The first rains and cold weather in Motherland – and there appears a desire to get some more sunny days and summer mood. Barcelona at the end of September and in October is a perfect place for this case.
The sea is still warm and the weather is moderately hot with a light sea breeze. And from the culinary point of view Spain is the richest land, known all over the world for its seafood dishes, paella, tapas, jamon … so I made my way to try all of these in the most entourage places in the centre of Barcelona.
Because of several business meetings I made my way through Warsaw. I was getting there by car through Yahodyn – Dorohusk checkpoint. I know this way pretty well, that’s why even there I have some favourite places that I can recommend …
(near Lublin, 110 km from Yahodyn – Dorohusk checkpoint)
Perhaps it’s the most famous place on this highway. But famous doesn’t mean common. The inn has absorbed the whole entourage of old Poland and its national cuisine.
In the interior you can find trees growing upside down, massive wooden furniture and various home utensils.
The part of cooking facilities is located right in the hall. They bake their own bread, cook hot meat dishes on the open grill, and a fireplace with constantly burning live fire provides more coziness.
The establishment is opened 24 hours and, just imagine, is always full!
The main feature of the venue is big …no! just HUGE helpoings!!! The first course outcome is, for example, 700 ml, and the main – even up to 800 g – 1 kg!
The menu is big and varied. It makes me glad as a Guest, but it disappoints me a bit as a restaurateur. Still, for the class of a restaurant reveals in a maximum brief choice. Although, this is a democratic concept, so it can be excused. Season dishes are constantly updated; there is also a molecular cuisine. Thank God, at least there is no pizza and sushi…
As to the taste – everything is wonderful! Sour rye soup and a helping of 20 (yes, twenty) varenykys (filled dumplings) with 4 kinds of cabbage salad didn’t fit in me… and it all cost 15 euro, that is a bit expensive. But observing regularly filled hall seating capacities you can understand that big helpings are more important that price…
As to the service – not so good… I don’t like it there. No smiles, no greetings… it’s all a kind of simple and automatic … and in Poland it’s like that practically everywhere. If you ask me about Polish service, I can characterize it with one phrase – not friendly.
But it’s not that bad if the waiter in “BIDA” doesn’t smile. It is terrifying that when you don’t know about the helpings size and order a salad, a first course, a second course, a side dish and a dessert at once… I saw such a poor one at the next table, who was “dying” over actually a pan of boiled buckwheat with liver…
BEER BAR “ELEPHANT”
(Warsaw, Freta street 19)
I really apologize to the manufacturers, but talking about Polish beer is the same as talking about Ukrainian champagne. From one side it exists, but from the other side it is too far from being perfect.
That’s why if I feel like drinking some beer in Warsaw, I go to a conceptual beer bar “Elephant” with the choice of Belgian beer of 250 sorts!
The cookery menu is simple at all. Burgers, French fries, crisps. I always take some small bricks of a tasty Lithuanian cheese “Djugas”.
Beer on tap is quite expensive, but it’s always fresh. Although you can take some bottled beer. In the improvised cooling chamber (which is cooled with the help of an ordinary air conditioner) there is a showcase from which you can choose.
Two 0,3 l beers and the cheese will cost 11 euro. Not quite cheap for a couple of beers…
The bar owner is always behind the bar stand and is always glad to discuss some topics of the day. A Polish man, but he speaks English.
I was a bit shocked by evening Barcelona… The central street called La Rambla is full of sloppy Gypsies, Asians and just rascals offering “Coffee Shop, Night Club, maybe good girls”…
It’s dirty around and the shutters on expensive shops windows (we got there at 10 p.m. when shopping was over) are covered with slovenly graffiti.
The house fronts are not illuminated.
5 years ago when I visited this place for the first time everything was much more pleasant. Now it looked more like Amsterdam.
But in the morning the view was different. The incredibly pleasant historical street of the capital of Catalonia. Flowers, merry music, fresh sea wind… everything is clean and neat. The “promoters” have disappeared.
One thing is common for mornings and evenings in La Rambla – you shouldn’t eat here. It’s expensive and not tasty. There is an impression that all establishments are for tourists-“suckers”, and the prices are driven up just for the view of the central street from the windows.
One local person that I know says that paella is not tasty in all places there as they use canned prepared products. I willingly believe this as I didn’t like it too.
The only worthy place in La Rambla is “La Boqueria” market. It’s a paradise for a real gourmet!
