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Barcelona Good Value Eating


tjdnewyork
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Inspired by Asola's mention of "grandmother food", this seems like as good a thread as any to mention the restaurant where, during my last trip to Spain, I had my best meal(s) by far: La Llar de l'all i oli, in Badalona.

In its way, this place is a monument to good ingredients. The cooking is simple and, from what little I know about Catalan cooking, utterly traditional. The obvious care that goes into the preparation results in food that is much greater than the sum of its parts. Standard on every table are a slice or two of toasted bread, some ripe tomatoes (probably from a nearby--or on site--garden) and a cruet of olive oil to make one of the most inspired snacks on earth, pa amb tomàquet. This is accompanied by a little pot of all i oli (palpably homemade, as is everything here, and stupendous). I began my first meal with a sopa caselona, which turned out to be a rich chicken broth with fideus (noodles). I don't know how they did it, but it was the most delicious soup of that sort I think I've ever had. This was followed by a paletilla de Huesca, which was a whole leg of baby lamb that had been coated with chopped fresh herbs and finely diced vegetables and baked in the oven. It's difficult not to keep harping on the high quality and freshness of the ingredients--the accompanying potatoes HAD to be from someone's garden there...simply done, and unbelievably delicious. I couldn't resist trying crema catalana in such a place and it was, predictably, the best I have ever tried.

I went back the very next night and had another equally wonderful meal, this time beginning with a simple grilled chorizo, but naturally of the highest quality, accompanied by more of those marvelous potatoes. Somehow, this truly transcended the sum of its parts, don't ask me how. This was followed by galtes a la brasa, or grilled pork cheeks. The only adjective for this is "wonderful"...I'm at a loss to describe them--they just need to be experienced. The house wine is, fortunately, just fine (and often the only sensible option for the perpetually solo diner like myself).

Badalona is an easy 15-minute train ride (on the number 1 cercanía line) from the center of Barcelona. As you exit the front of the Badalona train station, turn left and go 4 or 5 blocks until you reach carrer Conquesta, and turn right. The restaurant is about 3 blocks up, on the left (No. 87) Closed Sunday nights and Mondays, it's a good idea to call ahead and reserve, especially on the weekends: 93 383 53 07.

My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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Well Eric, you never lead me astray in Lisbon, so I'm going to have to add this place to my list for our August visit to Bcn. It sounds like a great find.

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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  • 3 weeks later...
Someone else just recommended La Paradeta.  I'll have to try it this week.

Since no-one (according to a search) has commented on La Paradeta, I thought I'd throw in my experiences there. It's in a bit of a random location behind the (disused) market of Santa Maria del Mar in the Born.

I've been twice for dinner and enjoyed each time, although both times I went there were companions who didn't like shellfish. It's a bad place for that- this is definitely shellfish central. It's unique in my experience in being set up like a fish-market in front, and then a canteen out back. At the beginning of the night (8pm opening for dinner), it's mostly elderly ladies in there and not too hectic, but by 10 people cram in, and there's quite a queue at the front.

The drill is this. Wait in line until it's your turn to be served. It helps to ask ¿Quien es el ultimo? when you arrive, so you know who to push in after. That gives you some time to decide what you want to eat. There's no english spoken, so pointing and nodding is mandatory if your castellano or catala aren't up to speed.

Almost everything you can have is right in front of you, so it's pretty simple. You tell them how many people you have, then how much of each thing you want, and choose how it is cooked- grilled, fried, steamed or marinara are the most common, and for many things you don't get a choice anyway- consult the notice on the wall for the options. They weigh things, key them in the computer and then send them to the kitchen. The only things I recall that aren't on ice at the counter are a salad- pretty standard spanish garden salad- and fish soup.

Then you move to the side counter to order your drinks (amazingly cheap wines- bottles around 6-12 EUR), purchase your bread and sauces (5 at last count- mayonnaise, allioli, romesco and a couple I forget) at 0.5 EUR a tub, and collect your plates, cutlery and glasses. You pay at this stage and find a seat (I think they manage it so that you only get to this point when there's hope of getting a table).

Then you wait for your number to be called, and go to the kitchen window with your receipt each time a dish is ready. Keep your receipt until you have all of your dishes.

A lot of the fun is in the experience and theatre of it all- it draws a good mix of people of all ages- mostly locals when I've been there. The food is really simple, cheap and great. There's nothing fancy here- go to commerc 24 around the corner for that- but what is there is fresh and well done. I wasn't a huge fan of the percebes- but that's probably a personal thing and an acquired taste. Monkfish is the only fish I've seen on the menu when I've been there, but where they shine is in the huge amounts of mussels, clams and tallarines. The bogavante are probably the most expensive things on the menu (17 EUR). the sepia a la plancha and pulpito frito are personal favorites. There are also a few pre-cooked things like the crab - stuffed with lettuce and meat separately (about 6 or 7 EUR) and prawns, that are served cold.

