It was my brother’s birthday and I offered to take him out for a meal in Barcelona; he wanted to sample some of the city’s tapas. I can’t say that either I nor Blai were that familiar with the tapas places in Barcelona; he’s always quick to point out that tapas were unheard of in Catalunya until very recently. I suggested one place that always seemed to have good reviews both on blogs and in newspapers – Taller de Tapas. It’s now quite the chain; we were running into branches here and there as we wandered the city but the menu did look tempting and so it was decided. We were going to head to Taller de Tapas, to the first branch in the shadow of Santa Maria del Pi.
After having coffee and xocolata at La Granja, we made our way to that branch and found it quite busy. Luckily, they were able to find a table for us and we settled in and wondered how all the tapas we wanted were going to fit on our small table! Space is at a premium here; tables are very close to each other and it’s very easy to overhear the conversation going on at neighbouring tables (those conversations were in all different languages, of course. It looks like this place is recommended to everyone around the world). Still, it felt like a fun place to eat and the tapas themselves looked good on the menu. Don’t come here looking for creative tapas dishes; everything is quite classic and old-school.
Xipirones were the first to arrive at our table and became our favourite dish of the night. So much so that we even ordered another plate towards the end of our meal. One can never have too many crispy fried baby squids.
We also ordered the very Catalan dish of Escalivada (grilled vegetables) with Anchovies were alright. The anchovies were delicious as were most of the vegetables but the onions should have been cooked longer.
The Sepia a la Planxa were tender and tasty.
We were all quite taken with the Fried Eggs and Potatoes with Ham. The eggs were fried at a high heat, allowing the whites to go all brown and crispy at the edges – just the way we like them! And with the salty ham – delicious! The only quibble is with the draining of the fried potatoes and eggs; there was quite an oil slick on the plate.
My Patatas Bravas order was pooh-poohed by Blai as being for tourists but you know what – I LIKE the fried potatoes with their sauces. I like fried potatoes full stop. These were alright but I have to say that aioli was a little too pungent even for me! We had to scrape off some of the white sauce before we could eat it.
The Padrón peppers could have been a little more tender as they’d obviously spent not enough time in their hot oil bath. No hot ones in this plate. (Actually, no hot ones this entire trip!)
The Fried Artichokes were thinly sliced like those at Cerveseria Catalana but they weren’t as expertly fried. Again, they could have done with better draining and they were on the greasy side. The best are still my mother-in-law’s!
The Pan Fried Wild Seasonal Mushrooms were excellent, being well cooked and tossed with garlic and parsley.
Dessert caused us a bit of grief; it was almost impossible to flag down a server to order. The restaurant was clearly understaffed and overfilled. When our waiter finally got to us, we ordered homemade flans all around and while mine (pictured) was fine (not amazing though), Blai’s caramel was burnt and my brother’s flan was hard and unappetising. It took us quite a while to flag down a waiter to mention it and when we finally managed to, to their credit, he took it off the bill without any argument. Needs improvement, as my old elementary school report card would say.
Overall, I’d say the tapas here were alright (though some dishes certainly need work and the kitchen needs to take its time a little more) but not a place I’d seek out again. The total bill was about €70 (I can’t seem to find the receipt and not all the tapas are listed on their website), not unreasonable for a tapas meal for three. Most importantly, the birthday boy was happy. Happy birthday, little brother!
Taller de Tapas
Plaça Sant Josep Oriol 9 (Plaça del Pi)
There are a few other locations; please refer to their website.