Sunday, 1 November 2009

Restaurant 7 Portes, Barcelona

One of Barcelona's oldest restaurants, Restaurant 7 Portes sits on a grand colonnade in the port-side district of Barceloneta. Being true to its name, this landmark of Catalan cuisine has retained its 7 original doors, sheltered by porticoes. It is listed and recommended in most travel guides and therefore often mistaken for a tourist trap. I cannot give a fair review of the atmosphere, as our appetites on this 2-day visit were set to UK time, and had us eating mid-morning and mid-afternoon in largely empty spaces, but no matter - the classics were sublime.

The space is split into 4 high-ceilinged rooms, all highly polished dark wood furnishings and crisp white linen. Cosseted in the smaller smoking rooms were tables of merry Catalonians having a long lunch, but we were guided to the main room where they herd all the tourists, it seems. We were even given menus that were translated into 7 languages. Trying not to feel ostracized and patronized, we headed straight for the Spanish classics: gazpacho, and paella.

I have tasted many a gazpacho in my time, even attempting it myself with British summer produce, but nothing came close to this. Please, please, take anyone with an aversion to cold soup here, and they'll be converted. It tasted so green, sweet, and fresh I had a bit of a turn, gasping, wide-eyed in my appreciation at every silver spoonful.

The paella was similarly tremendous, although I'll refrain from awarding it the 'best ever' title until I've tasted the real deal in Valencia. Perfectly seasoned, one paella was more than enough for us to share, and we got off lightly with a bill for less than 40 euros.

If you tire of tapas queues, bar seating, fried plates, and frantic atmospheres, 7 Portes will calm your senses and delight your palate.

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