Bar Catalina

Posted on October 31, 2021


It seems lately, I experience more things that compels me to share.

Running low on Spanish olive oil, Carbonell, I decided to go to Rincon de Espana up at Lakeshore Rd. It’s the only place where I find groceries that my best friend who lives in Barcelona, Manel, uses at reasonable prices. As it was more than 30 minutes drive for me, I thought I bundle it with a late lunch and window-shopping at Port Credit. Scouring google maps, my eye caught Bar Catalina. Looking at their menu, my afternoon became a tribute to Barcelona.

For anyone close and dined with me, they will know that I have a lot of affection for Barcelona comfort foods. Bar Catalina got me all excited as I went up and down their menu. A lot of it were tapas and different paellas options I always see when I am in Barcelona. Some of them I ate as snacks and some I eat for lunch or dinner. It is good to note that while they are open from Tuesdays to Sundays, they are open early for lunch from Fridays to Sunday. On a whim, I quickly reserved a table and drove to the location with much anticipation. On my drive, I was bewildered what I will be ordering as there was much in the list that I want to try. I keep on changing my combinations every 5 minutes or so.

I walked in the restaurant long past the lunch hour and I felt right at home with the notes of coziness everywhere, including Spanish tiles and different sizes of paelleras that adorn the walls. It wasn’t lost on me how they brought in beers (Estrella Damm) and even sparkling water brands (Vichy) in. I have the whole restaurant to myself and I got to choose a good table by the window and I finally decided to ignore the shame of over-ordering food. I went for pan con tomate, papatas bravas and Rosejat Negro (fideaua noodles in squid ink) and my trusty Diet Coke. All I need is to imagine the sandy beaches and the whiff of salty air and I am in Barcelona.

The pan con tomate and patatas bravas arrived first as expected. I went for the pan con tomate first and bit in. Despite the overload of shredded tomatoes, the bread was still crispy and firm, no sogginess mush. It was lip-smacking delicious and fresh. The patatas bravas up next also did not disappoint. It was crispy on the outside and soft in the inside with a good dash of aioli on it.

Two dishes down, I was happily savouring the two as I wait for the fideaua. A couple walks in and asked for a table for six. As soon as all of their friends arrived, I understood that they were all Catalans as another couple walks in and one of them greets the other two with a booming “Bom Dia!” greeting. The last two friends walked in and finally completes their party and it was full animation of happy reunion on the other table. Little did they know that they completed the whole ambiance for me. When I hear fast Catalan spoken and one responds “vale, vale….(pronounced as bah-leh) or with an passionate “si, si, si!”, I am reminded of hearty and delicious meals I shared with Manel and his family.

The fideaua arrives and I could already tell from the look of it that it was going to be delicious. As I look at the thin layer of noodles perfectly cooked, I was starting to regret finishing two pan con tomates. There was the feeling of bubbling giddiness as I finally tasted it and realized that they stayed true to what a good fideaua should be. Sometimes, it’s in the simplicity that makes a dish elegant. I finally found a place that stays true to what a comfort food should be.

I should say that I didn’t get to finish the dish as all three dishes I ordered were all carbo-loaded. Gives me a valid excuse to come back to try other dishes. I want to come back to try the paella version, croquetas and jamon. I shamelessly tried to influence for the server to suggest xoricets in their menu. I will cross my fingers that they consider it. Maybe the second time around, I’ll bring a friend so I have enough space to get dessert which includes churros with a chocolate dip. :)