It’s been a week of tapas for me, finding myself first, accidentally, at Casa Pepe (Plaça Bonanova 4, 93 418 0087) where I loitered at the bar with a bunch of gregarious lawyers and architects knocking back rich, syrupy glasses of white Bierzo alongside platters of fuet, french fries and alioli, and pungent French cheeses. Half French-Italian-Spanish deli, half tapas bar you can almost feel the good times leaching out the walls.
Not so La Taverna del Clínic (C/Rosselló 155, 93 410 4221), which has great food but a charmless atmosphere. Fluorescent lighting casts down its beam over an ugly burgundy lacquered bar and cheap high chairs. Definitely not the kind of place you’d want to spend a huge amount of time, though it had its moments.
When we asked about the house wine, our waitress memorably remarked it was a Rioja called Penedès. Normally I’d be quite into this – like the time I asked what the wine was and was told it was a carafe – but when all the bottles cost more than €20 and the glasses are Riedel’s you assume a certain level of knowledge.
Still, despite the dodgy surrounds we had magnificent huevos estrellados – a perfectly fried egg over chips with a shard of crisped jamón jutting out the top; pulpo flecked with crunchy sea-salt topped with the orb of a boiled potato, stewed oxtail on a hillock of mashed potato. Oh, and some fantastic morel mushrooms in a soupy foie foam. And the bill with a glass of wine each came in at around €20 a head.
And so on Sunday I found myself at the opening of Carles Abellan’s new place Velódromo (C/Muntaner 213), which apparently is a Rolls Royce with a Ferrari engine as well as being a cycle track. So at the opening, which was more a street party where locals were invited for a “coctel” on Sunday afternoon – a coctel being half a pint of Moritz (who own the place) and a packet of crisps for 50 cents – there were also a number of classic cars for folks to pose against. The menu looks to be about the same as Tapaç24 but the setting is a gem: moss green walls against art deco wood panelling and a sweeping staircase recalling the last time it was open in 1933. There are also a couple of pool tables. As of July 6th it’ll be open daily from 6am-2am, so I’ll report back. I’ve gotta say, it’s very handy for those nights when you find yourself still awake when the sun comes up.