June 21, 2013
The quality of the food and the experience of eating brought so much joy at these three fantastic places. However, we did have our share of culinary low points on this trip. Although it happens to everyone, maybe we can spare you some pain.
We were really hungry and when we looked at our City Maps 2Go, there were no restaurants which did not require a metro ride. On this trip we were four and when the hunger alarm starts to ring, it rings loud. So we settled and stepped into the first decent looking restaurant in the El Born neighborhood. We ordered some sandwiches and what seemed like hours later, three plates arrived at the table with sandwiches that looked, well, miserable. Alison’s hunger pangs were banging away and, when her plate finally arrived, and it looked even worse. It looked like what a child would put together in their Mattel plastic kitchen. Two pieces of toast, a slice of ham, a slice of cheese and a shard of eggshell… Tremendously disappointed but driven by hunger, Alison ate what she could.
As the bad taste in our mouths lingered, we busted out as quick as we could and ducked into Sagardi, a Tapas place not far away. There we tried to cleanse the bad memory through dignified gluttony. What lunch? There was nothing of that sort! Hey look, some sardines with olive oil and tomatoes on a toasted slice of baguette!
Where: Carrer de la Unió, 17, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Notable: We picked the Bar over the restaurant, where you get great food without the formal atmosphere. Seated at the bar, we were treated to a no holds barred view of the kitchen. The cooking, the preparation, the smells… what a great experience for our 1st dinner in Barcelona. The friendly waiter explained the menu and after putting in the orders, we just let Bar Cañete take us for a joyride. Remember to make reservations!
Price: Regular european dinner prices
Spiral shaved eggplant deep fried, piled high and drizzled with honey. Need I say more?
This is the first time I’ve had Santa Pau beans. It turns out that it is a local legume grown in volcanic soil and a big hit in the Spanish kitchen. Its light and sweet flavor combined very well with the tiny squids in this dish. Comfort food to my palate, I chowed down on this dish heartily with some bread, soaking in the juices as I try to fight off the other members of the dinner party.
Ok, with a dish title like that, who can resist? Perfectly cooked beef with all its glory and trimmings set on top of a crispy flat bread. I mean… there is really no fighting chance for us all. Each bite contrasted the soft tenderloin and slice of foie gras against the crispy bread, all bound together with a light brown truffle sauce, mixed in with the tenderloin juices.
This dish is definitely a contender in a title match fight with the steak sandwich in Lisbon. I’ll pay to see that fight, hell, I will even judge!
Where: Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes, 25, 08004 Barcelona, Spain
Notable: Small and cozy with standing room only, this Tapas place is just about as amazing as they come! Try as many as you can. As a seafood fan, they were all simply amazing. “You are with me now.” the girl behind the bar had a firm voice and motions to us. We understood we will be well taken care of. And boy we were, she was great! Many plates of tapas later and a couple glasses of Prosecco, we pushed our way out, smiling.
Price: Affordable fare (we paid 60 Euros for 4!)
Where: Plaça de les Olles, 8, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Notable: Wow. They are so many notables about this place that I will highlight only the things you need to know. First, be aware that there are no reservations available for this restaurant, and there are only 20 seats at the bar. Lunch time starts at 1pm and we were in line for probably 30min before it even opened. Lunch ends at 1.45pm, so make sure you time it right. But it was well worth it! Mr. Pep Manubens himself (illustrated so playfully on their website) personally orchestrated our lunch that day. If you have already tasted the traditional dishes like squid and beans, omelette, deep fried small fish, you should ask for alternatives, otherwise you will most likely be served the traditional dishes, which were exceptional.
Multiple chefs running around behind the counter, frying, boiling, chopping, plating… they were so close, you can almost reach out and grab the food off the skillet.
Price: Pricey for lunch, (more like a nice dinner) but worth every cent.
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