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Photo by Markus Kreutzer
Simple elegance and great food make L'Office a great place to gather
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Photo by Markus Kreutzer
There are few places in Barcelona that call to mind a true Parisian bistro but L’Office is among them, and I can’t think of anywhere better to gather with friends for a pre-Christmas blowout. Like the bistros of yore, it is tightly packed, casually decorated—the main point of interest being a giant portrait of a pig—and brimming over with the kind of jolly bonhomie that makes old-school bistros such wonderful places in the first place.
They run a tight ship too, with Chef Jerome in the kitchen and just one waiter to cover the floor, but it works like a dream. There’s a lot to be said for an uncomplicated menu that is full of things you want to eat, like pork terrine, truffled eggs and steak tartar, especially when matched to an equally short, mainly French wine list that isn’t insanely expensive: a very good Guy Amiot & Fils Pinot Noir from Burgundy, for example, costs €26.
Around us a largely Catalan clientele tucked in. There were a trio of enthusiastic octogenarians in the corner, a well-heeled gent with a much younger lady sipping champagne, a group of friends celebrating Friday, and each and every one of them drinking deeply from the cup of life. Which is just how it should be, and in that respect L’Office is fabulously French, offering solid, unpretentious food in a place where you come to have a good time rather than earnestly discuss the merits of every ingredient on your plate.
I started with a bowl of lightly steamed and salted veggies with a side of caper mayo. Simple yes, but taut and tasty as if they’d been plucked from the ground that morning, followed by a juicy pink hunk of onglet (the deeply flavourful cut of beef from the diaphragm) drizzled with a rich wine and shallot sauce, a scoop of buttery mash and a pile of gently wilted spinach. I wish I’d had room for the trio of French cheeses or a slice of clafoutis with apples and Calvados, but that’s for next time.
For now, it was the most enjoyable lunch I’d had in ages and good value when you’re eating at this level. If you pass by during the week, Jerome offers a daily bistro classic for €12: among other things Bouef Bourgogne on Tuesdays and Blanquette de Veux on Thursdays. Until 2013 then...Happy Christmas one and all.
L’Office Carrer Villaroel 227, 93 444 2288, www.officebcn.com.
Open Mon 1.30pm-4pm, Tue to Sat 1.30pm-4pm, 8.30pm-midnight. Closed Sun. 2 courses €22, 3 courses €28 not including wine.