There is a large table at the back of Bodega Borràs for lunch today. Silver-haired customers, in their ultralight weight puffer jackets, Catalan, from the neighbourhood and therefore most likely wealthy. That’s why they all order the menu del dia. I don’t know what they are talking about, maybe someone’s cataract surgery but they have the ease of people who know the hard part is behind them. One of the younger women, in her sixties, goes to lean over the bar and asks a question. She surreptitiously rests her hand on the handsome head waiter’s lower back before moving onto his arm and leaving her hand there. I’m going to be that woman I think.
Next to me another older couple is seated, they greet me as they sit down. He faces the wall, as is his lot and waits for her to make the decisions.
No wine because it’s too early for that (I shrink in my seat).
Is the dish on the menu prepared the traditional way?
Because the traditional way comes with cod and she doesn’t fancy cod.
Oh, it is?
It will be the menu del dia for her, she makes her choice, and they both order the beef with truffled Parmentier potatoes. He visibly relaxes, a soldier dismissed. I postulate, to the glass of wine I am enjoying too early in the day, that this woman played the long game. Perhaps the balance of power was different in mid-life but it’s firmly in her lap now.
Those Parmentier potatoes against a sludgy brown puddle of disintegrating onions with gristly ribbons of beef with that cheeky glass of red are comfort food at its best. Potatoes make life better. Truffles infinitely so.
By this point, the dining room has filled. I have volunteered to finish my dessert at the bar to give a walk-in couple my more comfortable table. (It’s nice to be nice.) I ask another server, this one who hasn’t been groped if the median age is similarly elevated at night. “Oh no,” he smiles, “these are just our locals who come for lunch, they love the menu del dia.” As do I, I am ready for my Catalan citizenship should anyone want to bestow it upon me. And I will take a well-appointed flat with encaustic floor tiles.
I have the insight to pay the 4€ surcharge to have the deconstructed Gilda Borràs style and I am happy with the menu del dia but on my other side is a young man in tracksuit bottoms with a backpack who is taking pictures with his Samsung. He has two oysters, a canelone and a paella for one. They all look exquisite. I want his lunch even though I am on the dessert part of my lunch. Later when I am seated at the bar, my gaze falls on a Jamón leg, Carquiñoles from Sant Quinti, and huge jars of home-cured Arbequina olives 11.11.21. Bodega Borràs is equally a place to enjoy a glass of wine and a selection of Catalan charcuterie or cheese. A thoughtfully edited selection of Catalan mains includes Capipota with tripe and four chickpeas.
There is one final thing I have to say about Bodega Borràs, the interior. I love the interior. A narrow entrance gives way to a big dining room. The lighting is just right, with puddles of light and pools of dark. The bar glows white while the red sofa banquettes greedily suck up light. Wine barrels decorate the far wall. Even the cross-over back straps of the blue aprons over starched white shirts work.
I will be back for dinner if only to see what the clientele is like at night and have my wine at the appropriate time.
Carrer De Casanova 85
More Catalan restaurants on the website:
Fonda Pepa (03.2021)
Quim de la Boqueria (01.2021)
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