Barcelona: Cal Pep

March 16th, 2011

Tapas bar, Cal Pep has been on Barcelona’s must visit lists for so long that I almost skipped it just because it’s so over-exposed. Except that it was clearly on the list for a reason. I wasn’t going to skip it just to be contrary.
The crowded line of people waiting for one of the prized seats at the counter Was enough to scare us off one night, but after our lovely lunch at Quimet i Quimet, I was very excited to keep trying the more amazing options in town.
The line, it turned out, wasn’t so big a deal. We walked in to find half a dozen people ahead of us and we were seating within 15 minutes. We passed the time with some house wine and watching the show behind the counter as the chef chatted with customers and the staff presented new dishes to each party.
When we sat down, we were asked what sort of foods we liked and whether we had any particular restrictions. It seems the standard serving style is what the Japanese call omakase – chef’s choice. You’re in their hands and they bring up whatever is fresh and fits your preference. We went with it and enjoyed course after course – plus one addition we couldn’t skip. See the blow by blow after the jump.

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We started with a bowl of tiny fried fish tossed with a soft boiled egg. The counterman broke the yolk in front of us and mixed it all together.
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That was followed by clams with bacon in broth, which I believe speaks for itself.
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The tuna tartar was simple and tasty.
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They broke up the various courses of seafood with a soft, eggy pancake. Firm on the outside, the center was rich and custardy.
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Next was chickpeas with squid. This would have been the end, but I noticed that some sausages sat behind the counter looking all sorts of delicious. I couldn’t just leave it there.
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They served the sweet pork sausage sliced with a port reduction sauce drizzled over it and a bed of baked beans underneath.
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That taste of port wasn’t enough, so I had a glass of the sweet stuff to close out the meal.
Cal Pep, PLAÇA OLLES, 8, Barcelona, Spain – 933 107 961

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