Sometime ago I read that the exclusion zone around Chernobyl had become a “wildlife haven on a par with nature reserves“. Which made me think of that saying “Every end is a new beginning.” That in turn popped into my head when I took some friends to Lolita the other day. Lolita used to be called Inopia and was a joint venture between Albert Adria and Joan Martínez until Adria upped and left. The association of the Adria name just meant 2 hour queues and huge expectations. With Adria gone, Martínez slapped a distinctive puckered lips logo all over the place: napkins, t-shirts, walls, tiles – and renamed it Lolita.
“And the rest is rust and stardust.” as Vladamir Nabokov wrote in his novel Lolita.
The place makes me think of a children’s stack of blocks: uneven and unusual in its conception. In the best of ways – there is a large communal table up a few steps, tables and chairs outside, a few bar stools outside but looking in to the kitchen and the restaurant, stools tightly outlining the bar / kitchen – a cluster of formats any of which you gladly accept.
Vermouth, beer and Cava – these are the drinks you should consider, all of them ideal accompaniments to the salty, the briny, the rich and the vinegary fare you can expect. White anchovies in vinegar – a top olive oil fried crisps followed by a sip of Vermouth – large ice-cube plastered against your top lip, orange slice tickling your nose. Or a constellation of canned seafood – little clams or fat mussels. The Spanish do deep-fried so well and Lolita is no exception – calamari, bombas, croquetas all present and delicious.
They have kept a few of the Inopia dishes on – the most popular of which is the eggplant with molasses. They have the Quimet y Quimet classic of salmon with truffled honey (it sounds like it wouldn’t work but incredibly it does). There are plenty of things on bread – montaditos. Or cooked fare – like rabbit and snails.
For me its the little fish I can never get enough of.
It doesn’t seem like the most efficient of places. For a small place, the menu is extensive and there are dedicated stations for the many parts of it. So a high head count in the kitchen and on the floor. Orders are still taken with a pen and paper (ah the romance of it all) and you get to hear it all called out to the kitchen or the bar. For me though, the transparency, the passion and the many salted fish mean I am a fan.
08015 Sant Antoni