So we covered the ‘Cafe Schilling’ in a previous post :) (Just let me add that you don’t want to leave Barcelona without trying their Serrano Ham plate!)
Barcelona is FULL of food – the markets! (I liked the Mercat Santa Caterina more than La Boqueria – more locals and more tapas to take with you picnic style.)
Then there’s the cafes… little corners like ‘Cafe L’Antiquari’ on Plaça del Rei in the midst of the Barri Gotic – cozy, yummy, adorable space to drink some Roja. ‘Divinus’ on Passeig De Garcia – sit in the sun and watch the fancy shoppers strut their stuff and nibble on their stuffed Eggplant…wow.
For a day in the sun and watching the blue of the Mediterranean, head down to Barceloneta and wonder the boardwalk. I popped into the new ‘W’ hotel which is built on an outcropping of the beach.
Shaped like a giant mirrored sail and located on an incredible spot, the ‘W’ Barcelona is an impressive sight and acts like a homing-beacon, pulling you in. But inside, the ‘W’ is typically Las Vegas-style ‘new-mod-chic-gool.’ Clinical, lots of waterfalls and reflecting pools, twinkly lights, and no smiles. Typically ‘W,’ the bathroom handles are mod and fancy and already half-broken, and the stupid lounge in the lobby makes you uncertain if you may walk, talk, laugh.
But there is an amazing wine bar on the sunny side of the hotel! Shaded from wine and with a view of the unending blue and some concrete and the sound of building construction… it has a great wine list. Downstairs, on the shady side and with a view back towards Barceloneta and the roller-bladers on the boardwalk, are cozier spots with livelier views and varied menus. Have a glass of cava at the Cocktail Lounge downstairs and some calamari dripping in lemon and oil :)
And then………. Òleum.
Words… don’t cut it. Just…. breathe it in.
I discovered the restaurant by quasi-accident: huh? Well, I had, like a good little student, done my homework on Barcelona and knew I wanted to visit the Palau Nacional & Musea Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. The magnificent building, inspired by St. Peter’s in Rome, and built for the 1929 World Expo, is located in the vast grounds of Parc de Montjuic. It has a beautifully restored organ pavilion inside, reopened for the 1992 Olympics.
Based on the description, I thought it was worth a look-see. And there was MENTION of a cafe and restaurant.
The cafe is a good break from looking through second rate paintings by some sorta-known masters before heading upstairs to look at the great collection of Miros and Mucha and Dali and furniture by Barcelona’s own Antonio Gaudi. Decent coffee.
BUT THE RESTAURANT.
Let’s start with the view. That alone would be enough. But then you look at the marbled walls, the tromp l’oeil ceilings and decoration, the gargoyles and the white tablecloths, the gleaming glasses waiting for a sip of crisp chardonnay or a smooth roija. Hmmmm.
The building itself is technically free – the exhibits are €10 to see. So you can technically access this restaurant without paying the entrance fee… and don’t pay any attention to the museum staff’s ‘decree’ that you MUST have a reservation. The restaurant staff are quite happy to seat you, pamper you, treat you, adore you.
The service was perfect – I barely had to think about a want, a desire, and then there was a black-uniformed waiter with a smile and a basket of bread. Would you like Olive Bread? Onion Bread? Tomato bread? Or Plain? LOL. Um? All????
The food… ALMOST too good to eat. ALMOST. Their risotto with truffle, porcini, and pumpkin and served with a sprig of rosemary for perfume and decor is worth an entire day of enjoyment. Their salmon, stuffed with spinach, bacon and Idiazabal cheese and served with white kidney bean mousse…. Moan.
If you are on a budget in Barcelona – this restaurant (that is actually quite reasonable in comparison to prices in LA, San Diego or Amsterdam), is well worth scrimping and saving for a lunch!
And make sure to order a glass of the house cava :)