When someone refers to their romantic partner here, they say “Mi pareja”.
Pair. As in a ‘pair’ of shoes. You can’t really imagine one shoe without their mate, they are a couple, they fit. If you take one, the other shoe comes with it. Obviously. They are a pair.
That’s how Leoni, who is serving us, refers to her girlfriend Belen who is one of the chefs in the open kitchen. They are a pair and this is their shop. They specialise in brunches. In the few months that they have been open, they have become one of the foremost brunch destinations.
Which is a good thing, since Can Dendê is in Poble Nou. And although everyone always seems to be going on about how Poble Nou is on the cusp of big. I’m never convinced, the streets are mostly empty bar the few tourists that didn’t google map their hotel before booking and a few locals with dogs.
My sister and I walk down empty streets to get to it. A modern shop front with floor to ceiling windows. The blinds drawn to keep out the summer heat but inside it’s full. On a Tuesday. At 11:30. In August!
We scoop up the last two seats. Behind me, there is dry stores shelf. Not a: some-clever-interior-designer-came-up-with-this-merchandising-display. But a bona-fide – “this is where the sugar lives because we have a tiny open kitchen in the middle of the cafe and zero space for all these bags of sugar”.
Which brings me to the kitchen. The two chefs and one pot-wash are snug in there and there is no prep kitchen somewhere in the back. Which means no one is sloppy in their workspace or in themselves. I was listening to one of my heroes Ruth Rogers on BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs. She started River Cafe in 1987 with the late Rose Gray and they had an open kitchen before there was a trend for open kitchens. An open kitchen means better conduct, there is no screaming in an open kitchen, just teaching and learning.
At Can Dendê, the pace of the two cooks inside is swift without being frenetic. Despite this, Belén still has time to catch the eye of people walking in and nudge them over to a table with a nod of her head. The people inevitably linger over the plates of food waiting on the pass (which at Can Dendê is just the bar top) before ambling over to their table where Leoni appears smiling.
And that is another thing, no matter how good the service (unless we are talking about one of Danny Meyer’s seamless eateries) the best service you are likely to get is from people who have a vested interest.
Somehow I’ve gotten to the end of this and I haven’t mentioned anything about the food. Well of course it was good, love and smiles won’t make you hand over your money for a plate of poached eggs. These eggs though…they were pretty dreamy.
See this and more addresses on my Foodie in Barcelona Map
Ciutat de Granada 44
08005 Sant Marti / Poble Nou