I went out looking for albóndigas (meatballs) today (having seen some on a menú yesterday) but there were none to be had …until I came across Panda and Smile. Menús diarios change daily – they want you back tomorrow, which keeps everything interesting! I often look to see if there are a few tables of older Catalans – they know where the food is good 😉
Panda and Smile is a small corner bar in Eixample, just above Ronda Sant Antoni.
I’d looked at quite a few menús and was about to give up when I found this bar. First option on the segundos (main courses), Arroz con Albóndigas …and I liked the options for the primeros too! The formula here costs €9.95 – doesn’t offer wine, but you do get a soft drink or you can have a beer for an additional €1. Frankly I wasn’t too bothered, a glass of wine is cheap and my mind was made up!
I ordered a vermut de la casa while I waited and Lenny (my waitress) brought me some posh water (my non alcoholic drink option) in a recyclable bottle. This reminded me that 30 years ago, one could buy water here in very large glass bottles (20 or 30 litres) which came in a basket with handles. You paid a deposit on the bottle and took it back to the bodega for a replacement when it ran out. Sadly they were phased out in the 90s and replaced by “disposable” plastic. I’m not pointing the finger at Barcelona here – this is a world problem – we all used recyclable containers years ago!
While my food was being prepared Lenny brought me some delicious olivas picantes.
I didn’t hesitate with my choice for first course – I ordered choricitos al vino, tiny chorizos cooked in wine. These were fantastic – hot and spicy. The sauce was per mullar pa (Catalan – good enough to wet bread) so I made sure to mop it all up!
At this point I was ready for wine and ordered a glass of vi rosat.
My mandonguilles (Catalan for meatballs) arrived on cue, smothered in a picante Arrabbiata style sauce with a little tower of rice as an accompaniment. Again, these were fabulous!
The Menú del Mediodía options here include ice cream or coffee – feeling a bit bloated from the bread I’d used on the choricito sauce, I preferred to order my usual carajillo de coñac.
When the bill arrived, I expected to pay for the vermut and wine, but was pleasantly surprised to see that the brandy in the coffee was included – the total came to €16.25. The food here was excellent, as was the service!
Panda and Smile is at: Carrer de la Diputació, 157, 080011, Barcelona.
I must say when I read the title of your post, Panda and a Smile, I thought you might be enjoying lunch in a Chinese restaurant. What a nice lunch, but then how can you go wrong with meatballs.
You know I remember when one could go to the local wine merchant here and refill your own bottles. But, not any longer. I do think these types of things should return. Every little bit helps. We do however pay a “pant” (deposit) on all plastic pop, water, and juice containers and all beer containers, but not wine bottles.
Thanks Ron – it is an odd name and there’s a Chinese called Panda nearby!
They still sell wine and vermut from the barrel in Spain. We go to a local bodega here and buy vermut in 1l recycled Vichy Catalan water bottles or a 2l plastic bottle which can be returned and used again. They are very keen to let us taste before buying and 2l of excellent vermut costs about €3.50!