Courtesy W Hotels Worldwide
France is renowned for its food, but for all the delicacies that grace its capital city—macarons, pâté, white truffles—tapas has been surprisingly lacking. That is until W Hotels opened its 91-room W Paris-Opéra, next door to the famed Palais Garnier opera house, and chose chef Sergi Arola to head its restaurant, which bears his name. Arola is a fitting choice for bringing Spanish haute cuisine to Paris. He got his start as a protégé of Ferran Adrià (the godfather of Spanish gastronomy and creator of the now-closed El Bulli restaurant) and went on to earn two Michelin stars and win Spain’s National Gastronomy Award for his Madrid restaurant, La Broche.
The flavors and spirit of Catalonia, Arola’s native province, strongly influence the restaurant’s cuisine. The menu philosophy is known as pica pica, or tapas-style—small, intensely flavorful dishes meant to be shared. Each falls into one of three categories: garden, sea or land. There is an elevated take on the tapas staple patatas bravas, in which hollowed-out potatoes (normally diced and dolloped with sauce) are lightly fried and piped full of spicy salsa brava and whipped aioli. There are succulent white sardines dotted with sun-dried tomato oil, and thinly sliced Iberian pork with hot Basque peppers. The experience is full Spanish gastronomical immersion served in an airy room with a view of one of Paris’s most iconic plazas—a cultural collision of the highest (and tastiest) order. 4 Rue Meyerbeer; 33-1/77-48-94-94; restaurant-arola.com.