Monday 30 July 2012

In search of Mano we found Manna, Barcelona

Can Mano was another tip-off, in the backstreets of the old fisherman's quarter Barceloneta, the young ones must live elsewhere. Family run and serving the freshest fish I'd been told, we came looking on a Sunday afternoon, it still felt early after a night spent listening to flamenco in a medieval palace filled with goblets of gin. Barceloneta's main drag lived up to it's name. Paseo Juan de Borbon was a seething mass of tourists, locals, pick pockets and staggering stags swarming about the hoards of dubious restaurants lining the route to the beach. Yet only one street in the neighbourhood appeared deserted.

Not a good sign and after thirty minutes of searching we came across another.

Can Mano doesn't open Sundays, I should have checked. Fortunately we'd just passed a place that looked rather appealing. In the way ultimately rewarding places often do, by being completely unappealing in almost every conventional sense. 

All the tables outside were taken, we had to squeeze past people to get through the door, inside it was mobbed, everybody we wanted to speak to ignored us and everyone else kept telling us off. 

Eventually we got our names on a list, a virtual one inside the waitress's head, and were told it could be an hour. Suddenly I spied someone leaving the bar and moved like lightening to secure the gap. Result. 

Well, not quite as it turned out. The boss said we still couldn't eat because there wasn't enough room for three. A reasonable point, if his bar hadn't already been hoaching with people utilising every available surface. 

We ordered drinks, Clara, a mix of lager and lemon Fanta. All I'm saying is don't knock it till you've tried it, especially after walking in blazing sun following a very late night. God it was good.

As we refreshed, in synchrony, our reception did too. We'd either passed the initiation or made it clear we weren't going anywhere fast. More space opened up, enough for us to get to order. The food was terrific, razor clams and cuttlefish croquettes stood out, the Pulpo Gallega, 'Galician style' octopus, served warm with lots of paprika on a bed of potato, was sensational. The prices were too.

Bar Jaj-Ca Tapes, Ginebra, 13, Barceloneta, +34 (0)933 195002

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