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The Rooftop Smokehouse began as one of those delicious rumours; a band of renegade young cooks who, by all accounts, were creating extraordinary pastrami on the roof terrace of a Sant Antoni apartment block. One day, a couple of years ago, they suddenly emerged at a Saturday afternoon pop-up at the emblematic La Confitería, better known to me as a late night haunt for a penúltima: that fatal small hours tipple that tends to send you over the edge and makes you want to die in the morning.
That Saturday afternoon, however, was a revelation. Chefs Buster Turnofski and Jakob Zeller, alongside their small crew, were serving thick wooden boards laden with the best pastrami I’ve eaten since I last had a Rueben (a stellar smoked mackerel pâté with pickled beets and horseradish) on rye at Katz’s Deli in New York. Their enterprise grew into a food truck, which they took to various events, but it seemed clear to all who ate their food it would only be a matter of time before they moved on to something more substantial than a pop-up. And so, when La Confitería came to them last year and said they needed something for the shop front of their new speakeasy-style bar, El Paradiso in the Born, it was a no-brainer.
The team now split their time between the marble-lined Pastrami Bar and their work space at the Fàbrica Lehmann, which is where the magic happens. Sticklers for quality and provenance can rest assured that they source meat from the happy beasts at Cal Rovira, sustainable fish from local markets, organic vegetables from farmers’ markets, and then liberally love it into food that you’ll find yourself craving, as I do now, when life takes you far from home. The choices are simple: maddeningly tasty sandwiches stacked with their legendary pastrami, or posher smoked duck, grilled smoked cheese with shallot chutney or mackerel pâté with sides that go from gherkins on a stick to bowls of addictive fermented sauerkraut.
That you can then disappear, Alice in Wonderland style, through the fridge of El Paradiso into a speakeasy straight out of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and quaff cocktails by master mixologist Giacomo Giannotti long into the night is, frankly, the stuff that dreams are made of.
The Rooftop Smokehouse. Rere Palau 4.