This week I had lunch at Bar Xose, a few streets away from Sant Antoni Market. I’ve been here a few times before and it’s always good! The name Xose is Galician for José (Joseph) and serves Galician food – you can expect to find dishes like Pulpo con Cachelos (octopus with boiled potatoes) here, but probably not on the cheap lunchtime menú.
I knew I was having lunch here as soon as I saw the Menú del Día board outside – I fancied several options!
There’s probably room for about 16 to 20 people sitting at tables inside with a similar number outside. It was colder today, so I wore a jacket, but it was still warm enough to eat al fresco.
I ordered a Vermut de la Casa while I made up my mind. I was slightly distracted by a 50 something couple outside smoking. He was obviously a business man, wearing a tailored black suit, while she had long blonde hair and ripped jeans, not quite Courtney Love, but definitely someone from a rock group. Evidently this was a fairly new romance, as they were all over each other! For a second I felt like Pepe Carvalho working for a cheap divorce lawyer, so I was very glad when my waitress arrived with the menú!
The food looked very good today – I was spoiled for choice
…and pampered, the bread arrived with two complementary Buñelos de Cerdo. Bunyols (Catalan) are fried dough balls, popular around the Mediterranean for thousands of years, as mentioned in De Agri Cultura by the Roman writer Cato the Elder in the second century BC. Buñelos are closely related to doughnuts and beignets – they can be served as something sweet with honey, sugar and fruit or savoury, stuffed with bacalao, cheese, or meat. The above contained pork sausage meat and tasted like fluffy sausage rolls.
For my first course I ordered Arroz Caldoso Mar y Montaña (Arròs Caldós Mar i Muntanya), a soupy rice containing surf and turf. The Mar i Muntanya (sea and mountain) mixture of meat and fish is very popular in Catalan cuisine. This was delicious – I think the stock was made of fish and it contained clams, mussels, chicken and sausage, among other things.
I chose the usual vino rosado – the above is Coto Elosegi. When they bring you a full bottle with a Menú del Día, it means that you can drink half a bottle per person.
My segundo plato was Merluza al la Plancha con Sanfaina – hake cooked on a griddle with samfaina, which is perhaps a Catalan equivalent to ratatouille. Hake is, quite rightly, a very popular fish in Spain, a considerable amount of which comes from waters around the north of Britain – sadly it’s not very popular in the UK.
I had flan de la casa for pudding (de la casa means home made and not bought in) and remembered to ask my attentive waitress to hold the cream! Squirty cream from a tube is very popular in Barcelona and is a “feature” with most desserts.
Of course, I had a carajillo de coñac for courage and a little lift to get me back to work in the afternoon.
This was another thoroughly good lunch at Bar Xose and the bill came to a whopping €17.40!