Nookie was working in Poblenou today and I had a meeting there in the afternoon, so it seemed like a good idea to meet up for lunch. I reminded Oli that we’d had a good paella in Poblenou a couple of years ago and he found an article on Vell Poblenou which stated that Thursday is paella day on the menú del dia – we were in luck!
Vell Poblenou is an unassuming local restaurant, with tables outside in a quiet, pedestrianised street. It’s owned by chef José Luis Sánchez and his son runs the bar, while his daughter looks after the diners (a true family affair). You will see from the menú del dia (above) that it does a very well priced 3 course lunch, with wine or beer for €9.75.
On arrival, we were presented with olives and pickled cauliflower as a little addition to the menú – on the house, is always a welcome touch.
We were early, so ordered some rosado, while we perused the menú and waited for Debbie and Nookie.
Three of us ordered arrós a la paella (rice like paella). It’s worth noting here that the cooking style and ingredients in a paella are quite specific. This can cause a lot of argument (see the heated comments here), so dishes that are not to strict specifications are regarded as a type of rice and not a paella. Purists will tell you it must be the correct rice, ingredients, socorrat, pan, wood fire and definitely no chorizo! The rice here was very good indeed. Oli found this El Pais article on English celebrity chefs mucking up paella and other Spanish foods – it’s quite entertaining.
Nookie had a salad of tomáquet i formatge feta a la Provençal (Provençal style tomato and feta),
but she showed us all how to suck the brains from the head of a prawn – Anthony Bourdain would approve!
Oli and I had churrasco amb patates i ximixurri (churrasco with potatoes and chimichurri sauce) as our main courses. Churrasco generally means grilled meat, here, short cut beef ribs, with a mix of meat and fat giving them great flavour. We were offered a choice of potatoes and the chimichurri (on the side) is an Argentinian sauce of parsley, garlic, olive oil, oregano, chilli and red wine vinegar – the name itself is probably from the Basque word tximitxurri, meaning a mixture of things. I believe Nookie had the seitò fresc fregit (fresh anchovies, deep fried) – the picture escaped my camera’s attention, along with Debbie’s salmon…
I believe all or most of us had the above cake for pudding – it had a soft sponge base with a thin layer of egg custard, topped with dried fruit and nuts in gelatine. I’m not a pudding person, but this was excellent!
Finally, we had carajillos to keep us going through the afternoon!
We’d had 3 bottles of wine and a bottle of cava, so expected to pay a bit more on top of the €9.75 price of the set menu, however, when the bill came we ended up paying about €12 each. Astonishing and definitely a restaurant to visit again! Our waitress was exceptionally friendly and we were very well looked after. It’s also worth mentioning that Vell Poblenou is just off the bottom of the Rambla de Poblenou and less than 5 minutes from the sea.