Oriol Balaguer is as close to pastry royalty as we have in these parts. He and his wife, Marta Ramas, have 6 pastry boutiques in Barcelona. Shops where detailed cakes are lined up like soldiers in thick glassed vitrines.
Quatre Coses is a new concept for them. A restaurant principally but also a place to buy bread or a piece of cake or one where you can have a drink at the bar with a plate of ensalada rusa.
“Is that why the place is called 4 things? Because you can do 4 things here? Bar, bread, restaurant, cake?”
“No.” The young server smiled at me “It’s because when the owners were trying to decide what to eat, they would say, let’s go have 3 or 4 things.”
It feels odd to summon the staff from behind the bar but we do to place our order. The menu is a Catalan greatest hits. Starting off with “El Producte” a list of things, cheeses to Sobrassada Pedro Villanoga plonked elegantly on a plate and served. A fried section of croquetes, bravas and what we order bunyols de bacallà with honey mayonnaise (8.9€). Next, comes a listing of Cassola stews in an individual casserole pot. From here we order artichokes with ham and poached egg (12.5€) and botifarra sausage with potatoes and mushrooms (9.5€).
Of course cap i pota is there, this is Catalan comfort food, served with a little twist, the bulbous mat casseroles that the stews come in. Since this is Oriol Balaguer, a basked of bread is a must, particularly to mop up the unctuous juices of the stews. And at 2€ for a huge basket, it’s a steal.
After all that rich food and since I eyed all those delicate rectangles of cake upon walking in, I have to have two. I do a double take at the price 7.5€. Perhaps it will have to be one then. I pick the one with artisan marshmallows perched on top married with passion fruit and basil. Yes. Worth the 7.5€, to the point that I order the symphony of chocolate or maybe it was the 5 textures of chocolate – anyway the chocolate one, to go. At home, it is devoured without me even getting a lick. Balaguer is pastry King after all.
The restaurant is good too, albeit the little-bit-of-everything concept is a little like a table with one leg ever so slightly shorter than the rest, mildly irksome but you forget about it once the food comes.