Flax & Kale Passage is the latest entry from the Teresa Carles group.
I’m walking around the restaurant taking pictures when I am approached by a man with an earpiece.
“Do you have permission to take photographs here today?”
“Permission, er no…but I am a food blogger, so I take pictures and write about restaurants.”
“Yes, but we have a policy, to take pictures you must have permission from head office. I’m sorry if this sounds strange.” He is visibly uncomfortable at delivering the news. I want to pat him on the back and reassure him that I am not offended.
I am, however, amused. On many levels.
Firstly, it’s very un-Barcelona, this kind of fretting over permissions to Instagram and so on. The only other time I’ve had a manager speed march over to me and ask for my permit was at Soho House and there it’s more a matter of protecting their members from being photographed.
Second of all – Flax & Kale, the newest Flax & Kale Passage with a fermentation room, an open pizza kitchen and the smoothie bowls and such – well who else is going to come here besides the selfie social media brigade? Closely followed by the Orthorexians (“fixation on righteous eating” ) – acute and mild.
I sympathise with the plight of the a la mode restaurant grappling with the masses of punter paparazzis. But the fight against taking pictures in restaurants began in 2008 when David Chang decried a no camera policy at his Momofoku bar. And it was lost around 2013.
The manager is chatting with me while I consider all this. He amiably takes me across to the other half of the restaurant, where there is a huge galley kitchen. He explains how the passage we just crossed used to be a shopping street. And how there are plans to open a bar that sells directly to the street. Juices and such.
“We’ve only been open for two weeks.”
“And it looks like you are doing great.” I reassure him.
I return to my table. My daughter has ordered a chocolate cake in two textures that she wolfes down. I’ve ordered a paleo bread (7.5€). I expect it to be a dense Danish style number, more seeds and oats pressed together than actual bread. It’s 4 slices of a carrot or pumpkin loaf with a few pumpkin seeds floating through it, a knob of coconut butter with chives and a beetroot dressing. Next to me a couple is having a maki the size of a hot dog bun. Another person is having a bowl – maybe it’s the Acai.
“Is this the same menu like the other place.”
“No, this is a little more Asian. More sophisticated,” the manager tells me during the photo intervention.
“And do you make anything in the fermentation room beside Kombucha?”
“No, just kombucha.” He replies.
He gestures to the world map on the wall. “We try to bring in flavours from around the world.”
I read ‘hoppers, dosa, ragi’. It may be on the wall but it doesn’t make up a big part of the menu. The menu is a lot of gluten free bakes, a lot of bowls, vegetables, dishes that sound like they should have eggs but are made without them, vegan cheese and pizzas (plant-based).
It boils down to this. If you like the other Flax & Kales, you will like this one even more.
Above all, I appreciate the conversation Flax & Kale is starting: to move away from eating animals towards a more sustainable and overall healthy plant-based diet. Its good looks and (I hate to say it) Instagramability mean optimum trickle down to the masses. People who might not be aware of planet health, personal health, gut health & so on but will eat there because it’s in.
Barcelona has changed a lot in the last few years to become a place where knowledgeable producers provide exceptional foods. Slow-fermented bread from Yellow Bakery, anything fermented from Ferment 9, traditionally cured meats from Roof Top Smokehouse Charcuterie for example. Flax & Kale is the obvious big beacon in Barcelona for this, it’s a good place to start, but if you want to learn more, go to the artisans.
Flax & Kale Passage
C/ de Sant Pere Mes Alt 31-33
08003 Sant Pere
The original Flax & Kale El Raval