“LA BOQUERIA” food market
(19, La Rambla street, Barcelona)
The market meets you with its noise, a great number of tourists and incredibly vivid and appetizing products laying outs on showcases. Jamon, fruit, seafood, bakery – everything is arranged so vividly and inviting. Sellers gladly start talking to you and let taste their products.
The feature of many stalls is that you can have a meal there; they will cook everything right in your presence. They can even squeeze some fresh passion fruit juice!
I invariably go to one and the same place – a seafood stall called “UNIVERSAL”. Their products themselves are of the standard market assortment, but they cook best of all. And the prices are twice cheaper compared to central stalls at the entrance!
A seafood plateau for 2 people will cost 30 euro. And don’t forget about some bread. You will want to soak it into the rest of the oil in the plate!
They cook on the open grill surface, adding some delicious garlic oil. I don’t eat garlic of any kind at all, but at that place it is a kind of special, not strong and odorous, but just a bit fragrant.
The market is open till 6 p.m.
Talking about seafood, in other restaurants a smaller helping costs around 70-100 euro and more…
The only place from the democratic segment that deserves attention concerning seafood is a Japanese restaurant-buffet “Kaitensushi He”, where you can try a wide assortment of seafood.
Café “GRANJA M. VIADER”
(Carrer d’en Xucla, 4-6, Barcelona)
Only 50 metres aside from La Rambla – and here it is, entourage Spain and its famous cuisine! The café of the Viader family, known for their cheese manufacture since 1870.
Everything is so “old school” here! Shabby door handles, floor, flaky walls, an old showcase with food and elderly but very friendly staff!
Choose anything to your taste: sandwiches with foie gras and cheese, or maybe a baguette with jamon and cheese, or some apple pie with cinnamon, or churros with their special hot chocolate…
From the showcase you can buy a lot of kinds of cheese, ham, kefir, yoghurt, confiture, chocolate to try. All those items are made in!
The most memorable thing is cacao in glass bottles. It can be served either hot or cold. They have been manufacturing it since 1933. May they not get offended, but I will use this idea in one of my establishments.
The taste gets the highest grade, the service is super, the atmosphere is incredible. I had breakfast here for 2 days and will come here again with pleasure!
“LONJA DE TAPAS” restaurant
(Pla de Palau 7, Barcelona)
In the evening I wanted to try some real Spanish paella. Following the advice of my local friend I went to the restaurant called “Lonja de Tapas”.
I would call it a beautiful place, but not quite tasty. The interior is very cosy. A kind of soft home loft. The collection of wine at one of the walls reminds that you are in a wine-making country.
But the dishes and service are not so good. The staff was not wearing any uniform and was of Asian appearance. They could hardly speak or understand any English. Paella did not contain any tiger prawns as it is served in many venues. But the taste was all right. Correct seasoning and enough seafood.
Actually, I just spent the evening in that establishment, I didn’t enjoy it…
ICE CREAM AND CHURROS
Walking around the city in hot weather you are sure to want some ice-cream. Besides, there are massive stalls and showcases with this dessert almost everywhere. It’s tasty everywhere, but there are places where it is increeeedibly tasty.
For me one of such “spots” is a shop with Italian ice-cream “DINO” in Ferra street.
High quality product and creative marketing. All details, starting with laying out to showing videos of ice cream manufacturing, are well thought over. And the taste. It’s excellent! And the range – about 20 kinds!
And the ball size makes you glad. Ordering 1 ball you actually get twice as much. And it is like that in all ice-cream spots.
And more… while there is some free room in your stomach – eat churros. You can have them with or without hot chocolate. It is incredibly tasty! And it’s sold everywhere. Even in ice cream stalls.
If you happen to be in Poland – write me about the places with friendly service in the comments. I have not met it yet and it is disappointing. The country with one of the most developing economies in Europe. Why to be so sad?
Polish cuisine resembles ours, but it’s much more substantial, a lot of smoked products are used in dishes. To evaluate the establishment you should try some sour rye soup, tripe, and some baked home sausage. These dishes are tasty almost everywhere.
And the main business observation: a big helping eclipses a big price. This tendency was practically proven by me. Pizza in one of our chains is more substantial and “rich” than that of the competitors, and the price is 10% higher… but our pizza is known and the venue is well attended.
Spain disappointed a bit with a great amount of guest workers. There are many Asians who can hardly speak English. And as it was noted, the service in such venues is bad because they don’t possess the European restaurant culture of hospitality. That’s why while passing by a café you should have a look at the hostess: if thеre are no Spanish (or European looking) people, you should think if it’s worth going there.
And generally, Spain is magnificent for its cookery, cheerful service and moderate prices compared even to Germany.