Desserts are in the freezer section. Haven't tried them, since there's helado not too far away.

All up, I really enjoy this place, and have started to go in preference to Cal Pep (not a fair comparison in price or complexity though) - especially with large groups. It's cheap and the more people you have the more you get to try.

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That sounds like a great place to try, and, as you say, the experience is half the fun. It reminds me of a Bcn version of eating at Katz's Deli in Nyc--watching the locals who know the ropes, and trying to keep up in another language and another culture without making too much of a fool of oneself.

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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  • 3 weeks later...

so many recommendations..I am lost. To narrow it down a bit, I would like to stay within walking distance from the Segrada Familia and our hotel (AB Viladomat Hotel).

-What is a good breakfast place? Especially for thick chocolate and churros.

-I know Tapas is not a Barcelona thing, but any recommendations for a good tapas bar are appreciated.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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L'Olivé. I've mentioned it already once or twice in the forum and although we stumbled upon it on night after a general strike because it was one of few places open in the neighborhood, it was listed in the Michelin Guide and we've since learned that Campsa lists it as recommended. It seemed to have a strong Catalan menu, with contemporary dishes. The 2004 Campsa suggests a meal there would run about 36€.

We didn't exactly stumble on it last night, but we found it was one of the few restaurants of any interest that was open last night. Monday is usually a bad night in Madrid, but last night was Pentecost Monday and we struck out left and right and left the decision for the last moment. A simple dinner there really hit the spot for two jet lagged diners. I noticed more than a few main courses below ten euros including my very nicely done lamb kidneys. Of course you can also have espardenyas for 36€, but after two days of no wholesale fish markets, that probably wouldn't have been our choice anyway. The biggest problem here was too extensive a menu to negotiate and too many choices. In addition to the very broad menu of mostly traditional Catalan dishes (I was sorely tempted by the rice dishes, but having had one last time and liking it, I wanted something different.) there was a large selection of seasonal dishes beginning with a number of salads of seasonal vegetables.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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so many recommendations..I am lost. To narrow it down a bit, I would like to stay within walking distance from the Segrada Familia and our hotel (AB Viladomat Hotel).

wow, that hotel is literally 3 blocks from my place.

-What is a good breakfast place? Especially for thick chocolate and churros.

mmm, close to your hotel, there's a chocolate and churros place almost accross from the Mercat del Ninot, I *think* on the corner of Mallorca and Villaroel. I've never had breakfast there though.

In my experience people usually have some coffee at home early, and then go "esmorçar", which is like a late 10:30/11ish breakfast, consisting of pretty much anything you can think of :biggrin:. A usual fare is a bocata (sandwich) of bread w/tomate (pa amb tomaquet) and a range of cured meats (chorizo, fuet, iberico, lomo, etc), tortilla and other few options. You could go into one of the two markets closer to your hotel, Ninot (Mallorca and Villarroel) or Sant Antoni (Urgell and Floridablanca) and try any of the several bars located inside.

-I know Tapas is not a Barcelona thing, but any recommendations for a good tapas bar are appreciated.

Again, close to your hotel you can try the traditional basque Taktika Berri or the more modern Cata 1.81, both on Carrer Valencia. Cata 181 is, as it name implies, on number 181, while Taktika Berri is on number 169. This would be Valencia between Muntaner and Aribau, if I'm not mistaken.

SD

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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so many recommendations..I am lost. To narrow it down a bit, I would like to stay within walking distance from the Segrada Familia and our hotel (AB Viladomat Hotel).

If you're looking for a higher end meal within this area as well, I just remembered that Alkimia (c Industria and Sicilia) is within walking distance from Sagrada Familia.

SD

edited 'cause I can't spell.

Edited by Silly Disciple (log)

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Many thanks, Taktika Berri already made my list after reading about it on this thread. I will make sure to visit it one evening...or two.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Many thanks, Taktika Berri already made my list after reading about it on this thread. I will make sure to visit it one evening...or two.

Elie

Elie, make sure you get there early, it tends to get crowded, particularly as the weekend gets closer.

SD

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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-What is a good breakfast place? Especially for thick chocolate and churros.

Elie

A very typical alternative to chocolate and churros is a "suís", which is coffee and whipped cream. There's a little narrow street in Ciutat Vella, c. Petritxol, where several places compete in serving the best suís in Barcelona -real good whipped cream is no joke-. They have been there forever, and I guess the chocolate must be good as well, but whenever I've gone there it's been because of a craving for their suís. As for being near, it's a short ride in bus 59 from your hotel to Las Ramblas, then a 2 minute walk.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Again, thanks for all recommendations on this thread. They were very helpful in pointing us to good food.

