Photo by Patricia Esteve
When word went round a few months ago that Carles Abellan was opening a new venture (sponsored almost entirely by the brewer Moritz) in a fantastic Art Deco building at the top of Carrer Muntaner, Barcelona’s dining public drew breath. Partly because of his kudos as one of the best chefs in town, partly for the opportunity to get inside one of the city’s landmark buildings, partly because, if rumour was to be believed, it opened at 6am in the morning.
Built in 1909 by the Catalan architect Manuel Joaquim Raspall, the building was converted into a bar-restaurant in 1933 and became a popular meeting place for members of the Govern de la República during the Spanish Civil War. During the Sixties and Seventies it was taken over by la gauche divine (a movement of leftist politicians and artists) and became a fashionable nightspot throughout the Eighties and Nineties before closing its doors in 2000.
Unfortunately, the atmosphere a century after its birth doesn’t quite cut the mustard, arising somewhere between a British pub and dodgy Spanish discoteque. On the up side, if you bag a seat front of house among the pale green banquettes, it all looks rather jolly. Less so tucked beneath the stairs, where we were seated until we asked to move. Upstairs you get a decent view in dimly lit surrounds, and the groovy red leather sofas all look promising after a heavy night out. Let’s face it, with Christmas festivities in full swing, we need all the help we can get.
As tapas destinations go, it is average at best, but the rumours are true: Bar Velódromo’s strength lies in early morning breakfasts. Kick off with a good strong cortado washed down with a cleansing green apple and basil chaser. Follow up with a large dish of ous de Calaf (Calaf eggs) in various guises. My personal favourite being estrellados—over-easy and broken on top of a pile of French fries—with a generous heap of botifarra de Perol stirred in. Fuelled on this little lot you have half a chance of re-entering the civilised world smiling. Happy Christmas.
Bar Velódromo, Muntaner 213. Tel. 93 430 6022. Open daily 6am-2.30am. €12-€15 for breakfast.