Els 4 Gats, Barcelona
April 3, 2012
Opening in 1897, Els 4 Gats was a center of modernism. Artistic and literary leaders of Barcelona gathered at the café to drink, eat, socialize, debate and enjoy the cabaret. Pablo Picasso was a regular and had his two first one-man shows there in 1900. Antoni Gaudí was another regular.
Els 4 Gats closed in 1903. After democracy returned to Spain, it was restored and reopened as a restaurant in 1978. Linda and I walked there for lunch on February 8, 2012, after our visit to the Picasso Museum.
From its 10h00 opening until the 01h00 closing the front room is a café serving coffee, beer, snacks etc.
At 13h00, when we arrived, the dining room (in the back right above) opens for lunch. We were warmly welcomed and seated promptly. I understand that is not always the case as Els 4 Gats attracts many tourists and the staff must try to decide who is a serious customer and who just wants a snack and a look around etc. It also has many local regulars to consider.
The cuisine is traditional Catalan. There were à la carte selections and a lunch menu of the day, in Catalan with Spanish translations.
The little letters in the bottom left mean that bread, wine and water are included. They were put on the table and one could help oneself to however much one wanted.
Linda’s first course was
Ous estrellats amb patates i xoriço.
She wrote that the eggs fried in olive oil in combination with potatoes and not-too-spicy chorizo sausage were a welcome, warm starter on a cold day.
Fideus rossos de sípia amb oli de nyores.
Thin short noodles are toasted in olive oil until they are golden. Then cooked in a seafood stock until they absorb all the liquid. They are finished with the oil of a local pepper. On top was a piece of poached squid with an orange sauce I could not identify. This dish was delicious. I understand that it is a well known Catalan dish; I noticed that many people were ordering it.
Linda’s second was
Bacallà a la Catalana
She wrote that the salt cod was a good local choice, very well prepared and not salty. It was covered with stewed onions and tomatoes.
Xai a la graella amb patata al caliui i allioli.
Lamb had been slow cooked, sliced and then grilled. It was served with oven roasted potatoes and a garlic mayonnaise which made the dish interesting.
Linda’s dessert was
Poma al forn.
The apple had been baked with a vanilla bean inside. It was a light, tasty dessert.
Flam de la casa amb nata
A custard mound was topped with whipped cream and an excellent caramel.
Our lunch was enjoyable and just right for the occasion. Traditional Catalan recipes had been used with a little updating. My noodle dish was particularly good. The menu is more elaborate in the evening. The service, pace and noise level were all fine.
This is the cover of the menu:
It was designed by Pablo Picasso in 1900, when he was 18.
And here is the placemat:
This is a rendering of the painting by Ramon Casals which we saw the next day in the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. There is a reproduction of it in the bar which you can see in the second photo from the top above. Casals founded Els 4 Gats along with another Catalan aritist, Pere Romeu, who acted as host at the bar. The lighthearted painting shows the two of them on a tandem bike.