A friend of mine (a chef) took me out to one of her favourite locals the other day: Norte. I had read about Norte but somehow what I remembered about them was that they do breakfast and that some on Tripadvisor had been disappointed with the price / portion size ratio.
They do serve breakfast. Making them a rare animal in Barcelona because they are opened all day long Monday to Friday (but closed on the weekends). We were there for lunch however. Served in a crisp white room with pulsing accents of color from the light fittings and a large Norte sign made up of individual lightbulbs (reminded me a bit of my logo – never a bad thing to set your name out in lights.)
As my friend is a regular, I asked her to order for me. She obliged: tomato salad with pistachios (7.9), deep-fried lamb brains with ponzu dipping sauce (5.9), kokotxas cod throat with green sauce (8.9), smoked sardines on toast (4.5 each).
“They get a lot of flak for their prices sometimes but they are shopping at the same markets as me! (Concepció and Caterina). You are getting top ingredients over here and they know what to do with them.”
She doesn’t need to convince me. The sardines are the length of my hand, smoky, tender on crispy bread singed black in places adding more smoke. The brains – I never order brains because I am particular about their preparation – are creamy and light. The tomato salad is a revelation – it’s rare to meet a salad in Barcelona that doesn’t rely on bulking up in some offensive form (iceberg) or feature pale Dutch imported tomatoes. I could have easily ordered more but I am experimenting with being less greedy and truth be told, there were only another 5 things to choose from on the menu. And I love that, you wouldn’t wear all your jewelery out at once so why do restaurants feel compelled to inundate their menu pages with so-so things just to make it big?
Under the listing of “cheeses of the day” preguntale a Maria is typed in parenthesis. Typed because Maria is always here, its her place and she knows.
Dessert. A cortado and I am told to order a Canutillo relleno de crema pastelera (1.5 each). They come, thin as my finger, crunchy, moreish – I wonder what the most anyone has ever ordered are? I could easily put away 5 and I am not big on desserts.
Tripadvisor is a great tool for visitors. Especially in Barcelona where there are so many places that will never have anything written about them and rely on local attention. But ultimately – the collective can generate an overall hazy image but they can’t put their finger on it.
See this and more addresses on my Foodie in Barcelona Map