One imagines that the beaches around Barcelona are full of Xiringuitos like Miramar. This one imagined it at least it. Not so. Places like Miramar are rare. That’s not to say that there aren’t beach front restaurants, there are. But they are usually fronted by a big name chef who has a group, to which the restaurant belongs. To these, you can add the independents, who are serving calamari that they tip into the fryer straight out of a freezer bag. To find a place like Miramar, you have to search. To find Miramar specifically, you have to know.
To get to it, you drive past Sitges, past the town of Vilanova and then through an uninhabited bit, to a large parking lot close to the train tracks. There you leave your car, walk under the train tracks through a small tunnel that smells of urine and is covered in graffiti which gives way to Sant Gervasi beach. 250 meters long, car-free, with a string of street lamps that look like they still run on gas – it feels like a find.
The menu is priced in the realm of what you would expect to pay if you were eating at the beach restaurant of the W hotel. Even the starters hover just under the 20€ mark. But what starters! Sea snails with garlic mayonnaise, Cantabrian anchovies, Galician clams. Most of their seafood comes from Galicia. Although they start us off with a dish on the house. “Mosquitos” he calls them, fished locally and to be eaten whole, crunchy heads and legs included, the body has been shelled and offered little by way of meat.
My girlfriends and I are tempted by the specials that day. A tuna tataki so deep red in hue it almost seems brown. And since we visit during mushroom season, we have the saute of wild mushrooms, braised octopus and misshapen lumps of potato.
There are a few rice dishes. Of course, there are. Minimum of 2 people at 20€ a person. Two of us order the rice, the other two grilled fish with vegetables. The mains are good but nowhere near as surprising and delightful as our starters.By this point, a group of raucous Catalan men have been seated at the long table at the back. They all shout out their stories at once, seemingly indifferent that as everyone is talking at the same time, there is a shortage of listeners. No matter. They carry on. It all adds to the vibe that we, a table of 4 women with only one local (who has been coming here since she was a child), have stumbled on some local secret.