Saturday, March 31, 2012

Food in Barcelona

After two trips to Barcelona, I am convinced that it is impossible to eat at a restaurant, cheaply. But at the same time I can say that eating at a restaurant in this city is worth the cost.

My first trip was in December and I decided to eat a nice dinner outside of my hotel. It was 9 p.m. or later when I went for dinner and most restaurants had closed. But I finally came across one that was open and went in. I don't remember the name but it seemed fancy. I felt under-dressed. I decided to order the menu of the day which was served in several courses. First came the break with tomato sauce and olive oil. They also served "aceitunas" and carrots. Later came a plate of steamed (or grilled) vegetables. That is where I learned to eat asparagus. After the vegetables came the main course, "dorada" with more vegetables.

The service was awkward. Most of the time, the waiter refused to speak to me in Spanish, which is common in Barcelona (I think the people like to practice their English), and for the majority of the meal he was standing two or three tables away watching me eat. I don't like people watching me eat. "Would you like to pull up a chair and join me," I thought. In Spain, unlike in the USA, the waiter only comes by a few times, not every ten minutes. This may be partly because there are no free refills on drinks or tips.

My second trip also had several experiences with food. Lunch was hard to find -- my tapa bar from the previous trip was closed. But we found paella and chicken on a stick. Dinner though was easy to find after we left Plaza de Espa├▒a. After being disappointed when the Magic Fountain of Montijuic didn't come on for the 8:30 show, dinner was no disappointment. I had a mixed plate with Baclao that tasted great. The sangria tasted so much better than the imported Sangria I have found in the USA. And the desert was no exception. The chocolate dipped fruits were amazing and the "Crema Catalan" didn't even compare with what I can buy in the stores. I give the food and the service an A+ at the restaurant.

The waiter greeted us upon arrival and was fairly prompt in asking if we wanted anything else after we ate. He didn't watch us eat the entire time either. Although it wasn't a fancy restaurant, the atmosphere was great. Eating outside with a fire lamp burning nearby for heat is nice. If I come back to Barcelona, Xop Dor, may have to be on my destination list.

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