Photos by Pablo Pariente de Torre
Casa Leopoldo 1
In keeping with my current obsession for championing the old neighbourhood classics, I headed for a mid-week menú with a new friend to one of the oldest restaurants in town: Casa Leopoldo. The place has been going since 1929, a favourite of bullfighters back in the day when Catalunya allowed such a thing, as well as artists, writers and the other usual suspects of a city that has never been anything if not bohemian. Casa Leopoldo has changed little in that time and truly, they don’t make them like this any more, what with its brown tiles and painted beams and matriarchs done up like ringleaders with their brightly coloured blouses, matching lipstick and updos. Even the house wine here is old school—Rioja Reserva from 2007—and as such there is a certain buzz to be gleaned from the whole experience.
Granted, there are many lunchtime menús in this city that come considerably cheaper than €25 and many that are far more adventurous. Casa Leopoldo is mainly about hearty, rib-sticking tradition—if you want a gooey, gelatinous pig’s trotter this is your place—balanced with a catch of the day for the less brave. But the real reason for coming here is to soak up the atmosphere, ponder the Barcelona of a bygone era and tuck into some good old-fashioned cooking. The menu changes by the week (check it out online first to see if you fancy it or not) and features classics such as revueltos (sloppy scrambled eggs) with wild mushrooms (‘tis the season after all), luscious secreto iberíco (the shoulder blade cut of an Iberian porker) with apple relish, raisins and pinenuts, and a fancy crema catalana foam with turrón ice-cream.
It’s quite a nice Friday lunchtime treat to signal the end of the week, and a useful place to have up your sleeve when the inevitable onslaught of Christmas visitors begins. If lunch can be rather quiet, the atmosphere at night can transport you to another time and place, an increasing rarity in a city that is full of trendy restaurants that could be anywhere in the world.
Sant Rafael 24, Raval. Tel. 93 441 3014. www.casaleopoldo.com. Open Tue-Fri, 1.30-3.30pm and 8.30-11pm; Sat, 1.30-4pm and 8.30-11pm; Sun, 1.30-4pm. Menú del día: €25 for three courses with wine; Chef’s Tasting Menu: €45 with wine.