If you live anywhere near Poble Nou, or like me are willing to undertake a little excursion to give your taste buds a treat, then there’s a new place down in Carrer Taulat offering inexpensive Asian tapas with an emphasis on unique flavours. Opened in July this year, Cal Cuc intriguingly blends a downmarket, child-friendly environment with exotic Asian tapas served up by friendly and helpful staff.
It is one more on the increasingly long list of popular Barcelona eating establishments run by English entrepreneur Giles “Jazz” Brown. These include the renowned Mosquito tapas bar in El Born’s Carrer Carders – famous for its dumplings, craft beers and queues into the street – a host of other Asian-themed eateries (see www.mosquitotapas.com for a full list and links at the bottom of the web page), the Drapaire craft beer bar in Carrer de les Sitges, and Wo Kitchen cooking school and event space in Carrer del Comerç.
For craft beer lovers, the restaurant boasts an eclectic local and international selection worth the visit alone, while also serving “natural” soft drinks and juices and a connoisseurs’ selection of teas. For parents looking to enjoy a meal out without constantly tending to young ones, there’s a conveniently positioned “kids space” along the main window looking out on to the terrace, where youngsters can sit and draw, play and/or eat at mini stools in full sight of their dining parents or carers.
Authentic and unique
As for the food, my wife doesn’t eat meat, so we went mainly veggie and seafood on this occasion. The takoyaki (fried octopus dumplings with mayo, seaweed and a spectacular sauce) was as authentic as you could wish, transporting me back some 25 years to my time in Japan when I would eat this delicious street food every Friday night before or after a hearty karaoke session. The seaweed salad, so ubiquitous in all Asian restaurants nowadays, was exquisite and unlike any I’ve tasted before, providing a welcome counterbalance to the fiery pork larb (the dish also has a tofu version), and the Thai mussels brought a unique flavour to a food so well known in these parts. Jazz tells me the latter two are the restaurant’s most popular dishes, keeping a stream of Glovo cyclists busy as they deliver them to people’s doors. Classic dishes such as kimchi, pork ribs and salt and pepper squid line up on the menu alongside lesser-known Asian delicacies – to me, at least ¨– such as the Chinese-themed mapo tofu (Szechuan-style) and aubergine bang bang (aubergine in a sesame sauce). For those curious to try something truly different there’s veggie gyoza and, for those brave enough, Taiwan-inspired oyster omelette.
Although we were far too full to manage one, the dessert menu consists of a range of Asian-flavoured ice creams and mochis. Meanwhile, prices are more than reasonable for tapas (no dish over €8), and the beer and wine prices are also right on the money.
In (another) new feature Barney Griffiths keeps us up-to-date with Barcelona’s numerous cocktail terraces
NEW HOTEL AMERICA BARCELONA LifeStyle
We spend a leisurely hour up on the bar terrace with the relaxing tunes of Buena Vista Social Club combining agreeably with the soothing alcohol of the cocktail and the dipping sun, as Matteo informs us the pace lifts later on when there is music - often a DJ or live performers, a sax soloist the most recent - into the small hours. The most surprising revelation is that during the day the terrace occupants are made up of 80% hotel guests and 20% locals, the hotel bar being open to allcomers, whereas those ratios switch at night as local residents take advantage of the bar’s rooftop location to escape the hustle and bustle of Eixample life and admire the night sky from this hidden oasis of calm. This also means that visitors to Barcelona get to mingle with locals, a feature Matteo tells us makes for a convivial atmosphere of strangers and groups of friends or colleagues joining together to enjoy a range of classic cocktails or new ones the innovative barstaff come up with on a regular basis.
Prices reflect the select setting and clientele, although do compare favourably with other rooftop cocktail terraces. Long drinks start at €10 for a gin and tonic, with cocktails generally priced at €12 and alcohol free versions at €8. Expect to pay €5 and upwards for other alcoholic and soft drinks, with wine, cava and champagne also available.
Setè Cel is open until 2.00 a.m. from Easter to mid-October.