Choosing a restaurant at 11.15pm on a Friday night when you have to meet friends a short time later and haven’t looked at the menu should’ve been warning signs that this meal might be a disaster.
On the surface it appeared to be an acceptable choice considering we were in a rush. The restaurant was pretty full and the staff were initially welcoming. But that’s where the good points end.
Our table near the kitchen gave us a clear view of one of the chefs impatiently tapping the counter as we perused the menu and waited for our drinks. It became clear that he must’ve been about to start the end of evening clean up when my slightly merry friend and I tipped up wanting to be fed.
My starter of catalan tomato bread with anchovies was nothing special, it filled a gap whilst I waited for my calamares, although the anchovies could’ve be better drained of their oil before being laid across my bread. My companion’s mussels a la plancha however had been purged of any ocean flavour due to them being drowned in the sunflower oil that the agitated chef had felt the need to pour over them whilst on the grill. Either that or it was the remnants of the evening’s cooking oil which chef had been about to scrub off the grill before our arrival.
As our main course arrived we realised that things weren’t going to improve. My anaemic looking rings of tepid calamares sat on a paper doily without any garnish and the baby lamb ribs chosen by my friend must’ve come from a poor animal whose owner hadn’t fed it for months, the ribs resembling skeletal fingers. After digesting three rings of calamares purely out of ravenous hunger I decided to fill myself with the bread and wine and accept the fact that the rum and cokes to follow in the bar were going to go straight to my head, whilst my friend attempted to scrape a taste of lamb off the ribs and filled a gap with the limp chips and raw tomato that accompanied them.
We didn’t stick around for coffee or dessert and luckily my friend’s company’s expense account picked up the bill, which did go some way to alleviating the huge disappointment of this meal.
I have researched this restaurant a little since our visit and have been surprised to find it has some good reviews, maybe we just hit unlucky, but I won’t be risking giving it a second chance.
Els Ocellets, Ronda Sant Pau 55 (Sant Antoni) – Smoking permitted