For Pintxos we stopped by Taktika Berri our first night in Barcelona and had the pleasure of meeting Bux who had a few drinks with us and shared some tapas. We got there early and sat at the bar and magaed to score the hot pintxos as they come out. The food was escellent esopecially the Boqurones (sp?), bacalao, and morcilla. I definitly ate more than I should and had a few cavas.

Another Barcelona recommendation is Cincsentits. We had a fine meal there. It's kind of funny though that the main thing that sticks with me is the wonderful amuse/shot composed of several layers including maple syrup and salt. I would love to be able to make something like it at home, it was excellent. The other top notch dish was a generous appetizer of foi gras, leeks and puff pastry.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Mrs. B and I had done a lot of walking that day and we also had a large lunch at Cinc Sentits when Elie suggested we meet at Taktika Berri. I had fully intended to have a glass of beer or a cava and maybe a tapa. I was good to my word when confronted with the array of cold tapas although they were a good cut above most Basque tapas bars in Barcelona. Resistance pretty well evaporated whenever the hot tapas appeared. Taktika Berri, by the way, is right around the corner from Cinc Sentits and not far from L'Olivé a good mostly traditional restaurant specializing in Catalan food. It's only a few blocks from a concentration of hotels and more touristed places on the Rambla de Catalunya and Passeig de Gracia and well worth a far greater detour, but far enough away, I hope, to keep it from being over run with tourists. On the whole we found gracious reception at bars and restaurants all over the city, but Taktika Berri appeared to go the extra step. The problem with large lunches is that we often don't get out later at night, so thanks to Elie I managed to hit one more place worth noting for next time.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 1 month later...

I'd like to add my two cents on a few places I've visited recently. While not being destination places in themselves, I think its good to have them at hand, as the kind of place you would visit if you were in the area and didn't have other plans. Some have been mentioned in the forum before, others I've found through friends' references.

Cata 1.81 - Valencia, 181.

This one has been commented on. Located in the same street as el Xampany and Taktika Berri, in the Left Eixample. Inventive tapas, fashionable setting. Nothing to write home about. We had the degustation menu + 2 bottles of cava for about 30 euros a head if I'm not mistaken.

El Vaso de Oro - Balboa 6.

In Barceloneta. Old bar, now frequented by tourists, has a decent selection of traditional tapas: Chocos, pimientos del piquillo, patatas bravas, foie gras on a toast, etc. Not the cheapest of places, but a good option if you find yourself hungry and walking back from the Barceloneta beach.

Vinissim - Carrer de Sant Domènec del Call , 17

In the old quarter, sort of behind Plaza Sant Jaume. Nice setting and ambience, farily cheap, has both some interesting tapas as well as a good selection of not expensive wines.

Lonja de Tapas - Pla de Palau, 7.

In the Born area. For what it should be mostly a tourist destination, this tapas bar a block away from Cal Pep was surprisingly good. We had a good selection of fairly creative tapas and a bottle of cava.

SD

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Good value occurs at all price points although we tend to restrict the term to "budget" restaurants. Cinc Sentits looms as one of, if not the, best value of our visit to Barcelona in the spring, although it's not in the budget class. It's probably a good time to remind people that new restaurants tend to increase their prices as they gather a clientele and perhaps positive reviews. Very often the top rated restaurants are still good values as what they offer can't be had elsewhere at any price, but it's also worth considering that they were probably better values before the ratings allowed them to raise the price.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Just a note on Vinissim. Sadly at the moment it has been forced to close due to, seemingly, complaints from a neighbour about noise.

Now, noise is a very serious issue in this city whose residents regularly live through decibel levels that could be classified as torture. Until recently I lived in the centre of the Barri Gotic very near to Vinissim so I can sympathise with anyone's wishing to do something about noise pollution.... however...

It seems that complaints were only received from one neighbour and that the owners of the bar had, since it opened, made various attempts at improving their soundproofing, but it seems they cannot both appease the neighbour and still function.

As I say, I do sympathise with anyone who has to live with noise pollution, however, I find it rather inequitable that a bar that shuts relatively early for Barcelona, with clientele who generally come for a few glasses of wine and tapas and generally leave in an orderly manner, should be closed on the say so of one person, whereas 'Irish pubs' with a clientele that basically comes to get p****d and then who roam drunkenly and noisily around the streets are allowed to proliferate like some hideous virus through the barri gotic.

