Cuines Santa Caterina, Mostly Spanish with some Asian, Barri Gòtic

Cuines Santa CaterinaMy friend Giulia and her family were in town a couple of weeks back.  I whizzed them through some of the best streets in Barcelona, with a snack in mind for practically every street.  Regardless, when it was lunch time, we were all famished.  I quickly decided on our spot – a quick tour beneath the stunning undulating roof of Santa Caterina Market and then we would grab a table at Cuines Santa Caterina (From the Tragaluz group).IMG_5980 Read more of this post

Tarannà, Cafe & Bar, Sant Antoni

TarannaTarannà is the kind of place you find a lot in London, New York and even Berlin but in Barcelona, where traditional cafes are still endearing, it is more of a rare find.  They do seasonal food (yawn I know, how many times have you heard that but places here sometimes serve Asparagus in December) and although the context (and the principal language)  of the menu is very much Catalan, the approach is light and refreshing.  Taranna The pricing is easy on the wallet too – which (again) in Barcelona is a rare thing. I have a cor de bou tomato salad.  A simple affair, the tomato “heart of the bull” I think it is.  An onions, splayed open like a flower, some olives, nice canned tuna.  No dressing.  Simple stuff.  For around €8.  Quite girly actually.  In fact as I look around, I see that that particular afternoon is running at around a 95% female customer occupancy (good tip for you boys that are trying to find Ms. Right – do men actually do that or is it primarily a girl thing?  My now husband had an entire list – a la Don Tillman but without the excuse of Asperger’s). Read more of this post

La Guingueta, Chirringuito, Barceloneta

La GuinguetaBon Appetit did a small Barcelona feature in it’s May edition. I was delighted to see that I have hit most of their recommended spots (so this blog’s move to Spain is starting to get somewhere).  And then I read about how Carles Abellan – whose Tapas 24 I love (and posh restaurant Comerç 24 I visited for my last birthday), has a Chirringuito. And, and… He serves ice cream from Rocambolesc. Which is great because until now, I had been planning to travel to Girona for the day to try it.
The view - and the W is there tooYou can see the W hotel from La Guingueta.  The waiters are dressed in identical nautical themed shirts, enough of them have tattoos and patches of hair shaved off in weird places for it to seem a conscious part of the look.  I recognise 2 waiters from Tapas 24, one seems to have been promoted to manager, a charismatic girl with strange zig zagging hair cuts, who once whisked me to the front of the line at 24 when she realised that I was dining alone.The GuacamoleThe menu is made up of things between bread, slightly unusual (for Barcelona) things like chicken burgers, fresh pressed juices (€6) and guacamole (€12) or nachos.  The pricing is – well I find myself thinking, I can see the W but does that mean I have to pay W prices? Read more of this post

La Cuina d’en Garriga, Delicatessant & Restaurant, Dreta de L’Eixample

La Cuina d'en GarrigaI visited La Garriga twice before I finally decided to give it a try with my new friend Anjalina of the Barcelona food blog – Rainbow Spoon.  Mostly because this neighborhood has a tendency for well designed shops with mediocre but expensive food.  Garriga has some promising visual cues; they use and sell bread from Baluard, stock tea from Mariage Frères and sauces from Wilkins & Sons.  Meanwhile their chiller cabinet is groaning and perspiring with all manner of delicious things.La Cuina d'en GarrigaMy original plan had been to order some buffalo mozzarella with organic rocket but then I thought it better to test the kitchen and ordered the quinoa salad (€11.30) and the arroz ala cubana (€11.50). Anjalina ordered the lentils with foie gras (€11.40).  Portion sizes were on the small side and prices on the other end of the end of the scale but it was all delicious, unexpectedly so.  The lentils were boiled so that they were tender and not a moment to long.  The quinoa was light and fluffy with the surprising addition of candied lemon peel.  All dressed well.  The lone fried egg atop my rice a la cubana could have used a friend, my stomach certainly thought so.   But overall good and a nice change from all the Tapas and such. Read more of this post

Espai Kru, modern fish with emphasis on raw fish & seafood, Poble Sec

Espai KruWe’ve had three consecutive weekends of friends visiting. After 7 months in Barcelona, we know where to take visitors.  Still, Easter weekend proved a challenge, the city was practically boiling over with visitors and yet many places were closed.  Including the crown jewels in the Albert Adria crown (Tickets, Pakta, 41º Experience & Bodega 1900). Which left the places without the pictures on the Bcn 5.0 website – the ones missing personalised social media buttons; Rias de Galicias (fish restaurant), Espai Kru (modern fish with emphasis on raw fish & seafood), Casa de Tapes.  Long winded introduction – true – but I am fascinated by the marketing.  (Why do the latter 3 fall in a different category with less promotion than the former?)Bread with tomato, croquetas, superlative grapefruit juice, Espai KruOn my last visit to Pakta, the waitress had enthusiastically recommended Espai Kru to me: a la carte instead of Prix Fix, laid back with delicious food. Espai Kru it was, a table for two, for lunch on Saturday. And then we got there.  We climbed the stairs up to the first floor where we were confronted with a big, glossy poster advertising a Range Rover. Martini branding in Bodega 1900 – it works – but Range Rover? And then there was the music. 3 songs in we started wondering if the staff had left their own music playing by accident?  I asked our waitress, Anna (the best waitress I’ve had in 10 years) if what we were listening to was the restaurant playlist (tunes like Bonny M’s Sunny, September from Earth Wind and Fire, Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody) – perplexed she answered yes.Deep Fried Turbot / Rodaballo Frito After a glass of the fantastic Blue Fin Mestres Cava it all started to make sense, the poster, the music, the friendly waitress. What is often missing in these big name restaurants is silliness, humor, getting some things wrong – like having a big Range Rover poster to greet guests. Read more of this post

Bar Lobo, Fusion, El Raval

Bar LoboThe Tragaluz Group is a name that you need to know in Barcelona.  I will readily admit that restaurant groups in Europe can conjure negative associations: laminated menus in 7 languages, busking waiters impeding your journey, iceberg lettuce and shredded carrot in the salad – it’s not pretty or tasty. While the Tragaluz restaurants do have menus in 5 languages – they also have great locations, appealing design and food that is usually good if on the pricy side.  Unlike the Albert Adria restaurants, they are spread all over the city so you are usually not far from one.

