Bar Restaurante Cal Xose S.L., Barcelona.

Today OH and I had one of our most bizarre eating experiences to date. We were walking back towards our apartment in Barcelona looking for somewhere to eat. I was hungry, tired and getting annoyed because we couldn’t find anything except fast food outlets and bars that only served tapas. Therefore, when I spotted a restaurant across the road I decided we were eating there regardless.

We went in and asked if we could take a table. The woman asked in broken English if we wanted tapas when we said no she showed us a menu paper clipped inside a laminated menu. In near perfect Spanish I asked for a bottle of house red whilst we decided what we wanted (I can do this like a pro now because I’ve been practising all week). When she returned with the wine she saw that we were looking at the laminated menu which had all the stuff I fancied on it so she quickly pointed to the paper one and I think she said something like “this is the menu for today. It’s only me in the kitchen so I can’t do everything. Just order from that menu.” She then took the wine away with her. With hindsight I think she maybe thought we would walk away and she didn’t want to open it just in case.

There were a few things on the menu I wasn’t very sure of so the next time the waitress hovered I asked her to explain one of them. By playing charades I discovered that Galta was pig’s cheek. I decided to quit whilst I was ahead and chose something I already recognised.

From what I could make out from the menu with my very bad Spanish was that there was a set menu and I could chose a starter and a main. Listed in the starters were spaghetti bolognese and cannelloni in amongst salads and salted cod. I reckoned these must have been tapas size. OH decided to go to the loo and when he was away the waitress came over to take our order. As he had already told me what he wanted I ordered him the spaghetti bolognese and the steak with garnish. I had the cannelloni and Catalan sausage with potatoes. She did point out it was only 1 cannelloni and I told her I was more than happy with that. After she took our order she returned with a basket of bread and then a couple of minutes later returned again with the wine.

As we waited a tramp holding a sleeping bag came in, changed over some money and then bought cigarettes from the machine before leaving. It looked like he did this regularly as no-one batted an eyelid.

Roughly 10 minutes later a chap appeared with a bowl of pickles and said something rapidly in Spanish. I smiled, shrugged and apologised for only knowing English. His face said it all as his head went into his hands and he struggled to find the words. From what we could make out the cannelloni was taking ages as the cheese needed to melt on the top so the pickles were to help us wait.

We had only just started munching on the pickles when our starters arrived. We were both astonished. I’ve been served less as a main course before. So much for 1 cannelloni – there were three and OH’s spag bol was a proper serving of it.

My cannelloni was good although the sauce was a little thin and I could see the oil in OH’s Bolognese. Regardless we tucked in and wondered why we had ordered starters. I finished mine before OH and told him not to finish his as it wasn’t a challenge and he needed to leave room for his steak. He ignored me and soldiered on. Before he finished his steak arrived. Yes! The waitress brought over our main meals as he was still eating. Even with his steak staring at him he continued with the spag bol until it was gone. He was actually making me feel a bit queasy the way he was putting it all away.

A quick swap of plates and he was onto his second course. It turned out the garnish with his steak was chips and my Catalan sausage was about a foot long, cut in half and fried on both sides. It also came with just chips.

The sausage was pretty run of the mill and OH’s steak was alright (I just asked him how it was and that’s what he said).

However, the totally unbelievable bit was when I asked for the bill. It came to 22€.  Yes, you read that right 22€. I asked her if she had forgotten to add the wine but no she had.

That means that for 4 main meals, bread, pickles and a pretty good bottle of Rioja the bill was £17.50.

It was definitely a meal I will never forget but don’t bother hunting it out if you’re visiting Barcelona.

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