BBQ restaurants haven’t fared well here in my experience. On at least two occasions I’ve had to bin unpublished reviews after the restaurants have been shuttered shortly after my visit. Burger restaurants do well and pulled pork sandwiches abound but Barcelona doesn’t seem to get BBQ.
Fat Barbies approaches the subject from a different angle. First, there is the space, Maria quoined it “lodge cabin chic”. You walk in past a stack of logs, hinting at what is to come. The space is spread over two floors and with a good chunk of real estate given over to an elevator, stairwell, and balcony. There is something of an Escher print about it. The ground floor is flooded with bright light while the second floor is dark to the point that you can’t read the menu. The light that exists picks up the different coloured content of the pickles that line one of the walls.
The second floor is where the kitchen is. It has quite a bit of equipment I don’t recognize. Black metal cupboards and boxes where smoke is transferred to the meat. Smoke is key at Fat Barbies more so than bbq sauces. And without the abundance of sticky sweet sauce to disguise the meat, the provenance and quality become the focus. Fat Barbies works with Cal Tomàs, a family business that provides them with organic meats.
Maybe it’s the name that throws me. “Fat Barbies” I assume the owners are American and am surprised when the food doesn’t seem consistently American. The owners are two brothers: Aquiles Martini and Juan Martini – with Juan responsible for the food and drinks – and a friend Alex Demendoza. They are inspired by some American BBQ but equally, they love a good Mole or Provoleta. What they are trying to capture is the smoke. Not only in their meat dishes but also in their vegetable dishes and even in their dessert – like the homemade marshmallow in the smores finale.