This is a guest post from foodie and traveller Shaan, who wants to share his opinion about Barcelona’s lunchtime offerings.
15€ for a three course meal and you are probably thinking you have settle for restaurants that serve reheated frozen meals. But in Barcelona where siestas are de rigueur, lunch breaks are long and local love to indulge, you can actually get a remarkably decent lunch on a tight budget. Most restaurants have a Menu Del Dia (Lunch Specials) which is a three course set meal and generally include a drink (wine, beer or water) and sometimes coffee and bread. These start around 9€ and in most places the lunch menu is served from 1200 until 1530 with peak time being around 1400. With Spain boasting some of the best restaurants in the world, it comes to no surprise that Spaniards have a knack at cooking up creative dishes and unusual food combinations. To get a taste of their creativity you don’t have to break the bank as quite a few upper scale restaurants offer very affordable Menu del Dia. The best area to go to in our experience is Eixample just off Passeig de Gràcia. This is where the well-heeled locals eat out and where the tourist staples – patatas bravas or galician pulpo are either a rarity or have a twist to them. Below are a few restaurants we’ve sampled for you
The dishes served up by Topik are probably best described as Catalan with a twist. Catalan cuisine, although delicious can be on the rustic side. However, Topik manages to make Catalan dishes elegant with a hint of fusion from other cuisines.
From the Menu del Dia, I had the melon cream soup with salmon which intrigued me. The strange combination of sweetish melon with salmon I thought worked like a treat. However, my other half could not get past the idea of having a fruit with salmon. If you don’t feel adventurous, there are more familiar combinations, like hake “a la plancha” with a crayfish sauce. For deserts I had the “macedònia de fruites” which is essentially a fruit salad but they made it with lightly preserved fruits.
My other half had panna cotta with a berry coulis. Both our deserts were delicious.
Service at Topik is not very consistent as in most restaurants we have been to in Barcelona. On some days it is excellent and other days it can be very average. It is probably due to the fact that tipping is not expected in Spain. Since you can’t pay for good service you have to take your chances with the whimsical mood of the waiters. Use all the soft interpersonal skills you’ve learnt at kindergarten (or management course) – be charming, friendly or even flirty and they will treat you like a crony (think free flow of vino) !
The menu at the Topik is in Catalan (google translate attempts to decipher the menu) but one of the friendly waiters can translate it for you in English. Do check the opening times of the restaurant as they are sometimes not open on Mondays/Sundays
Topik’s webpage is here.
La Polpa is a Mediterranean fusion restaurant which we have thoroughly enjoyed. We think it is one of the better run restaurants. They do have a lunch menu in English which is great on days you don’t feel like battling with foreign words or human translators. The Menu del Dia is also the cheapest we have seen for this quality at 10.85 €. We were even given a choice of white wine. Generally with the lunch special, you are only offered house wine and if you are a wine snob these are not very remarkable. Even though both wines offered were easy drinking wines it was nice to be given the choice of dry or fruity white wine. Having a choice of grape for your wine – chardonnay, sauvignon blanc or the wonderfully average rueda verdejo that the Spanish wants to flog to you, is unsual with Menu del Dia at this price point.
We had a wonderful salad and gazpacho as starters and for mains I had roast beef with tuna mayo.
To hedge the bets my other half had a chicken curry. This unusual combination of tuna mayonnaise and capers does indeed work with beef. The tuna add depths of flavour to the mayonnaise without adding an overbearing fishiness. I was quite delighted with my choice. My other half thought his curry was nice but being a curry connoisseur he thought it could do with some additional spices.
La Polpa’s webpage is here.
//Shaan is an avid traveller and food lover.
He is part of a monthly foodclub with 5 fab friends tasting their way through London’s restaurants.
Food club insta handle: https://www.instagram.com/foodclub41/