Saturday, May 4, 2013

La Pepita

Our Barcelona eating decisions couldn't have been easier. We barely had to look for any restuarants ourselves as so many people gave us recommendations. My friend Abi who I used to work for at the 3 Punts art gallery, is a real foodie so I was reallly pleased when she gave me a long list of places to eat and drink in the uber chilled out and slightly-lesser-visited-by-annoying-tourists area of Gracia.

We chose La Pepita from her list but didn't know quite what to expect as all she had told us was that we could get our hands on tapas and gin & tonic. As I love both of these things we thought we couldn't go wrong, but we weren't expecting such a beautiful little restaurant with one of the best menus we had clapped eyes on all holiday. La Pepita offers a selection of less traditional tapas to be eaten as starters, followed by main courses of the restaurant's signature dish and namesake 'pepitas'. We were told that pepitas consist of two very thinly sliced pieces of toast with a filling of your choice sandwiched in between. A posh toastie then? Fantastic.

As I said before the restaurant really is beautiful - you can't beat a string of fairy lights at the door in my opinion and inside the restaurant is traditional Catalan with splashes of modern, including graffiti on the wall from customers proclaiming their love for the place. Don't blame them - I loved the place too and would have scrawled it on the wall myself given the chance.

I must also mention our waiter was fantastic and provided us with by far the best service we experienced in Barcelona - he was very confident and assertive, made us feel like all the choices we made were the best in the world (saying things like "Oh yeah!" after every item we ordered) and also spoke excellent English with Bailey but was more than happy to humour me by speaking to me in Spanish. He made us feel very special!

We started off with two items from the tapas menu. Aubergine Fritters were delicious, piping hot croquettes that were creamy and soft in the middle but crunchy yet not too oily on the outside. They were topped with a blue cheese cream and thin matchsticks of apple. This was a harmonious yet exciting combination of flavours.

Seabass Ceviche was served with strawberries, basil, toasted pine nuts and balsamic vinegar and was a pretty plate of food for sure. We weren't sure if we would like this but once again the chef pulled it all off beautifully and the seabass was perfect. I should also point out both of our tapas dishes were of a decent size.

So after this our pepita posh toasties were delivered to us by superwaiter and oh emmm geeeee were these good. Not only were these some of the best things we ate all holiday, but Bailey said his was one of the best things he has eaten EVER! The toast was inexplicably thin and soaked up all the flavours of their fillings yet miraculously never went too soggy.

I went for Tuna with Avocado - thin slices of tuna steak served slightly pink in the middle in the pepita sandwich which was then topped with a couple of slices of daikon and black sesame seeds (More Barcelona Japanese influence?) and accompanied by a very generous stripe of perfectly smooth and creamy avocado. Amazing.

Bailey's Beef and Potato Pepita with Manchego was brilliant. The beef was very thin and tender, just cooked medium rare. The mash was chivey, buttery and smooth and the cheese, although perhaps a bit unnecessary (he ordered this as an extra), was a very tasty addition.

As our holiday was now drawing to a close and we'd been eating out for close to a week, we were feeling a bit 'restauranted out' and couldn't face a dessert. Regret.

La Pepita really was a fantastic restaurant and we loved their unusual take on the traditional tapa. It made us think that almost any small portion of great food could be presented as a tapa and as long as you're having a good time with your mates and enjoying a beer it will be great.

We loved La Pepita almost as much as Tickets, something we weren't expecting from the initial "tapas and gin & tonic" description. This for us is now an instant recommendation for anyone we know who's going to Barcelona and we will certainly be returning ourselves one day and making sure we get a dessert down us this time.

A cool way to present the bill we thought!

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