Casa de Tapes is another restaurant I enjoy from the Iglesias Group (the other being Espai Kru). A corner restaurant with its floor to ceiling windows wrapped in comic illustrations of people enjoying themselves, each one sporting a red nose indicative of far gone inebriation. You go inside to find life imitating art. There they are, drinks in hand, chattering animatedly.
Which makes me remark to my friend. “No one eats quietly here. There is always conversation. In London either I didn’t see people over a certain age (50?) eating out as couples or if I did – they ate in silence.”
The menu is in the same style as the foils on the windows, with a cast of edible characters – a purple octopus named pulpo and so on. If there is a narrative, I can’t follow it and I leave it to Rob to sort out our lunch.
One particular quirk of the Iglesias Group is the advertising. It pops up in the oddest of places, car logos in the menu, posters on the wall and a flat screen TV (thankfully muted) that advertises small businesses like wedding photographers. One has to wonder whether the revenue they bring is worth the visual dissonance they create. Or you can take it as a quirk and leave it that – now that I am used to this, I find it endearing.
We have croquettas – which are ordered by the unit (€1.7) – one of cod and another of ham, the size of an egg and with a soft filling. Pan con tomate (€1.7 pp) which is served as a tomato and clove of garlic with a couple of crispy wedges of bread “Do you know how to do it or you want I do it for you?” the waiter enquires. There are beautiful vinegared boquerones (€2 pp). We have the burrata with rocket and peeled tomato (€9.4): the olive oil on the white cheese is so yellow and thick that as the plate comes up to us, I think I am looking at a fried egg. Another waitress appears and tears the whole thing up with a fork and a spoon, leaving it a tousled mess. Delicious though. A simple escalivada (€5). A box of fried fish (€16.7) made extra special by the miniature branded crate that has been created especially for this purpose. And beef cheeks (€11.7), in a sauce so rich, it starts to set hard even at the balmy temperature of 22 C.
I have an Estrella (€1.7), Rob has red wine (€3.3 a glass). There are swells and lulls in the conversations around us. Tables of families, others of friends and a few business people. The agreeable commotion of the place makes me think of a late summer day at the beach – where you are enveloped by the general enjoyment of a crowd you don’t know.
The most frequent question that is emailed to me is: “Where can I go for Tapas? Something authentic?” The answer is – a place like this one. A great candidate for learning the art of sobremesa or the (apparent) art of fixing your own pan con tomate.