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. 

Mine was
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.

Mine was
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.

Mine was
Flam de la casa amb nata

A custard mound was topped with whipped cream and an excellent caramel.

The dining room had mostly filled up by the time we left.

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.


5 Responses to “Els 4 Gats, Barcelona”

  1. ojile Says:

    When Galen and I were in Barcelona years ago, the restaurant was closed for several days. But we did go to a wonderful place called Cal Pep, down toward the older part of town and recently excavated Roman ruins of a market. The small restaurant opened promptly at 12 noon and dish after dish of fresh seafood, incl. The best razor clams I had to date, were served.
    Sorry to have missed Gats.

    • Michael Says:

      Cal Pep is very popular now. We understand there is usually a line and we didn’t go.

      • ojile Says:

        Yes, it was popular then, too. We waited in the playa and suddenly at Noon the door was opened and all these patrons came out of nowhere and descended upon the (rather small) place. We were warned and it was worth the wait.

  2. Blair Says:

    This reminds me of the cafés and tapas bars I frequented when I studied in Granada.

    I knew the dish you liked as Fideua not Fideus, I wonder what the difference is. No matter what you call it that is good eats!

    • Michael Says:

      While this used to be a café and cabaret, it is a real restaurant now, not a tapas bar. If you look at the menu above, you will see that under the Catalan Fideus, the Spanish is shown as Fideuá.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.