Restaurants & Bars

Local Fare Around Barcelona

mielimato | Apr 22, 200808:49 AM

Restaurante El Taller
Passatge de Sant Pere, 2
Caldes d'Estrac
Tel. 93 791 26 01

A limited menu has always been for me a good sign that a restaurant knows enough to stick to what it can do best and not go too far off the deep end. This place does the following: saucy, stewy starters (stuffed eggplant, slow-cooked seasonal vegetables, snails in sauce) and grilled meats and vegetables. That means good solid traditional fare favored by locals from the area.

We had the eggplants which is very hardy, probably too hardy for a first and should be eaten as a main. Plus, the plate can only really be described as a plate of white and probably should have tasted awful. I am probably obsessing too much about how bad this dish could have been because it was so surprisingly good. Eggplant stuffed with ground meat (probably pork) in a bechamel-like sauce made with emmenthal cheese. Yum.

We also had for starters fresh peas a la catalana (stewed with onions and blood sausage). I am still reconciling myself with the Mediterranean penchant for slow simmered over done vegetables so I will reserve judgment on this dish for now.

Then we had grilled pig cheeks—crispy exterior, moist succulent interior…excellent. And grilled artichokes that we marinated in vinegar and oil…really hard to beat!

We also show tables of older ladies sucking on snails and licking their fingers…when old catalan grandmothers are licking their finger, you know you are in the right spot!

This was all topped off by catalonia’s best kept desert secret—coca de llevanares. Coca is a thin flat “pastry” that is baked in a fire wood oven so it is more like sweet thin crust pizza than the French influenced buttery pastries. Coca de llevanares adds on thin layers of custard and pine nuts. For those who don’t like supper sweet desserts, this one’s for you.

All dishes are around 10-15 euros, starters less. This place can get really packed during the summer as all the wealthy Barcelona-ites keep their summer houses in the area. But this town is worth visiting in its own right. Just 20-30 minutes outside BCN by the sea, it is charming and largely unspoiled.

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