If you fancy a bit of greenery with your lunch then hop on the train to the bosky Barcelona suburb of La Floresta. It’s a half-hour stroll from the FGC station along Avinguda Verge de Montserrat to the iconic Casa Blava, where the eponymous blue façade peeps out from amongst pine trees, holm oaks and the haphazardly parked cars of hungry diners. The cottage-like façade opens out dramatically onto a vast, sleek terrace clad in wooden decking and topped with a smoking open-air grill, but seeing as February is a bit nippy for those kind of shenanigans, head inside to the spacious dining room. It manages to be hip yet cosy, and even incorporates a glass-lined ‘chill-out room’ for anyone who wants to look at the trees. Although the restaurant has been going since 1925, the current proprietors are Argentines and this is the main influence on the menu, with plenty of cuts such as entraña, ojo de bife, or asado de tira thrown on the grill.
Casa Blava is not cheap, but portions are enormous and one starter would have been more than enough between two: we tried an excellent ‘Audrey’ salad (with wild mushrooms, walnuts, grilled artichokes, mixed winter leaves, goat cheese topped with ever-fashionable shavings of fried yucca), and some chicken croquetas that were so dense and meaty that they laughed in the face of the fried tubes of béchamel that usually pass for croquettes in Restaurant-land.
The grilled meat—half a rabbit and a vast slab of rare entraña—was absolutely superlative, although so ample that we ended up taking most of it home in a doggy bag. Even so, the dessert menu read so well that we couldn’t resist and, fortunately, we plunged ahead to try a wonderful lavender sponge with a white chocolate and raspberry ganache and rich olive-oil ice cream drizzled in blackcurrant and txakoli sauce.
Be warned that Casa Blava is a local classic and booking ahead is essential.
****Casa Blava; Av. Verge de Montserrat 1, La Floresta. Tel. 93 674 9351; www.casablava.com. Open: Tues-Sat 1pm-4pm, 9pm-11pm & Sun lunchtime. Three courses à la carte plus drinks, around €35. Lunch menú: €20.