I’ve been asking a few people what their impression of Casa Bonay is and the answer I tend to get is that “It’s confusing, a lot of things going on under one roof.”
Casa Bonay is a hotel, with an incredible lobby; a restaurant: Elephant, Crocodile, Monkey in which resides a ‘pop up’ concept TÊT – which seems to pop up for lunch only and serves Vietnamese food. They’ve convinced Mother, the hippest cold press juicers in town, to open an outpost within their hotel. There is a corner shop from baTabasTa. For coffee there is Satan’s, whom I always think of as the teenager of the Barcelona craft coffee movement, all attitude and low slung trousers.
I think Casa Bonay makes perfect sense, it’s a case study in branding through association. Which you probably learned to do on the playground: attach yourself to a kid with cachet and a little bit of magic dust will inevitably rub off on you. In New York, you have Stumptown in Ace Hotel for example.
It’s TÊT we try. A gorgeous space, dark nooks, glinting metal, mirrors, turquoise plates that make the bright Vietnamese food pop. I am fortunate enough to have spent a month eating my way through Vietnam and the flavours are impossible to replicate – the herbs alone have no parallel in Europe. We order a pho (9€), a crispy deep-fried roll (8.5€), grilled chicken thigh on rice (12.5€) and because it is so incongruent on the menu- two slices of house made bread with seaweed butter. Everything comes adorned with copious amounts of verdant herbs and butter lettuce. It looks Vietnamese, is tasty enough but far removed from the real deal.
The space is unusual for Barcelona which generally tends to go for less subtle approaches. This restaurant is like a pair of handmade Italian shoes, with wonderful details that show themselves gradually. It’s an ash coloured cashmere sweater that you can wear for a decade without it dating.
For coffee we opt to walk through the lobby to Satan’s. The lobby is populated with people staring at their Macs. The men have taken their hipster beards into ZZ Top dimensions – which I guess means even cooler? The space shared by Satan’s and Mother is full of photo worthy young people, taking pictures of the Latte Art in their coffee instead.
The New York Times has already written about the place and its enticing co-owner Inés Miró-Sans. She told Salad for President that she has known that she wanted to open a hotel since she was 16. When I read that she spent time working in New York it becomes apparent to me why the place looks familiar – it’s got New York bones.
Gran Via de Les Corts Catalanes, 700