Monday, October 19, 2009

Taller de Tapas, Barcelona

September 3rd, 2009. 9 PM.

Almost a week in Spain and no tapas crawl? I honestly wasn't that broken up about it. If I understand correctly, the point of tapas is to eat small plates of fresh, simple, tasty food while drinking in a convivial setting. In Japan that's available in a thousand places every night of the week. Still, it's inexcusable not to take in that local color, so we headed to El Born and the few streets with the most tapas places. This is actually a two-part review, but the second place was so crappy that it put us off going on to a third place. Bastards.

Taller de Tapas is well known, large, clean and professional. This may or may not be a good thing - a place like the nearby El Xampanyet is smaller, less clean and much more charming. But the food is supposed to be good at TdT, and I like the fact that they have tables. I know standing to eat and drink is part of the culture, but I can't get into rearing up on my hind legs, even if it means consuming chunks of roasted flesh with sweet peppers. The staff at TdT were dressed well and standing outside to welcome us in.

The menu seemed a bit like an embarassment of riches; we tried not to overorder. As always, I wanted to drink cava but tried to avoid seeming overly bossy about food by letting the group go for sangria again. Meh. TdT is dark, atmospheric in a recently-renovated way (probably newly-constructued, actually, but still with lots of old-seeming stonework), not that crowded but still noisy. The staff rushes around without seeming to see much, but it's not hard to corral one of them and order more food.

Croquettes are a normal tapas item. These were normal.

Big plate of grilled mackerel, bones and carcasses removed. Being Asian (kinda), we're happy to eat this stuff, maybe more than American tourists. It seems different from Japanese mackerel. Not better, just different.

Pread smeared with a thin layer of tomato is also a standard thing at tapas, and in fact in Spain. This was probably the best version we had anywhere, but it was far from being exciting.

Chorizos were pretty good.

The little green peppers that get roasted and served up in big plates taste just like Japanese shishito to me. Are they related? In any case, it's funny to eat something in Spain that you can't get in America, but can buy in 20-packs in any Japanese supermarket.

With all that food ordered in one rush, we took a little breather...just long enough to stick the camera out to the side of the table and get a picture. And start thinking about when we should cut things off so that we could try another place...

And then we received some 'main' dishes - country sausage with beans, one of the best things we had. I love a good sausage, in large part because I have them so rarely.

And again a piece of steak with pepper. This steak wasn't as good as the ones at Cervesaria Catalana. You should just go there. In fact, while I liked Taller de Tapas, and strolling around El Born at night, my basic review of the tapas scene is "Just go to Cervesaria Catalana". That said, we didn't get in to Cal Pep or El Xampanyet, and didn't try to go to Paco Meralga or Quimet & Quimet. But based on my own judgement of my own judgement in judging places from the exterior and menu, I'd say there's no place in El Born that matches CC.

We stopped the food at that point and headed out. With streets as interesting as this, who needs good food? Well, I for one still do, but it's a neat area. This street was deserted except for a stylish loungey restaurant place, but the streets next to it and intersecting it were some of the most busy around. We walked some more before picking another place.

Badly. This seemed to have a rougher, more casual aspect than TdT, but that roughness extended to the food preparation.

Meatballs. Can't go wrong with meatballs.

Fried squid. Bready, a bit soggy.

Spanish menu difficulties; probably wouldn't have gotten these deep-fried dough balls if we had known they were deep-fried dough balls. Not good.

Some in the party were still agitating for paella; I was still agitating for black rice, cooked with squid ink. We satisfied both dimensions with this dish. Unfortunately it wasn't much to write about.

And here we accidentally ordered a tripe soup. Again we didn't know it was tripe, and in the relative confusion of ordering a bunch of things we didn't know exactly how much we had gotten. When this came we tried to protest that we hadn't ordered it, and the waiter, bless him, pointed at one of our party and said "SHE ordered it." Which was true. In any case, we didn't eat much of it.

Ah well. A sad and uninspiring end to the evening. Things did get a lot better the next day when we visited some more tourist attractions and had The Best Ham In the World.

Taller de Tapas (via Laietana)
++93 481 62 33

No comments:

Post a Comment