A Barcelona food blog
As you wander the streets of Barceloneta, especially at the weekend, it’s difficult to ignore the constant indicators that people are enjoying eating. Through open café or restaurant doors and windows and from street front terraces you hear the animated chattering of voices, clattering of plates and cutlery being cleared, glasses being ‘clinked’ together as people say salut and inhale wafts of garlicky seafood that intermittently hit your nose. Every time I have this experience I say to myself that I must eat around here sometime, I just can’t believe it’s taken me so long.
With a visitor from home keen for a marine fix this seemed the perfect opportunity to have a taste of this barri. We thought we’d try out Can Maño on C/Baluard, just a short walk further along from Baluard bakery on the same street. As we arrived half an hour before closing at 11pm the place was thronged with customers and there were ourselves and others trying to get in. Noone, including us, seemed to be in the slightest bit put off by the aged decor, dusty, mishapen fans and menu boards which looked like they hadn’t been updated in 20 years.
Thankfully the framed reviews and a recent mention in the city’s Time Out magazine were more of the moment and indicated, as was evident from the throbbing atmosphere, that this place is still going strong. We hastily placed our order as the kitchen was closing and large plates of pa amb tomaquet, fried aubergines and chunky, hot chips arrived.
A 10€ bottle of Rioja was far less ropey than we anticipated. I also love drinking wine out of little beakers instead of the usual wine glasses and I also find I knock them over and break them much more infrequently.
Grilled sardines with garlic and parsley and a plate of straight out of the fryer calamar arrived and we got stuck in, although despite arriving so late we were left to enjoy our meal and not rushed to be out of the door again.
The sardines were perfectly cooked, the calamar soft not rubbery, being British the chips we couldn’t resist dowsing in vinegar. The aubergine for me was a little bland and on reflection we should have ordered a salad to balance all the fried components, however I have had terrible salad experiences here so always err on the side of caution. When we saw other diners receive theirs though they looked fresh and bright, not wilting and insipid as is often the case.
We finished with two coffees and I introduced my companion to hierbas, a Spanish liquor often drunk at the end of a meal and I enjoyed watching the middle aged waiter who was obviously tired from his shift, pause a minute, towel over his shoulder as he took a short descanso to watch a bit of television that was on low behind us.
If a swanky, modern setting is what you’re after then this is probably not your place, but if some large plates of fresh seafood and a glimpse of this fishing neighbourhood’s past is what you’re looking for then Can Maño will be a hit with you.
Can Maño, C/Baluard 12, Barceloneta