Barcelona Eats: Ca L'Estevet in El Raval
For my one dinner in Barcelona on my overnight stopover, I was in the mood for some Spanish food. And if I could find something specifically Catalan, even better.
Earlier in the day, I had been groaning with a friend about the lack of good, Spanish restaurants, not to mention restaurants that specialize in regional Valencia food, in Valencia. Is the nature of the food? The tastes of the locals? Certainly, whenever my friends want to go out to eat, they suggest Japanese, Chinese, or hamburgers. I have definitely eaten more hamburgers in Valencia than anywhere else.
So, after having lunch at a Greek restaurant in Valencia, and before getting on a plane to the US, I really wanted Spanish food. Not far from my hotel, I found a restaurant which apparently is a modern reboot of a restaurant that traces a history back to 1890.
Set off a side street in the Raval neighborhood with lots of shawarma places nearby, the unassuming entrance opened into a surprisingly formal dining room with waiters dressed up in white jackets and bowties.
In addition to the regular menu, they had some daily specials. Interestingly, the regular menu was offered in Spanish, Catalan, and English, and when I asked for the Spanish menu, they gave me the specials in Catalan. The specials menu was only available in Catalan and English! (yes, the "e" in miercoles was replaced with a Chinese character, and strangely, the day of the week and month were in Spanish...)
The service started with a basket of bakery bread (not the typical parbaked stuff that you find in Valencia), and a plate of tiny olives.
Next, I had one of the specials, a salad of baby fava beans, cured cod strips, grated tomato, and roasted pepper. Note how in Spain, fava beans aren't peeled. Saves so much time. But I need to learn how they prepared these, because when I leave favas unpeeled, they're kind of bitter. These weren't bitter at all! There could have been a touch more salt overall, but I found this salad filling and refreshing.
My main course was the poto (squid), prawn, and meatball dish. I had learned in my cooking class in Palamós up the coast that the surf and turf combination of meat and seafood, like the squid stuffed with sausage we made in class, was typical of Catalan cuisine. The poto especially has a robust, meaty taste, matching well with the meatballs. This dish was perfect for a chilly evening.
I finished with the flan au rum, which was flambeed at the table. The warm outside was an interesting contrast to the chilled interior of the flan. I do prefer my flan even more eggy and creamy than this version, though it was still enjoyable.
As if that weren't enough, they also brought out a plate of mignardises. By this time I was totally stuffed!
I thoroughly enjoyed my meal here. I got to try some typical Catalan dishes in a refined atmosphere, without a lot of the annoying food trends invading (no curries or quinoa for once). Why can't we have a restaurant like this in the city of Valencia??