Tag Archives: restaurant

Bodega Sepúlveda: Solid

A view you might be forced to enjoy for a while...

A view you might be forced to enjoy for a while...

Give it a try if… You are looking for well-prepared, classic tapas in a nice environment.

Steer clear if… You hate to be kept waiting a bit.

It must be pretty clear by now that, quite frankly, I am not a tapas enthusiast (CHOIR: OOOH!). I guess I am to blame for coming from a society where each person orders his or her plate (CHOIR: OOOOOH!) and is allowed to happily consume it – and just as happily share a part of it, if the mood strikes – without embarking on an awkward obstacle race with added problems such as, Who is going to take the first bite? And who the last? Who will prove to be too selfish? And who will need to shamefully wolf down a greasy kebab on the way home? Still, the occasional visit to a tapas restaurant can provide valuable lessons in social interaction – and if the place is as reliable as Bodega Sepúlveda, it might even end up being a gratifying experience.

A nice wine collection to complement those, ehem, cute little dishes

A nice wine collection to complement those, ehem, cute little dishes

Who Is Honouring Who?

In a time of austerity and ever-emptier dining tables, this classic restaurant – conveniently located a few minutes’ walk from the busy English-language movie theatre Renoir Floridablanca – is often quite packed. If you have not reserved a table, you will have to wait a while before they even acknowledge your presence to let you know you’d better forget it, thanks. If you do have a reservation, do not get overexcited: you will still be a victim of the typical barcelonian ASP (Acutely Selective Perception, as in “I only see or hear what I deem worthy of interrupting my very, very important contingent task”), but at least in the end you will get the privilege of giving them a significant amount of your money in exchange for their very, very precious services (another building block of the sometimes bewildering local attitude towards service).

Thank Cod!

Thank Cod!

Quality Saves the Day

Bodega Sepúlveda is not too cheap – you can easily spend 30-35 euros each, above average for this sort of place – but I consider its prices rather fair for the quality of the ingredients and the careful preparation. It does offer more than tapas if you wish, but so far I have ironically stuck to them on my visits. The results can be vaguely mixed: the buñuelos de bacalao and the tostada de atún are wonderful, some of the different types of croquetas and even the pan con tomate are unusually good, while the esqueixada tastes less divine than it looks and the patatas Sepúlveda are not too special. Yet on the whole you leave the place – which is also quite pleasant for its old-fashioned decor and quiet ambience, perfect to chit-chat the night away – feeling adequately rewarded. That is why I have been there a few times during the years, and I will keep returning (and bringing friends) every once in a while.

UPS Score (Utmost Perfection Scale): 7+/10

Bodega Sepúlveda: Carrer Sepúlveda 173 bis (Sant Antoni) – BCN  +34 93 323 59 44 – closed: Saturdays at lunch, Sundays all day –  website

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Speakeasy: Superior

Don't believe the hype. They'll let you in if you're able to pay the bill.

Don't believe the hype. They'll let you in if you're able to pay the bill.

Give it a try if… You want to spoil yourself, someone else, or both.

Steer clear if… You are not in the mood to play the V.I.P. game.

How do you turn something into something really special? One of the most clever ways is to put a lock on it. After all, in a male chauvinist society, any closed door becomes a saucy invitation. Me wants to entah. Me wants to make miiine. Urgh! Now, though, Mr. Man seems to have learned the lesson: that is how the same phenomenon that turned chastity belts into a miserably failed gimmick is currently giving birth to the successful fad of “clandestine” restaurants. Enter Speakeasy, hidden within the classic cocktail bar Dry Martini: so sexy that it quickly has become one of Barcelona’s worst kept secrets.

The Unlocker Gets Unlocked

Personally, I could not care less about all this. I guess as a – may I say gay? – well, gay man, my testosterone supply just does not respond to the manufactured allure of the “exclusive” tag. What I do care about is the service; the ambience; most importantly, the food. And luckily, beyond the marketing façade, Speakeasy stands out for delivering a superior experience in all three respects. That is a charm I simply cannot resist – so in I went (with the excuse of this year’s Barcelona Opportunity Week) and out I came, feeling terribly guilty; terribly bourgeois; and terribly fulfilled.

Great news: real substance beyond the show

Great news: real substance beyond the show

Chapeau!

Strangely enough, this dinner reminded me of the amazing meals at Le Signal, the French on-piste restaurant I mentioned in my previous post. Every course was equally well-conceived, forward-thinking and surprising: from the marinated salmon cube and mushroom truffle to the velvet crab soup with fennel parfait, from the touching roasted meat cannelloni (best I have ever had) to the sound duck confit, down to the exquisite vanilla & chocolate dessert, all details were impeccable – apart from one of the waiters, but hey, he must have been our pinch test to ensure we were not dreaming. Take note, perhaps for a special occasion. And may I please come along?

UPS score (Utmost Perfection Scale): 9-/10 + wow!

Speakeasy: Carrer de Aribau, 162 (Eixample Izquierdo) – BCN +34 932 17 50 80 – website