed, were locally-sourced, and were tender yet firm. The sauce itself wasn’t too sweet, and had a lovely salty finish.
Our last main course was the Rabo De Toro ($12), a slow-cooked oxtail stew with carrots, onions, potatoes and tomatoes. The entire dish spent 24 hours in a pressure cooker, resulting in the most supple and moist ox meat that we’ve had in awhile.
Due to its long cooking process, the meat absorbed all the seasonings and turned out to be a piquant dish that we thoroughly enjoyed.
And of course, Churros ($8) was on the menu. We like a churro that is peppered with a generous amount of sugar and cinnamon, while the outside is crisp and the inside, fluffy.
These were a tad too hard for our liking, but we’d give it a thumbs up for not stinging on the sugar! As for the dark chocolate dip, it was certainly a decadent one.
We ended our meal with the Torrijas ($10), a Spanish-style brioche French toast, served with apple compote and fresh fruits.
This dessert wasn’t cloyingly sweet (even with the cinnamon milk cream), which was very much welcomed after the slew of dishes we had just wolfed down. But it did serve as the perfect ending to a great feast of Catalonian cuisine.
Tapas-style servings are an ideal way to share and taste almost an entire menu when you’re dining out in small groups. With The Great Mischief, you’ll be easily lulled into staying on beyond your meal, given the laid-back ambience and the area that makes for ideal people-watching.
Since that evening, we’ve been back once already, and we would absolutely make a return again.
Expected damage: $10 – $30 per pax