Here is a brief report of our first dinner in Barcelona. We have a rental apartment for one week, near Placa Universitat, and I hope to continue this thread as the week progresses.
We booked ahead at this modern tapas bar/restaurant on a corner in the Eixample for an early dinner on Sunday, the day of arrival (from Valencia). We arrived slightly after 8pm to find four (Asian) diners already seated at the bar. Contrary to what I had feared, however, the place eventually filled up with a mostly local crowd, but for the first half hour or so, we had the place almost to ourselves. I do not mind this, as servers have more time to explain dishes and to chat.
Service was friendly; serving staff speak at least some English and there is even an English menu. We took two seats at the bar with a view of the partially open kitchen. (Cooks here are Filipino, BTW). There are also about a dozen or so tables.
I am afraid that we had a rather unbalanced meal, heavy on the starch, as we ordered dishes that appealed without attempting any kind of sensible progression of courses. Prices are for half raciones, and portions are fairly small.
Pan con Tomate. Excellent version here of this Catalan favorite--toasted bread rubbed with tomato and garlic and topped with olive oil. Almost every diner had a plate of this.
Viruta de Alcachofas (4.70) Fried artichokes. Cut thick enough to allow some meatiness, these were sublime and highly recommended.
Navajas a la Plancha (9.40) After experiencing the celestial heights of the navajas at Madrid's Taberna Laredo, I am afraid that I will search in vain for anything that measures up. These razor clams were fresh and simply prepared, but without that touch of browning from the grill, they fell short of the grail for me.
Patatas Bravas (5.80). Excellent with sauce that packed a spicy kick. Could have used a bit more salt, and a bit more browning. (Some of the other dishes were also a tad undersalted, in my opinion)
Bomba (2.35). Giant mound of ?? (mashed potato?) with the same spicy brava sauce.
Croquetas de Pescado y Marisco (1.45 piece) Well fried and tasty
Chipirones a la Malaguena (11.50). Delicate in size and delicately fried, these baby squid were delicious and stack up very well against the countless versions of this dish I have had in the past month or two.
Montadito de Madagascar (about 1.50). Dessert. This was toasted bread topped with melted chocolate, olive oil, and fleur de sel. Decadent.
With our parade of dishes, we drank an excellent cava, from chardonnay and pinot noir whose name (beings with "R") I do not recall; it is one of two cavas available by the glass and appears at the top of the wine list.
Next time I would sample some of the meat dishes, and the foie, which looked excellent. Also tempting were the carpaccio of tuna that was enjoyed by my neighbor!
The bill totalled 46 euro for two persons. Friendly place. Excellent food. I would not trek across the city to go there, though.
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