We all need a neighbourhood joint. Somewhere to go when you haven’t really got the energy to conjure up something new and exciting, or plunder the mental notes you made from recommendations given by friends. You just want it to be quick, easy and satisfying. A place where nobody minds if you just order a plate of egg and chips; the staff treat you with the cordiality of a familiar face, if not a name; and you can as much revel in being alone as in the convivial glow of family and friends.
Just such a place is the Bodega Sepúlveda (C/Sepulveda 173, 93 323 5944), which boasts the atmosphere of a proper Catalan tasca; wood panels and old tables jammed into every available space, amber lighting (no fluorescent strips here) against wood beams and barrels, and home cooking at its very finest. The bar literally groans beneath the weight of so many casera dishes in blackened terracotta casseroles.
There are classics like creamy white beans with clams topped off with a drizzle of parsley oil; sardines escabeche cured in house; broad beans with morcilla; hams, sausages, pates and cheeses from all over the region. And some innovative surprises: Waldorf salad, tuna marinated in a home-made spiced tomato sauce, served in slivers on thick slabs of pan con tomate, a 'cap i pota vinagreta', French fries with foie, revueltos (scrambled eggs) with trompetas de la muerte and chipirones, and an entrecote “café de Paris”.
That all these sumptuous offerings range from €1 for a croquette to €19.50 for a steak filet with foie make it all the more a home-from-home. You can afford to actually go. And yet every year these kinds of places are slowly but surely disappearing in the wake of lounge bars and bistros the like of which are seen in every city on earth. Bodega Sepúlveda is Barcelona through and through and far from being endangered (it’s packed to the rafters night after night), but one can’t help feeling it should be given protected species status.
Please note that Bodega Sepúlveda is shut for holiday and renovations until Sept 11th 2009.