As you may have seen from my Twitter & Instagram, we recently went to Barcelona for a long weekend. After one not very successful dinner, one very special dinner (blog post coming soon!) and lots of pinxtos and gelato inbetween, we fancied more of a traditional meal. On our second to last night we headed over to Passeig de Gracia, in search of just that. Our first stop was the Mandarin Oriental for a drink at their rooftop bar, Terrat.
A few doors down from the MO is El Nacional. This is a slightly different concept, where in one very large restaurant there are 4 seperate dining areas, each offering a different culinary experience. Along the center of the 4 areas there is also an oyster bar, cocktail bar, a beer & preserves bar and a wine & cured meats bar. If you can’t find something to eat in here then you’re in trouble!
Their website describes the 4 areas of the reatsurant as:
La Paradeta – ‘Deli restaurant with sandwiches, pastries and light meals among many other options’
La Taperia – ‘A variety of cold tapas, hot tapas, rice dishes, paella fideuá’
La Braseria – ‘A large selection of starters and meat, to have with salad or vegetable side dishes, and some basic fish dishes for those who prefer not to eat meat on that particular day’
La Llotja – ‘Specialising in griddled, baked, grilled and steamed fish’
After a browse round the whole place, we opted for La Llotja, the seafood area – who could resist this?:
We were given complimentary olives with lemon whilst perusing the menu
First up, we had some Catalan bread – not the best we had all trip but still nice
We both chose the same starter of fresh fennel salad, seasonal tomato & cottage cheese from Fonteta. This was really nice and light but surprisingly filling! It came with a lovely dressing, and the addition of apple & onion cut through the fennel so it wasn’t soo same-y
For my main I chose Gamba Roja Grande del Mediterraneo – when I ordered these our waiter didn’t think they had any left but luckily they did as I had really wanted to try some! At 36 euros for two prawns they weren’t cheap and I did think I would be left hungry, but they were HUGE and I needn’t have worried. I opted to have the prawns grilled, and they were really meaty. When I peeled them all the lovely juice came out of the heads which was so rich – I did end up in a bit of a mess though, thank goodness for all the wipes they gave me!
The husband opted for San Sebastian style wild croaker which we were told is similar to monkfish and although he had to sift through a few bones, he said the fish was well cooked and nicely flavoured with plenty of fresh garlic.
We chose sides of mixed vegetables, salad with shaved fennel & chips
With a big old plate of alioli for dipping!
El Nacional was a great option for dinner and just what we were looking for that night. The whole place was bustling with people – it’s obviously very popular and I can see why. We went early by Spanish terms – about 8pm – if you went later you might need to book in advance.
Link to their website is here