Finding a tapas bar that you don’t just want to visit occasionally, but rather frequent on a daily basis, is rare. Often places like these are considered a “treat” to experience, a unique location to either impress friends or that prepare a specific dish incredibly well. Bar Roure is both to me.
Located in the Gracia neighborhood of Barcelona, Bar Roure sits near a small forgotten park, on a street that claims 2 Korean restaurants(probably the only 2 in BCN), where a small angular street converge together in a random haphazard fashion. Having first visited approximately 4 years ago to meet a potential Catavino contributor, someone who never contributed beyond inspiring this post,Â I’ve since returned to this incredible treasure many times. Walls lined with tall windows, the exterior fails draw your attention as you walk by, but you must take the time to go in. If you happen by before 7pm, you’ll most likely find a table, though it quickly fills; and despite the smokey interior, the high ceilings keep air circulating below, while the rich aromas of their tapas linger beneath the smoke cloud above.
A few weeks ago, when Chef Mark of the Culinary Media Network was in town for Alimentaria, we swung by Bar Roure in need of good solid food without pretense before heading back to Terrassa for the evening. It was perfect!
This is a place for 2 tasty treats, one of which is vermouth. Vermut, here in Catalunya, is one of the greatest liquids to share over a plate of Patatas Bravas, or other assorted pinchos, which brings us to the second treat: Tapas. Bar Roure will entice the most fanatical tapas hunter to explore all there is to offer in Barcelona’s culinary repertoire. But first the vermut.
When you sit down at a table, ask for the following, “Dos vermuts con siphon, por favor”. “Two vermouths with soda water”, but not just any soda water, rather one served in the old style glass seltzer bottles with the nozzle that you might see sprayed in old Laurel and Hardy flicks. What you get is a small glass partially filled with dark herbal, bitter nectar, a couple of cubes of ice, and a slice of orange. First step, take a sip and relishÂ the intensity of the vermut, getting to know it before you continue. Next step is to give the glass a splash of seltzer. In this way you consume the drink ‘backwards’ as you slowly end up with a more and more diluted beverage. Counter intuitive, none the less it’s perfect, for as you are diluting the drink towards a more and more refreshing state, your tapas have arrived and are begging for a fresher beverage to wash down their various flavors.
So what to order? One of each? Seriously, for 2 people who find themselves quite hungry, I would aim for 6 or so dishes. Every dish is presented on small plates that allow for sharing, and a handful of toothpicks to spear the delicious morsels into your eager mouth. My favorites include: cured meats (always); patatas bravas, the slightly spicy sauced potatos; callos, which is cow tripe in a rich, thick sauce that will make your realize that your preconceived notions of offal were entirely unfounded; and caracoles, small snails served in a rich, delicious sauce that leaves you literally licking your fingers, as there is no way to eat them without getting your hands into the bowl, sauce and all. The day Mark and I visited Bar Roure, we tried boquerones (white anchovies marinated in vinager), bull negre (dark head cheese like sausage), mojama (cured tuna), and some rovellons (sauteed wild mushrooms). Though the menu is extensive, and the typical Pimentos de Padron, cheeses and various ‘salads’ are all recommended as well, all standards on any good tapas menu. Truth be told, I have yet to find something I’d rather not eat here.
Final note, and something to consider when ordering anywhere in Catalunya, no matter how many little plates you ask for, you will always find the waiter’s last question before he heads off to grab your meal is if you would also like, “Pa amb tomquet” or bread with tomato. It’s like the mandatory sprig of curly parsley served on any dish in an American diner, provingÂ the fat laden egg and bacon dish on the plate with it’s mandatory ‘balanced’ touch of “green”. If refused when offered, I’ve had waiters ask twice, as if weÂ committed a small crime against the culinary gods by opting out. That said, I do recommend getting it. It sops up the tasty juices left in your bowl of caracoles, and is typically some of the best bread you can find, with just a splash of pure olive oil and juicy tomato innards!
Bar Roure is the “tapas bar” that everyone speaks of, but few experience. It’s nothing fancy to look at; waiters, contrary to custom, tend to be polite; and without a celebrity backer, all you foodies in search of culinary treasures in Spain need to seek it out. Bar Roure is a true gem in the Spanish tapas crown.
C/ Lluís Antúnez, 7
08006 Barcelona, Spain
93 237 74 90