It’s tempting to believe that any establishment in an area frequented by tourists is, by definition, a tourist joint. Happily some restaurants disprove that theory – restaurants such as Gats.
Just metres away from the horrible tourist sangria and paella joints on Las Ramblas, Gats may as well be in a different country. That’s not to say tourists don’t go there (it is Barcelona, after all), but it appeals to locals as well.
And why not? The food, service, and ambience are all decent.
The menu includes a range of the expected tapas dishes, such as croquettas, Padrón peppers, and patatas bravas. It also extends to ceviches, some imaginative salads, rice dishes and mains.
When I last visited it was a wintry night that called for some warming comfort food, and the ‘mountain paella’ – with mushrooms, Catalan sausage and asparagus – answered the call. It’s a nicely rich rice dish (served in a hot iron pan), though I feel I remember having it before with rabbit or chicken pieces. I may be wrong about that, but they’d be a nice addition.
And because I spend altogether too much time in tapas bars, green vegetables, in the form of a green bean salad with smoked sardine and horseradish was a real winner. The little chunks of smokey, salty sardine are nicely balanced by the horseradish bite.
There may not be many surprises on the menu at Gats, but everything I’ve eaten here lives up to its promise, and hardly breaks the bank. It’s definitely on my return list.
Hotel Casa Elliot has undergone a renovation and name-change since my last stay, but there’s still plenty to recommend it.
The location is a gem – Sant Antoni is a little slice of Eixample wedged between the bustle of El Raval and Poble Sec, and is home to numerous bars and restaurants, as well as the renovated Sant Antoni Market.
While there aren’t a lot of areas in Barcelona that feel devoid of tourists, Sant Antoni retains a ‘local’ atmosphere that is really rather charming. You’re still only one Metro stop from the middle of Passage de Gracia.
The 38 rooms have mainly been tidied up a bit in the renovation, but that’s no bad thing. They’re compact, but functional enough, stylish, and feature decent-sized bathrooms. All have views either over the main street or the rear ‘courtyard’, and some even have small terraces. Nice
Of all Eixample’s streets, Rambla de Catalunya is one of my favorites. Partly this is because of the pedestrianized strip down the middle (and the relatively light traffic because of that). Partly it’s because unlike the fancier Passage de Gracia which runs parallel a block away, there are more local stores here too.
So Murmuri is in a a great location.
It is also a hotel that does design well, from the smart entrance and lobby bar to the glass cube lift, things look good. And there are only 53 rooms, so it never feels overwhelmingly large.
Rooms are comfortable too. The basic ones are fairly compact, but still livable.
But the real draw for me is the value – for this location and the smart design, Murmuri is stellar value.
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