I know this is getting very off topic, but I am interested in the views of local egulleteers on this - are they interested in supporting any possible 'protest'? (don't worry, i'm not suggesting an okupa-style street march) :shock:

Also I have to make clear that the owners of Vinissim told me about this so I do only have one side of the story.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am not sure if this restaurant falls into this catagory-Ot or Ott-not sure of the spelling. I have one dinner in Barcelona so I have a difficult decision to make. I like the idea of that Taktika Berri and then Cinq Sentits, but I heard good things about Ot? Any thoughts

Molto E

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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I say Cinc Sentits. Why? They're such lovely people. You may not think that's the best reason to choose a restaurant, but although it's hard to eat and drink as well elsewhere at such reasonable prices, it may well be possible. However I know when I go there, on top of being served great food and wine, I will be treated warmly and well (and if not it will be sorted out without fuss or rancour), and I will feel glad that my dining euros are going to the Artals, the Angli (!) and their staff. So, in the absence of any particular desire other than the wish to have a wonderful dining experience, Cinc Sentits is always my top recommendation in Barcelona.

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I have been sending people to Jordi's place since May when we were there. Some of them have starting sending people there. It is the food and the place that first gets you there it is Jordi and his sister that make you want to return over and over. We sat till about 130 AM after our meal and had one of the best nights of our 3 weeks in Spain. Not just the food but the whole expeirence. Not to mention the list of hidden gems of places to eat at from Jordi. Cinq Sentis should be on anyones list for BCN.

David West

A.K.A. The Mushroom Man

Founder of http://finepalatefoods.com/

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I have another recommendation to make, in the spirit of finding truly local, working-class, places. I don't even know its name, for we call it "Les nenes", "The Girls", on account of it being run by three women the younger of which is 50 years old. The address is c. Rogent, 6 (or 8 or 10).

I want to thank asola for his recommendation to have lunch at this restaurant, which it turns out is called Can Bertram and is located at Carrer Rogent, 4 (tel. 93-265-46-04). It is as adorable as his post describes. Very simple grandmother cooking which is exactly what I like to have when I travel.

I also had a great, albeit simple, lunch at Goliard (Carrer Progrés, 6), thanks again to asola's brilliant insider advice. For tourists, it's a great place to stop for lunch when visiting Gaudí's Casa Milà (La Pedrera) as it's only a ten or fifteen minute walk away.

I wrote about my lunch at both places (and a third, recommeded by Saveur's Colman Andrews) and even included a picture of the older two of the three "nenes" here. Part of the fun of Can Bertram is the antics of the three women who run it.

Brett Emerson

My food blog: In Praise of Sardines

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I'm glad you liked Les Nenes, Brett. Yet, re-reading my post and yours, I think there is a slightly false impression left. While extolling the ambience was my original point, and your visit confirmed what I wanted to convey, there is also a quality to the food which should not be understated. While all the simple dishes, like the ones you had, are good, they do cook more complicated dishes extremely well, paella being their top star. While I enjoy once in a while the paellas in the best known Barceloneta places, and even though they are somewhat tastier, with stronger flavors, in the end I prefer theirs, and I recommend to try it there to get to know what Spaniards' home paellas are. Just go there on a Thursday and say "Vengo de San Francisco para probar su paella" [i come from XX to try your paella] and they'll be as happy as can be.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Another Barcelona recommendation is Cincsentits. We had a fine meal there. It's kind of funny though that the main thing that sticks with me is the wonderful amuse/shot composed of several layers including maple syrup and salt.

Last night I had my first dining experience at Cinc Sentits. I could rave about anything in the menu, everything was just amazing (we had the big menu). But I agree, the amuse was so good it's almost a pity they serve it first of all because no matter how good everything else is, it's such a high standard to match... While we were waiting for the bill, the next table had their shots in waiting at a nearby service table and we were seriously tempted to steal them!!!

Edited by Mar Calpena (log)

Middlebrow Catalan gastronomy??????

http://baixagastronomia.blogspot.com/

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I had the opportunity to dine at Cinc Sentits recently and enjoyed the experience. The Artal family-Jordi/Chef, Amelia and Roser/Maitre and Manager really care about your experience and it is nice to dine in a family operation. They have received a lot of good press including Conde Nast "Hot Tables" and Elle magazine.

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Tapas

shot of warm maple syrup, cream, cava sabayon and rock salt

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foie gras torchon, violet marmalade and almond crocanti

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poached quail egg, parmigiano cream and candied lemon peel

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pan-roasted sardine-torro crisp,toasted pine-nut orzata, melon

gallery_30892_1764_38794.jpg

free range poached egg-cod brandade, piquillopepper sauce, parlsey oil

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wild mediterranean tuna-smoked bonito broth, shiitake mushrooms, micro shiso

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porcini crusted rack of lamb-caramelized leek cream, demi glace

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valdeon-toasted brioche, white truffle honey, pear

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tahitian vanilla bean panna cotta-strawberry and aceto sorbet, rosewater gelee, pink peppercorn dust

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toasted hazelnut parfait-chocolate cake, caramelized cocoa nibs, espresso parfait

gallery_30892_1764_1730944.jpg

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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