Cervesaria Catalana – Barcelona

Hungry and happy after cheering on FC Barcelona’s 5-0 trouncing of RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou, we were in dire need of seriously good tapas…on a Sunday. Sounds like a simple request, but this is harder than one might think, mostly because of the day of the week. The biggest tip I can give you when visiting Barcelona – avoid Sunday and Monday! It’s almost a dead zone for good food – save a couple of my top recommendations – for fine dining, ABaC, and for slightly more relaxed yet sophisticated food, Roca Bar @ Hotel Omm. You can read more about why Barca is an almost dead zone eating wise for two whole days in my review of Roca Bar here.

After some half-time Googling and cross checking of who is actually open during these dead days, we decide upon Cervesaria Catalana. Hundreds of great reviews, popular with the locals apparently and you need to queue. Usually a good sign right?

We arrive to and see the queueing is definitely real – a packed bar area also holds a long queue just to put your name down, and we do so on both the indoor and outdoor table waiting lists. (We picked this up thanks to a tip in an online review – who would have thought there was a secret outdoor only list? Halved our wait time.) You have to wait for your table within name calling distance, i.e. the crazy busy bar area. Good luck ordering a drink!

Around twenty minutes of trying to order said drink later, we are called for an outside spot. It’s a little more casual than inside, but armed with some decent heaters we are glad we didn’t wait an extra 30 minutes for an spot indoors. We had also read that the sangria was fantastic here, so our first order was a one litre jug of the good stuff. Strangely, it’s not listed on the drinks menu and we were frequently asked about it by other diners. Our recommendation however would be to go with the 500mL jug, it’s nice but a bit sweet to drink all night. You have to ask about wines available by the glass if that’s what you’re looking for too, as only larger serves are mentioned on the drinks list – it’s fair to say it’s not the world’s most thorough drink list. This lack of care here is something that kept popping up through the night.

What we ordered (prices in Euro):

MINI HAMBURGERS – sweetened onion, cheese – 3.1 ea
MINI HOT DOG – sweetened onion, cheese, bacon – 2.95 ea
CROISSANT WITH MOZZARELLA AND JAMON – daily special
GREEN SALAD – 5.5
CHICKEN WITH CURED HAM CROQUETTES – 1.5 ea
FRIED HOT GREEN PEPPERS – 4.9
PATATAS BRAVAS – 4.25
FRIED ARTICHOKES – 5.95

Our first bites arrived at lightening speed – the mini croissants, which had just been flattened by a sandwich press instead of heated under a grill, and the extremely greasy mini hamburgers and hotdogs. Given the reputation of the establishment we expected a little something special from these seemingly simple options. We were sadly disappointed. Run of the mill, takeaway shop style food is what we were served. The hamburgers were also pretty much rare, and the buns of both chewy and disappointing. These things are so easy to get right, how did they manage to screw these up?

Our croquettes aren’t much better, but definitely passable. The patatas bravas are equally standard. We’re starting to lose hope that Cervesa Catalana is going to be any different to any corner joint we could have chosen with much less fuss.

The salad doesn’t impress either – just a mish mash of plain lettuce, tomato, corn, olives, carrot and onion with some DIY olive oil and vinegar dressing on the side. Yawn. The green peppers complete our order as we eventually realise the artichokes aren’t coming – but at this point we’re glad to not have any more dishes coming judging by our meal so far. The peppers are plentiful that’s for sure – far too many to really enjoy in a sitting and while they are tasty with just enough heat and nice pops of salt, one can’t sit there munching on thirty tiny peppers all night long when those waiting for a table are staring you down.

After a meal dripping in greasy disappointment I was almost tempted to warn off curious diners adding their names to the ever growing queue, but trying to be charitable, I thought perhaps there are other parts of the menu that justify the high ratings. For what it’s worth, I hear the sardines are good. But if it were me, I’d take your money and head elsewhere, pronto – and for your sake, I hope it’s not a Sunday or Monday.

The Verdict:

Food: 5/10
Service: 6/10
Ambience: 6/10
Decor: 6/10
Value: 6/10
Overall Rating: 5.8/10
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