It’s inconceivable. I am here writing about the new Pastisseria Brunells opening in Barcelona. Who would have the courage to do that now? As we all step out into the sunlight, tender from refreshing our screens to reveal more and more anxiety-inducing headlines. It’s inconceivable that cafes still open their doors for their first time.
Brunells has been in the works for a while. On the site of the original shop bearing the same name. Old Brunells had thick slabs of chocolate wrapped in brown paper piled up in the window and fat yellow writing for the shop sign. A charming shop that I would go into wanting to buy something and then step out of empty-handed because I didn’t want a coca or a hard tuft of meringue. The old Brunells was dated. From a time when the Mini was mini and Michael Caine was behind the wheel in the The Italian Job.
The new Pastisseria Brunells is striking. I don’t think anyone could walk past it without stepping in. A joint project between Salvador Sans of Cafés El Magnífico coffee roasters, Lluis from Pastelería Canal and Joan from LKC lab.
I’m familiar with Pastelería Canal. They have a shop in the well-heeled part of town on Carrer Muntaner, across from my dentist. In the past, I would visit post-dental appointment (if possible), and order from the women in the stiff white coats and the sensible shoes. They dressed like my dental hygienist. A design suitable for its location mostly shiny surfaces – a lot of spotlights. but not exciting.
Back to the new Brunells, I was looking forward to the coffee part. I knew that if Salvador from Cafés El Magnífico was involved it was bound to be good. Though he is a roaster, I think Salvador has the uncompromising personality of an artist. He exists quite apart from trends. No barista has ever has worn a beanie hat in one of his shops ever. There is not a T-shirt to buy and no manifesto along with the coffee. If you want sugar you can have it and on one will suck air in audibly and disdainfully. You try his coffee once and you come back. He’s somehow slipped out of the shackles of should as well. The original El Magnifico on Argentería is open daily but Mag by El Magnífico is open weekends only. It probably should be open at least 5 days a week in the same way that I probably should do innumerable tasks and things but it isn’t. And that’s it.
Designed by Ekis Studio, Pastisseria Brunells has two styles. There is the pastry part, which has retained much of its original character but applied better lighting. The old floor has been polished to a sheen so glossy I find myself staring at it more than the glass-encased pastries. I want to wear fluffy socks and slide across this shiny floor. Orange packaging with a Modernist style font sits on the shelves, waiting to carry a pretty cake or two home for you.
The other side is a long bar, with turquoise tiles underneath. Above are large circular lights sitting beneath a chevron grid of widely spaced white beams. Turquoise stools sit stoutly in front of Turquise glass tables growing up and out from somewhere underneath the soft leather banquette. At the far end is the bakery with ancient ovens and a ceiling painted to resemble that of a circus tent.
And while I’ve happily sat on the cramped bench at the original El Magnífico shop, sitting here is incomparable.
Carrer Princesa 22
More Cafés El Magnífico:
The original Cafés El Magnífico
Coffee Guide Barcelona: Specialty Coffee
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