No. 9: Bar Raval
A visit to this standing room-only Spanish-themed bar is an education.
It is a study first in how an inspired, smart design firm (Partisans) and a good batch of African mahogany can transform an ordinary looking little watering hole into a place of transporting beauty. And next, for anyone who has yet to eat out in Spain, it provides a delightful lesson on what pintxos and tapas are all about. You think fresh seafood is better than tinned? Think again. In Spain, where the fish markets are immeasurably better than our own, many a discriminating consumer still values the tinned goods over the fresh. A small can of top quality olive oil-packed squid, cockles, octopus or baby eels can easily set you back $50. Showing you why—at a small fraction of that cost—is just one small part of Grant van Gameren’s latest culinary mission.
And once you have tried his tinned razor clams, or the sardines, or the firm and mildly smoky oil-packed mackerel, you will understand. So you can move on to the baby squid braised in pork fat, the toast topped a slice of blood sausage and a fried quail’s egg, drizzled with brightening parsley sauce, or maybe the salt cod croquetas. Try anything. Try it with sherry, of which the variety is extensive—or just a cocktail, each of which is cutting edge.