One of my all-time favourite Catalan tapas bars in Barcelona, Bar Cañete offers everything you could wish for: energy, exciting tapas dishes made with quality local produce and plenty of excellent wines. Just a quick stroll off Las Ramblas…
Tucked away on an unlikely backstreet in Raval, Bar Cañete’s gilded façade glows like homing beacon for foodies.
It’s refined and lavish, with a hint of old-world Spain. Plenty of locals. Plenty of expensive clothing on show. Plenty of happy eaters.
It’s the kind of place that gives me the feeling that I’m… somewhere. Somewhere I’m fortunate to be. Somewhere I’m supposed to be.
There are two very distinct dining areas: the long narrow bar overlooking the kitchen, where chefs jostle flaming pans and slice buttery slivers of jamón off the bone. And the more formal dining room, which is all dark wood, red leather, moody lighting and sultry jazz. I like the theatre of eating at the bar.
Restaurant manager Don Julio can be seen barking orders at white-coated waiters, who waltz like nimble Navy officers between debonaire diners.
As it says on the menu: “Fuck your diet”.
The focus is on classic Catalan dishes spruced up with creative pizzazz and poetic license. The chefs clearly aren’t afraid to play around with ingredients, but they never stray too far from the core of what makes Catalan food so great – a deep respect for seasonal produce.
Spanish staples are given new leases of life, such as potato croquettes enhanced with lobster and a few other “secret ingredients”, and wild tuna tartare with mascarpone and wild trout caviar.
It’s impressive cooking, it’s delicious and hearty cooking, but it’s not about reinventing the wheel. Instead it’s about showcasing the very best of Catalonia’s quality produce, whether it be fish, seafood, meat or vegetables.
Other must-eat dishes include big flavours like wild mushrooms with crispy Iberian pork jowls, Catalan ‘fricandó’ (meat stew), and seafood delights such as “shrimp that gets in at 8, fresh from the sea to the plate”.
The wine menu itself is a worth a visit, with a spectacular array of references from Spain’s finest DOs, and plenty to tempt from France.
The staff are knowledgable and confident. I definitely suggest letting them steer you. My waitress made three or four excellent suggestions to match each of my dishes and I enjoyed every mouthful.
In a Nutshell
The food’s excellent, the service is slick and upbeat. There’s a buzz in the air and plenty of exciting wines to discover. Go at lunch time and make the most of the bargain (€16) three-course menú del día (set menu). It’s close to Las Ramblas too, so you can walk there easily from the city centre. You really can’t go wrong.
Address: Carrer de la Unió, 17, 08001 (Raval)
Nearest Metro: Liceu (Green Line)