On Sunday we went to La Platilleria for lunch. It is a small corner bar, towards the top of Poble-sec, an area which is fast becoming a new foodie destination in Barcelona. Oli had been here before and was raving about the platilleria – little plates of food.
La Platillera is run by an Argentinian couple – the very charming Mariela Di Stefano, front of house and chef Fernando Silva, who’s previously worked for top Catalan (Michelin stared) chef, Jordi Cruz, so I was expecting some very good little dishes!
I would describe La Platilleria as a tapas bar – somewhere that serves small portions or rations of food. Tapas come from the South of Spain – originally they were little snacks given away free when one bought a drink. The story goes, that they started off as pieces of dry bread (covers) to keep the flies out of your glass of wine or sherry. As time passed, bar owners elaborated on the tapa, probably leaning towards salty ingredients that encouraged customers to order more drinks. In Andalucia this tradition of tapas continues and one can almost eat for free, but at the cost of a resaca (hangover). Internationally tapas bars have become very popular as somewhere one pays to eat a series of tapas as lunch or dinner, so in spite of the fact that Cataluña does not have a tradition of serving tapas, the tapas bar has become part of Barcelona food culture over the past 30 years.
The menu here is simple and I applaud it – doing a few things well, is far better than trying to do a lot of things to a mediocre level. The menu is written on two little blackboards (above) and all the wine and beer is displayed on the bar with a little price label around the top of the bottle. Mariela takes the orders and serves the drinks, while Fernando is hard at work (solo) in the small kitchen behind the bar – we could see him painstakingly preparing all the dishes.
On arriving, Mariela presented us with mixed savoury nuts
and I chose some oliva picantona (olives marinaded in hot pimentón) while we perused the menu. I realised afterwards that they have their own vermut, which I should have been drinking as an aperitif – doh!
Pa amb tomàquet (or pan con tomate) is a Catalan invention – fresh or toasted bread, rubbed with garlic and then the inside of a tomato is squeezed on top. This is drizzled with olive oil along with a pinch of salt.
Cooking quail or partridge in a vinegary sauce (escabeche) is an old fashioned method of preservation – brought to Spain by the Moors. Fish or meat cooked in this way can be sealed in a jar and kept for weeks in a cool place – the dish improves with age too!
Patatas bravas are a staple served in most Spanish bars. Here the chunks of fried potato come with a salsa brava (hot tomato sauce), mayonnaise, thin slices of green pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. I’ve noticed (since I lived in Barcelona during the 90s) that mayonnaise is now added to the dish. I don’t know if this is an idea that comes from Dutch potato fries with mayo or if it has originated in Spain…
Mandonguillas (Catalan) or albondigas (meatballs) – yet another classic Spanish dish done to perfection here and served with broccoli.
Crème brûlée is the one pudding I can’t resist – especially not here, where it is served with raspberries on top.
When we’d finished and paid, Mariela took a bottle of Naranja out of the fridge and poured us both a glass. This is an astonishing dessert wine, made with Pedro Ximénez and Zalema grapes, plus sun dried orange peel. It is somewhat like a bitter sweet orange sherry.
Expect to pay about €30 per person for food. Most of the wine seems to be about €18 per bottle and beer is around €2.50. I recommend sitting at the bar, where the very attentive Mariela will charm you while you wait for your next plate. It was fascinating to watch chef Fernando Silva hard at work producing all these little food marvels.