I’m living in the countryside outside Barcelona for a few weeks while I work on a project and had the pleasure of a weekend in the city to stroll around and be delighted. Delighted we were!
Quimet y Quimet reminded me that because something is “touristy” doesn’t meant that I should automatically discount it as bad. 80% of the visitors during my two visits were non-Spanish speakers dutifully eating the salmon, truffle honey and yogurt montadito that was recommended in some guide. But that montadito was in fact very good, as was everything else we tried here–my favorite was the artichoke, goat cheese and caviar montadito, so creamy and luscious that my face advertised my pleasure enough that neighbors to both sides then ordered the same. Other pleasures: leek and caviar tapas, everything with boquerones and anchovies, the blue cheese and red pepper montadito. We stayed in this neighborhood (Poble Sec) and grazed on tapas on Carrer de Blai but nothing matched the quality of Quimet y Quimet. It was also the only place everything was freshly prepared from a deli-counter-like set-up of ingredients being spooned onto plates or toasts to order.
Forn Boix was a better than average bakery; I liked the sweet apple empanada and adored this short, eggy pastry (kind of like a cannele but not caramelized?) that didn’t have a label.
Lliberia Calders, behind Bar Calders, is a lovely independent bookshop with a small bar and tables in the back of its main room–a delightful place for readers or writers to stop for a drink while strolling in the Sant Antoni neighborhood.
Petit Comite de Nandu Jubany was the first of our two booked restaurants. We arrived after a day of exploring Barcelona in normal-people clothes, and the other guest waiting outside was wearing a ball gown, so: dress up for this one. Service was a bit weird. I wanted a glass of wine, for which there is no list (bottles only on the printed menu) and had trouble getting the waiter to acknowledge the question (not a language problem–he just didn’t know what the wines by the glass were and didn’t seem interested in investigating). Grilled artichokes with romesco were good and straightforward. Egg at low temperature with sobrassada crumbles was silky and elegant, set alongside a puree of potato. I had the roasted suckling pig with caramelized fruit; he had the veal filet. Both were impressive, portion-wise, and regretfully so–the dessert cart looked incredible, but we weren’t up to it. We saw the half portion notice at the bottom of the menu too late–you can order a half portion of most dishes at 60% of the price–and if I were to return, I’d probably take advantage of that, eat smaller portions, and save room for dessert!
I have no idea what the name of the second restaurant is, which is the only disappointing thing about the experience. We ate on the first floor restaurant of the Ohla Hotel, in the space that used to be called Sauc restaurant. My husband booked the table a couple months back and apparently got a response that the name had changed, but a restaurant was still operating there, would we like to eat there? So we ate at the Ohla hotel first floor restaurant (not even mentioned on the hotel website!) and had a really lovely experience. Charming service, great food. The amuse of tomato macaron, pig ear, and a bursting truffle-flavored truffle was a lovely start. Good bread and olive oil. The main courses of lamb and pork were punishingly large, but we had learned our lesson and saved room for dessert. The banana/walnut option, with pureed and dehydrated banana set against tiny walnut cakes, was good; the hazelnut souffle must have been because I wasn’t allowed a bite.
Now vegetable soup for a month!