After enjoying perhaps the best ever duck confit and lentils with dijon mustard and spinach, I was looking for any excuse to head back to Cafè Godot in Gràcia to sample this modern Mediterranean restaurant’s daytime offerings. Located just off the busy Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia, the restaurant couldn’t be more central. Day and night, the dining room is always bustling and serves as an equally ideal place for Saturday brunches, weekday lunches and romantic evening meals (first date potential, I’d say). I have mixed feelings about the Broadway-esque marquee posters tacked to the walls and announcing popular menu items, and it did seem a bit dark inside for 3pm on a sunny Saturday afternoon; but one thing is for certain—the food is absolutely top notch.
There are several diverse menus at Cafè Godot, and the food here traverses many borders, with clear Spanish, Catalan, Italian, French, Asian, Middle Eastern and North African influences running throughout. However, this isn’t to say that the menu felt disjointed in any way. On the contrary, the style and presentation of the dishes, in accordance with the whole ‘New Mediterranean’ vibe, are well thought out and executed, and they successfully meet the standards of mass appeal.
We arrived for brunch, but I wasn’t in the mood for eggs. Being a veteran short-order breakfast cook myself, I rarely order eggs at restaurants. Instead, I was unexpectedly drawn to a favourite from my American upbringing: the Chicken Club Sandwich. The chatty women to the right of us were happily downing a tray of briny French oysters with ginger vinaigrette, while the couple to the left were lingering over a salad of cured duck breast with haricot verts and confit tomatoes. Meanwhile, I really wanted only one thing: tender grilled chicken slathered with mayonnaise, topped with bacon, avocado and cheese, and stacked high between crispy sourdough bread. The sandwiches come with your choice of chips or the house ‘dijon’ salad, and, like a good boy, I ordered my club with a side of greens. However, I must have been giving off some seriously strong wishful thinking, because the waiter soon returned to the table with my sandwich and a heap of golden, fried potatoes. I had definitely asked for the salad, but in the end I was given exactly what my nostalgic heart (and stomach) truly desired. No harm, no foul.
Being a person who often fears that restaurant portions may not be substantial enough to curb my hearty appetite—and being a writer, I like to have as much material to work with as possible—I double ordered. My club sandwich, therefore, came paired with a hefty plate of steak tartare, and this one was safely on the classic side, with a mild kick of mustard, plump caper berries and crispy Sardinian flatbread for spreading. I thoroughly enjoyed Cafè Godot’s version, though I would have welcomed the option to ramp the flavour up a notch to meet my preferred level of seasoning and spice.
While I alternated between jaw-stretching bites of my ample club sandwich and spoonfuls of supple raw beef fillet, across the table my dining companion contemplated the impeccable texture of her broccoli quiche. So simple, yet so satisfying, a well-made quiche is a thing of beauty. Nestled in a butter-rich, flaky pastry shell, the velvety consistency of the eggs and cream with Gruyère cheese was divine—a technically-perfect custard that would make any chef proud. Served with a little mound of salad, Cafè Godot’s quiche is a great not-too-filling-but-deliciously-satisfying kind of meal.
There are many classic and creative cocktails on offer and they make for tasty bookends to your meal, either as palate-opening aperitivos, or as leisurely digestivos (which is more recommended than finishing with a coffee, which was bitter and stale, begging for a packet or two of sugar before being downed with a grimace). It’s common in Barcelona that even superb restaurants seem to forget that coffee actually matters and many serve up some pretty rancid brew, so I won’t hold it against them, though I hope it improves.
Cafè Godot is the kind of place that leaves you feeling like you’ve found a friend. With plenty of variety and variation, from their brunch and lunch menus to their bar snacks, cocktails and evening à la carte dishes, I was left wanting to come back at every time of day and taste my way through the kitchen’s repertoire. There are many restaurants in this busy neighbourhood, but I would happily choose to wait for a table at Cafè Godot over its local rivals. There seems to be a little something for everyone on this well-planned menu, so if you’ve been looking for a special spot for your next cena de amigos, this may be the one.