Monday, January 16, 2006

Barcelona Ramblings

Just back after 4 days in Barcelona. The prominence of oriental staff working in the various restaurants we tried was noteworthy, given the large numbers of spanish working in Irish hotels and restaurants in recent years.

Eating out:
The best value is the lunchtime "menu del dia" where you can get 2-3 courses plus a beer or glass of wine for €10-12. It's widely available, even in many up-market restaurants. A queue of locals is a sure sign of value, and often a clue as to what might be worth checking out for an evening meal.

Our preference is for lively, bistro-type restaurants, rather than hushed temples of haut cuisine. If you prefer the latter then ignore the following:

On C. d’Enrique Grandos, Flamant and La Polpa were enjoyable as was La Rita on C. d’Arago. La Rita was unbelievably cheap but I recommend you avoid any dessert “smothered in chocolate”. Citrus, above TapaTapa (avoid), on P. de Gracia was also fine.

From a visit last year, the hard to find Café de l’Academia, off C. de Jaume 1, is worth finding and Senyor Parellada on C. de la Argentaria was also enjoyable. La Crema Canela off Placa Reial was fine, though lunch at the adjacent Les Quinze Nits was disappointing (perhaps we were unlucky in our menu selections) even though it is always busy.

However, if you’re one of the “Beautiful People” or simply a “Grade A Poser“, then the restaurant for you is Moo at Hotel Omm, a couple of blocks further up P. de Gracia. If only I was 20 years younger and 20 kilos lighter….

Schilling bar on C. de Ferran is a good spot to people-watch while relaxing over a beer/wine/g&t, though it can get busy. Across the road from Schilling is a small off-license where you can buy Powers Gold Label whiskey for €12.50 - about half what you'd pay for it here. Jameson is even cheaper at €11.50 - but it's quite unusual to find Powers anywhere abroad.

The cheapest beer in Barcelona comes with one of the best views. This location was discovered last year by a Mr Kelly who'd lick drink off a scabby dogs leg.
A 40cl glass of beer will cost you only €1.80 (Coke is 10c dearer!) in the top-floor self-service cafeteria of El Cort Ingles on Placa de Catalunya. The food's is typical Arnott's, and most restaurants offering a menu del dia would be better value, but the view is great. A good place to read your newspaper and have a beer on a cold or wet day - or kill an hour while your other half is shopping downstairs.

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