Like two elongated pylons, the latticed-steel towers of Torre Sant Sebastià and Torre Jaume I are unmistakable landmarks on Barcelona's horizon. Strung between them is the Montjuïc cablecar, which crosses high over the port to the hill of Montjuïc at the southern end of the city. Below is a tapestry of gleaming white yachts bobbing in the harbour, and fanning out from here are the beaches of Barceloneta. The restaurants around the port are predominately seafood-focused, drawing on their prime position to serve up the freshest produce. But above the cable car terminal, on the top floor of Torre Sant Sebastià, Torre d'Alta Mar has taken seafood to new heights.
The cuisine is high-altitude, high-class Mediterranean cooking, with modern interpretations of Spanish classics. On my visit, the menu included a rich and garlicky version of the classic Andalucian chilled almond soup ajo blanco with herring caviar-sprinkled escalivada (a Catalan terrine of grilled vegetables), a single raviolo stuffed with mushrooms and drizzled with a rich truffle cream, arroz cremoso (a variation of risotto) with juicy prawns, and succulent monkfish on a bed of tangy squid-ink spaghetti. Desserts were less traditional but no less indulgent: hot hazelnut sponge cake with a liquid praline centre and Tahitian vanilla ice-cream, and vanilla ice-cream in a cold chocolate soup, dotted with wild berries.
There aren't many views to rival those from Torre d'Alta Mar. The restaurant occupies the top deck of the Sant Sebastià tower, which looms 78m above Barcelona's Port Vell. The doorman ushers you in to a glass lift at street level and you soar up to the top of the tower. The port and beaches recede as you head skywards and the entire city gradually becomes visible. The tower was built in 1931 but the restaurant's interior is entirely modern, with suitably exclusive furnishings – glossy wooden floors, sparkling white tablecloths, retro-modern white chairs, white leather banquettes and theatrically black walls and drapes. But the sultry decor is just a backdrop for the views. The circular room has 360-degree windows, which – day or night – provide a unique perspective and magnificent panorama of the city.
By day, you can see the city draped down the surrounding hills and spilling down towards the medieval buildings of the gothic quarter and palm tree-lined Port Vell, punctuated by the majestic Columbus Monument. Beyond is the shimmering blue Mediterranean, criss-crossed by ships and boats. As dusk falls, a dramatic picture emerges as twinkling lights blanket the city, reflected on the yachts and water below.
If the altitude hasn't made you feel giddy, the bill may well do: a three-course dinner for two will set you back around €200 (£143), including wine and service.
Torre d'Alta Mar, Torre Sant Sebastià, Passeig Joan de Borbó 88, Barcelona, Spain (00 34 93 221 00 07; www.torredealtamar.com). Open 1pm-3.30pm and 7-11pm, closed Sundays and Monday lunchtime.Reuse content