Photo by Patricia Esteve
Fans of the upbeat Sifo bar in the Raval will be pleased to know that a little sibling has been born. Less about drinking killer capirinhas and dancing than a civilised vermut and a dish of olives, Sifo Xico hits a high note in Poble Sec. It’s tiny, but the long bar, big wooden tables and sense of space make it seem like so much more, as does a cheery welcome and a menu card of seasonal goodies that makes you want to sit down and eat.
There’s no menú del día here, and it could probably do with one to pull in the crowds—prices a la carte are a little keen—but atmosphere-wise you get a soulful village bistro feel with great jazz and early Sixties’ swing, making it exactly the kind of place you want to hole up with friends. That the bar-top is laden with fresh fruit and vegetables from the market first thing in the morning makes it all the more attractive.
There is nothing more simple, nor perhaps more wonderful, than a salad of mixed leaves plucked fresh from the garden, or in this case Nico’s huerta. All are butter-tender and perky, with nothing more than a drizzle of good olive oil and vinegar. Aubergines escabeche are firm and tender without being too spongy, as aubergines are wont to be, though the pickling needed to mellow a bit.
Mains are a little more gutsy. The venison stewed in an earthy sauce of bitter chocolate and wine is superb and comes with plenty of good, crusty bread for mopping up the juices. Giant costillas de cerdo (pork ribs) have lots of good, porky flavour, but they need another half hour in the oven to achieve falling-off-the-bone perfection. A side of roast sweet potato wedges matches up to the fatty ribs perfectly.
Puddings are fairly traditional—a decent crumble and a dulce de leche pancake ensure we roll out of there feeling indecently full. It is, after all, only Tuesday.
Three courses without wine, €20-€25
Open daily 8am-midnight.