Our lunch at Bar LoboWith Marguerite in town for the weekend, we duck off the tacky Ramblas as fast as we can, onto C/ Pintor Fortuny stopping for a brief minute in Chök to appease my daughter with a chocolate donut before continuing.  Bar Lobo does market fresh tapas and some main dishes.  We select 5 tapas.  Some for flavour: like the fried eggplant (€6.50), the tuna tataki with guacamole (€8.65) and the artichokes with jamon (€8.00).  Others for bulk and to temper the bill to a more acceptable level- patatas bravas (€4.50) and padron peppers (€5.60).  Two coca colas brings the bill to €20 a head which is quite an accomplishment for Barcelona (it’s so much more expensive here than in Berlin). Read more of this post

Somewhere, Cafe, Sant Cugat del Vallès

Somewhere CafeMy Jordanian father once told me a story; we were visiting Vienna when I was a toddler and we were refused service at a restaurant because of me. Because I was a child. “But there is a dog in here!” he protested (Remember I said he is Jordanian, so letting in a dog and not a child is kind of carazy!). “Yes, dogs are allowed. Children are not.” Discussion closed.  Although children at mealtimes can still be a contentious issue in Northern Europe, in Southern Europe and Spain in particular it’s no big deal.  Where are your children supposed to be if not with you?  And no, you are not expected to wait until they are 18 before going out to eat.  Which means there isn’t really this niche of “children friendly” restaurants.  All people, of all sizes and ages are welcome in all restaurants.

SomewhereEvery now and then though, there is a place that makes special accommodations for little people.  Like Somewhere Cafe in San Cugat.  They’ve gone ahead and made a small corridor full of windows and stacked with colouring print outs and tubs of crayons.  From the moment I walked in with all my three, that’s where they remained.  Poking their faces through the windows when they needed to be fed before getting back to the business of colouring in. Read more of this post

Les Tres a la Cuina, Seasonal Fresh Food, Gracia

Les Tres La Cuina, GraciaThis is what I think: people of Barcelona eat out an incredible amount.  With 3 hours for siesta being observed by all but the biggest most visible shops, they have the time.  They do it with other people, big – small, young – old; I am always marvelling at the human mikado that can be lunch.  They are a gregarious bunch and I see them all at different points of their lives, living it, that moment – being present.  It’s pretty fantastic.

There are a lot of places to eat at, a jumble like my children’s overturned toy boxes.  Choice – sure but where to begin?  And how to avoid the trap that is specific to Barcelona – a well designed shop with a fumbling kitchen or else missing the grungy hole with spectacular food? Oh and what if I don’t want jamón?Les Tres a la CuinaIt’s a feat to untangle this scene but every now and then I hit gold and think: “Yes, I’m getting somewhere!”  Les Tres a la Cuina is one such place.  In one of my favourite neighborhoods, Gracia, it’s a small shop.  Some bar stools around a high communal table at the entrance and bench seating closer to the kitchen. Read more of this post

Pakta, Nikkei Cuisine, Poble Sec

PaktaMy two favourite Japanese restaurants in London are Dinings and Yashin (in that order).  Both are generous with the citrus and easy on the soy.   I know that the executive chef at Dinings (Masaki Sugisaki ) worked at Nobu and that Nobu Matsuhisa was heavily influenced by Nikkei cuisine (a symbiosis of Japanese and Peruvian food).  So it is with very high expectations that I walk into Pakta on a sunny Saturday afternoon.    That and it’s taken me over a month (as usual) to get a table at this Adria brothers spot (no it’s not your imagination, they do seem to own every restaurant worth going to in Barcelona).  
The starterThere are two prix fix menus to choose from: the Fujiyama (€90 VAT included) and the Machu Picchu (€120 VAT included).  We opt for the latter and begin with the Honzen Ryori.  Which is an elaborately arranged tray of 5 small dishes the like of ‘Avocado tofu with sea urchin, yuzu and wasabi’ and ‘sweet corn cream with caviar’.  There are different spoons for different dishes and an order in which the 5 dishes should be eaten.  There are so many instructions to follow that our server uses a baton to point to the dishes as she explains what’s what, what’s first and with what – oh and don’t eat the tuft of leaves which is just a tuft of leaves. Read more of this post

Ramen-Ya Hiro, Ramen, La Dreta de L’Eixample

IMG_5399There I am, in Berlin, going on and on about how I love little portions of food (tapas, mezze) and I finally get to a place where that’s what it’s all about and I find myself wanting a big bowl of something.  Ramen will do quite nicely thank you, especially if it’s going to stand up to Cocolo in Berlin & Koya in LondonRamen-Ya Hiro As with most places I favor, Ramen-Ya Hiro is tiny and takes no reservations; which inevitably leads to lining up for a table. Which (also like most places I favor) is small, and cramped, with help yourself cutlery or in this case chopsticks.  The eclectic music blares – it must be what the kitchen likes to listen.  It’s an open kitchen with two bandannad chefs welding ladles like they are flag semaphores, dishing out steaming bowls of broth. Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,042 other followers