The last time I went to La Boheme (C/ Blai 65, 93 329 9829) was about eight years ago and we christened the woman who ran it Mama Lola. She had a wide, comforting smile and the kind of ample bosom to which you would entrust your first-born. Her art was feeding people and I loved to watch her bustling about the busy dining room laying down vast platters of jamón and charcuterie, and jugs of wine while you waited for more substantial creations to emerge from her one-woman kitchen. Mama Lola was a force to be reckoned with.
When I went back recently en route to a concert at the Grec (it’s a handy stop right near the bottom of the hill – a hop, skip and a jump from the cultural highlights of Montjuïc) I realised it had changed hands. It was the empanadas that gave it away. Lola’s gig was a strictly Spanish affair, these bulging pastries smacked of Buenos Aires.
Still change isn’t always such a bad thing and I’ve always had a soft spot for an empanada. These cost between €2.20 and €3 and come juicy and hot, stuffed with a range of wide range of fillings: meat; celery, blue cheese, walnut and mozzarella; onion, bacon and mozzarella; sweetcorn, pumpkin, mozzarella and honey; escalivada and goats cheese. We took a stash to go and ate them very happily at the amphitheatre. My picnic dilemmas are solved.
If you want to stay, I can only speak of what I read on the menu. Hearty salads include “Sultana”, a sensible mix of rocket, bacon, mushrooms and parmesan for €9.10, and then it all goes a bit off-kilter: “Caribeña” boasts melon, apple, pear, avocado, lettuce, orange and sweet pepper; or there’s “Boheme”, an apparently monstrous heap of endive, crab stick, boiled egg, cherry tomatoes, leeks, yogurt and chives for €11.50. There are also true Argentinian meat cuts like mollejas (sweetbreads) for €14, asado de tira €13.50, vacio al horno €13.50, and entraña €14.50.
And the staff are very sweet. When the bottle ran out near the top of the glass, they apologised and comped it, and then asked if we might know of a band who could play live music Friday and Saturday nights? Any takers?