|The Entrance to Senyor Parellada|
Having recently written a beginner's guide to Catalan cuisine my mouth was watering to go out and sample some of the deliciousness that I had learnt about. I asked various reliable sources about their favourite Catalan restaurants and there were a few names that came up again and again. Senyor Parellada was one of these.
On my daily jaunts around Barcelona I rarely fail to pass this restaurant. Its location in the centre of the El Born district and its exclusively classy doorway led me to presume that it was one to add to the 'The Day I Win the Lottery' list. So, you can imagine my excitement to discover that the menu is decidedly affordable - mains starting at €9.00 with most costing around €17.00.
In this review I have commented on the food, décor and service at Senyor Parellada Restaurant.
For starter myself and my friend shared a plate of deep fried calamari with Romesco sauce. The calamari was reasonably fresh and the batter was light, if slightly soggy. The highlight of the dish was the Romesco sauce - tangy and with the strong taste of red peppers that is often lacking in a sauce that I had nearly written off as bland. At a mere €7.50 this typically Barcelona dish was streaks ahead of what I have come to expect.
Other starter options included local anchovies served with 'pan con tomate' (tomato rubbed bread) and a house salad.
|Lamb cooked with 12 Heads of Garlic|
For main course I opted for the 'Lamb cooked with 12 Heads of Garlic' - on a mission to try the most Catalan of Catalan dishes I was reliably informed by the waiter that this was the choice for me. What arrived was an impressively generous portion of shoulder of lamb - pink and tender on the inside, caramelised and chewy on the outside and with a punchy flavour. My friend suggested that the restaurant had maybe taken the garlic theme too far - garlic roasted lamb, served with a baked bulb of garlic and a potato smothered in alioli, but I chose to think of it as an old-fashioned recipe that we modern-day garlic fearers aren't used to experiencing.
|Stew of Bacalao (Salt Cod) and Pigs Trotters|
My friend chose a stew of bacalao (salt cod) and pigs trotters. This was the low point of the meal - a milky sauce gave no hint of having been cooked with the trotters. And the trotters themselves were pure fat, with literally no meat to be found. Due to the high standard of the rest of the food I decided to put this down to my friend's impressive track record for always picking the dud choice on the menu.
Other main course choices included duck baked with figs, paella and a Catalan stew served in its pot.
When it came to time to choose dessert I was overwhelmed with the size of the dessert menu - I would have preferred half the amount of options - and asked the waitress for help. She told me that the Semifreddo de Canyella was a Catalan option. This was somewhere between a frozen mousse and an ice cream, served with a crema catalana and chocolate sauce. Despite the dessert's slightly unattractive appearance, it was very tasty and definitely large enough for two.
|The Interior of Senyor Parellada|
Senyor Parellada's décor is really its showstopper. A traditional style wooden and glass doorway provides a small window into a grand yet cosy interior with black and white chequered flooring, long park-bench style seating running through its centre and warm orange lighting. There are formal white tablecloths and a romantic lighting is cast over each group of diners by individual lampshades separating the tables.
This is the type of restaurant where you will not feel overdressed in a suit or skirt and heels, whilst the busy hustle bustle allows an informal and friendly atmosphere - I visited on a Monday night and every table in the two-storey restaurant was full.
Both the upstairs and downstairs seating have their charms. The downstairs dining room has high ceilings and interesting lighting, whilst the upstairs is cosy and offers a mezzanine style balcony, to look down on the diners below.
Senyor Parellada's size suggests that service might be a problem. However, this is not the case. We were served promptly and efficiently. Even more impressively in a busy restaurant - both the waiter and waitress serving our table were friendly and warm. They had time to joke with us and answer our endless questions about the menu. A coffee ordered at the end of the meal was forgotten and we struggled to find any one to get it for us - but our general sense of good feeling towards the restaurant allowed us to forgive this.
Senyor Parellada passed the ultimate test of a restaurant review - I will definitely go there again. The food was generous and impressive, if, at times, slightly off the mark. The décor was inviting and gave a sense of occasion to the evening. The service was friendly and animated. Any minor flaws in the standard of the food were quickly forgotten when the bill arrived. An all-round winner that will please visiting grandparents and large groups of friends alike.
Senyor Parellada is located on one of the main streets in the El Born area. The street leads down from Via Laietana and is always a hive of activity.
Metro: Jaume 1 (Yellow Line, L4)
Starters: €6.00 - €10.00
Mains: €10.00 - €24.00
Desserts: €4.00 - €5.60
Three course dinner for two with a bottle of wine: €53.60
There is a surcharge for bread and olives of €1.20 per person. These will be on your table when you arrive, along with a bottle of red wine costing €12.00. If you don't want to be charged for them, you will need to exercise some major self-control, and leave them alone until your waiter takes them away.
Carrer Argenteria, 37
08003 Barcelona, España.
Tel: +34 93 310 5094
Booking is definitely recommended if you wish to ensure a table at the restaurant - it is busy every night of the week.