Thursday, September 10, 2009

Milk Bar, Barcelona

After Saturday I had the feeling that I might never eat again...but Sunday came up clear and humid, and after a good 10 hours in bed hunger set in. Jet lag and a windowless apartment made it hard to venture out, so Dre had already scoped the neighborhood and found this place by the time we dared exit our cave. Good job spotting it too, as the Barri Gotic isn't great on breakfast options - it's more notable for alleys like this one and odd bits of nightlife. Then again, it's not really breakfast when this place opens 11-4 for their weekends-only 'Recovery Brunch' and we show up at 12.

'Milk Bar' should be a good tip that it's foreign, and in fact the owners are Irish. Can I digress and say that I've grown to hate Irish bars? They're the McDonald's of international drinking. Certain sections of both Tokyo and Barcelona are full (relatively) of Irish bars and, like McDonald's, they replicate a specific experience. [I must pause to say I actually quite like McDonald's's products, but one has to approach with a frame of reference that treats them as separate and novel foodstuffs, not substitutes for the traditional 'ham-burger' or 'chicken-nugget'.] Usually named something approriately authentic and louche like McCarthy's or Dirty Nelly's or Rumple McForeskin's or Pogue Mahone, the International Irish Bar, instead of small, oddly shaped-and-colored simulacra of traditional food products, replicates pints of Guiness, smoke, stained carpet and bad smells (and presumably rollicking, drunken good times. Slainte!). Never having been to Ireland I don't know how authentic this ambience is, but it's certainly close to the classic hotels I remember from Sydney, which are at least cousins.

Fortunately these good and upstanding Irish Spaniards have gone creative and avoided any cliches that would reference the dread IIB. Sofas, groovy wall hangings, small flowers, big breakfasts, coffee. The ambience is the thing since it's primarily a night spot (beers, cocktails, food), not actually a brunch venue. It's very soothing even though it's a bit calculated and international-boho-chic.

Beer taps for evening. The staff seemed to think I was odd for taking a picture of this. At the time, I thought it was perhaps a normal tap and it was one of those situations where the locals were surprised by tourists taking pictures and tittering over the most mundane details ("Look dear, plastic sushi!"), but now I just don't get it. This tap is awesome any way you look at it. Unfortunately it doesn't feature the name of major brewer Estrella's main product, which is called Damm, but I'm sure we'll get a picture of that in later. The cocktail lounge ambience at night must be quite good if the taps are this cool and the wallpaper is that vintage.

Yes, I took pictures in the bathroom. I took a lot of pictures on this trip - I got Europe approximately never, and things like El Bulli are likely to be once-in-a-lifetime.

This wall-of-comics was too funny to miss. Perhaps it's a Spanish tradition to laquer the walls of toilets with comics.

But perhaps not. In any case, Yay! Spider-Man! YAAY!!

Should you be wondering, they did indeed serve breakfasts bigger than your head (picture not actual size; the quantity of potatoes was somewhat daunting in real life). I managed to snap off a quick shot of one (mine). This was fresh, tasty, eggy, potato-ey, contained mass quantities of genuinely spicy chorizo nuggets, and was more than sufficient to warrant a recommendation to visit should you be in need of weekend Gotic brunch in Barcelona. Strangely, I was hungry two hours later...

Ah, there you are then. The owners designed the place to look like a "millionaire's drawing room". That explains it then.
+34 93 268 09 22

At left, a gratuitous placement shot from the Barri Gotic. There's a lot of graffiti on the doors.

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