I got an email from someone at Lando the other day inviting me for a meal. I was simultaneously flattered and flummoxed as to what to do with the invitation? I know Lando but I hadn’t eaten there. In my mind it had tablecloths, which in reality it doesn’t and the people who ate there appeared to be well to do and tended to wear those faux leather leggings (that are surprisingly comfortable).
Normally, I try to write like no one is reading or else that I am relating the experience to a good friend: unedited. Otherwise I worry that my need to please might get in the way of what I truly think. (Surprised?)
Then a fellow blogger who writes over at Some Seeds, wrote suggesting we meet there for lunch. That’s what tipped it. We went incognito without a reservation.
It’s a lovely restaurant, in a cul-de-sac across from Bar Calders. The chairs inside are black HK Living Rotan chairs, comfortable enough that you lose track of time. Outside it’s Tolix chairs in banana yellow. The plates the food is served on have a thin lip of colour around the edge. The lights – great, I can only say good things about the look of the place.
The menu sounds kind of French; rabbit rillette (€6) and moules marinière (€7.5). But then there are things like tarama (€4), a Greek dish (which I love) made of cod roe. One of the main courses on the menu (€15) is chicken with ras el hanout.
A young blond waitress, with abundant tresses and a penchant for speaking at break neck speed explains what ras el hanout is. Which says more about Barcelona than it does about her. Barcelona seems to be completely unaware of the Ottolenghi effect or the subsequent Sabrina Ghayour effect. If you want pomegranate molasses in this city, you can get yourself over to the Mercat Abaceria, where a Syrian guy has a sparse stall selling 5 condiments. That’s it. I’m curious how it will manifest in this dish so that’s what I order.
It’s an entire skinless chicken breast cooked in a water bath (not my favourite method), napped in a glistening gravy, balanced on a few new potatoes with two pitted olives for company and some flower petals. A safe dish. The ras el hanout is a whisper in the whole thing. Being from the Middle East, I am comfortable with big flavours. In the Middle East Za’atar comes in a dish all on its own, you dip your flat bread into olive oil then into the za’atar. We call that breakfast.
Crepe Suzette for dessert, just the one, napped (again) in sweet sauce. The complimentary tile of chocolate fondant that they send over to us is much more successful and quite striking.
There is a huge effort from the group to do things differently. The chicken is free-range. The crusty bread is from Triticum. The staff are involved and clearly striving to do good things. I think they are done with the interior. I just think that the cooking is cautiously dipping its big toe to test the temperature of the water and I am tempted to push it in. Because I know it can swim and it will be just fine, it just needs to go ahead and take the plunge.
See this and find more addresses on my Foodie in Barcelona Map
Passatge Pere Calders, 6