High on my list of things to avoid is meat and fish from a can, so it comes as a bit of a surprise for me to say that my most memorable food experience in Barcelona was at Quimet y Quimet, a bar where instead of somebody standing over a hot stove sautéing a duck breast or chopping fresh peppers, there is a man standing at the counter opening cans of food and assembling hundreds of little open sandwiches each day. Canned products are usually associated with inferiority, however the quality of the products used here is so high that the canning almost enhances the flavours and textures. Located on Carrer de Poeta Cabanyes, this tiny (and I do mean tiny) bar gets packed quickly with both tourists and locals, so it pays to get there early. We decided to have an early lunch (by Spanish standards) so that we could get a prime position at the bar, where we could watch the master as he prepared each dish.
Quimet y Quimet is a family owned bar and has been with the Quim family for multiple generations. The menu has a section of montanditos, or little open sandwiches, each costing a mere 2.50 to 3 Euros. On little pieces of bread, the man at the bar would craft little pieces of art with cheeses, meats, seafood and other condiments, all perfectly balanced and presented so well.
Quimet y Quimet also serves other tapas, most of them ranging in price from 1 to 5 Euros, however there are a few that cost a bit more due to the expensive products used. We started with the pork cheek, which was served at room temperature with a side of crispy chips. I loved every mouthful, and go as far as to say that it was my favourite dish of the day. The meat was so tender and fell apart at the slightest touch, and the flavour quite extraordinary. The thought of pork in a can would have disgusted me before I tried this dish, however now I find myself craving that same pork from a can as I write this.
Walking around Spain I had seen many restaurants and markets with razor clams, however was yet to try them. I decided to order them here, and must say that they weren’t the most attractive little morsels that I had seen. Looks aside, the clams were nice and had a texture similar to cooked calamari, however I enjoyed them much more with the side serving of bread that we ordered.
The leek with caviar was another impressive dish, made from such simple ingredients but delivering so much punch. The leeks were soft yet maintained some bite, and the caviar just made it a little bit more special.
When I’m at restaurants and bars, the drink that I usually default to is red wine. In Barcelona I found myself defaulting to the locally made cava, however on this day, for some reason that I can’t explain, I decided to order a glass of beer instead. Out came a glass of a beer much darker than I’d normally enjoy, so I was starting to kick myself for not just getting the usual cava. I must say, though, I had never enjoyed such a dark beer so much, and it paired so well with the food. I later found out that it was a house beer brewed by the Quim family, which just impressed me even more.
Finally, of course, there is dessert, of which we ordered two. The first was a montadito with cream, chestnuts, chocolate and shaved egg yolk. It was an incredible dessert and so perfectly balanced with the quantity of each ingredient. The second was a plate of biscuits with a shot of sweet wine. It was nice, but not as exciting as the chestnut montadito.
Quimet y Quimet should be high on any food traveller’s list of must-visit places in Barcelona. The prices are very reasonable, the food is tasty, and the concept is just different. I think that is what I enjoyed about this place so much – it is so different to any other place I had eaten at before. This will be on my list of regular lunch bars for next time I visit Barcelona.