It’s May, I am sitting in the aisle seat on the plane back to Barcelona. My laptop is open, updating my Top 5 Barcelona list in anticipation of the tourists that will pour back into the city come summer. I sense rather than see the man next to me straighten up and crane his neck over to my screen. I feel him looking a beat too long.
“Sorry but are you Foodie in Barcelona?” he asks. “I know your blog.” he continues
“You know where you should eat? Where is really good? And actually does the seasonal, market food that everyone claims to do? Taberna Noroeste. It’s really good.”
“How did you hear about this place again?” Rob asks me months later as we walk into Taberna Noroeste.
“The guy I sat next to on a plane recommended it,” I say as we sit down in the deep dark recesses of the restaurant across from the kitchen. The kitchen is flooded in blue-white light. The countertops are somehow bereft of food, yet plate after plate appears.
As Mert, my airline seatmate explained Taberna Noroeste does what a lot of restaurants say they do: a weekly changing menu, seasonal, local and so on. The difference he tells me is that they actually do it. It’s called Noroeste because the Head Chef Javier San Vicente is from the North, more specifically La Coruña known for its incredible seafood while David López is from the west, Salamanca. Both have cumulatively had more than 25 years of experience including in 3 Michelin starred restaurants. Thankfully they only brought their expertise and not the tablecloths nor the stuffiness to Noroeste.
We start with an Ensalada de Mariscos (18€) which is so good, it should be on a wall in a museum somewhere. The seafood is interspersed in an almost-not-there savoury pannacotta, there are tender fleshy bites of meaty tomato, orange spheres of salmon eggs. Things burst and spurt in my mouth revealing themselves in waves. It’s hallucinatory. The next week my friend is there and I shout at her to order this dish, only to hear that it’s already off the menu.
Next comes foie with anchovies and figs (8€). Three gorgeous things on their own but pushed up against each other in one dish- stunning. The Ceps (16€) are treated to smoke and heat on the small robata grill. With those three starters, I decide I love Taberna Noroeste. And then the suckling pig (Cochinillo D.O. 14.5€) arrives. A tight torchon, a deep shiny glaze more mushrooms. It is sublime.
There are other dishes we have that are simply good. The Bomba de Cocido (3.8€) for example or the Lechazo con Espinaca.
Interestingly I note that the restaurant is occupied by male patrons late twenties and onwards. I have a silly theory that men enjoy food (and life) more than women. For proof look at the ratio of women to men in a salad bar next time, you are in one. And consider this: no amount of chia seeds are going to save any of us in the end. Sometimes, the smartest thing to do is to tuck into a meltingly soft cochinillo and savour the moment.
For similar restaurants – look at my favourite Gastrorestaurants on my Top 5 Barcelona page.