It started with sangria, a plucky polka dotted brand that people found accessible and fun. Then they opened a small restaurant, lined the shelves with their bottles and wrote out the menu on mirrors and tiles. Now, they’ve gone bigger. Significantly bigger. An enormous space over two floors, with one entrance on Ronda St Pere and the other on Trafalgar.
They’ve taken the calligraphy that worked so well in Casa Lolea and pushed it further. Classic C|R hand painted on the windows in gold. Almost sloppy red writing painted on the mirror behind the bar.
The space evolves as you walk through. From dark and moody at the front where you have a drink and pick at small plates- to an elegant bright restaurant at the back. A large room where you are likely to sit up a little straighter and remember to take your elbows off the table. There are older patrons in this section. No doubt rejoicing, clean large spaces such as Casa Rafols tend to be found up in Eixample or Sant Gervasi.
The distinctive space used to be a much-loved ferretería (hardware store) for over 100 years as well as hosting a clandestine restaurant during the war. It was snapped up by the Balcastro group who set out to preserve much of the antique details and pay homage to the complex history of the place.
My friend and I are delighted by the selection of tapas we are given to try. Large ham croquetas (1.9€ each) with a crispy textured coating of panko breadcrumbs on the outside. The white asparagus cojonudos (a specialty canned asparagus that is uncannily thick) with grilled vegetables and Romesco (7.5€). The menu is extensive, and as they are open all day, starts with breakfast. We try an Arroz caldoso (15.50€)- translated as soggy rice on their menu and it lives up to its translation.
We end with a selection of 4 mini desserts: rice pudding, fried cream (it’s a thing and it’s delicious), a cinnamon ice cream and apple pudding.
We both agree that our favourite things were the beginning and the end. And we love the diversity of the space debating whether it’s better to sit in the front or back but liking that we have a choice.