by Truly Malin
New York, New York
November 20, 2002
Admittedly, the antique-filled interior set in a renovated 19th century stable has considerable charm. Set on a narrow and clearly ancient street, the building itself exudes European charm. Inside, the rickety metal spiral staircase leading up to the second floor was as delightfully dated as it was alarmingly precarious. The ladies room ("water closet" really would be a more accurate term in this case) was hunched into a corner of the building that obviously pre-dated plumbing. And perhaps most importantly, the preposterously inexpensive house rose (Flor de Raim, Conca de Barbera) did not disappoint. So far, so good.
But oh, dear ... the food! Perhaps Wendy and I just ordered the wrong things. Pla de la Garsa is known for their pate and vast selection of French cheeses, neither of which we sampled. But they are also famous for their beef bourgignonne, which Wendy ordered and could barely choke down three bites. It consisted of a school lunch room-style plastic bowl filled with chunks of greyish meat, swimming in a sauce containing more cooking grease than anything else. Our salad appetizers prominently featured canned vegetables and very little fresh lettuce, which is particularly shocking in a city where every meal we had eaten to date included bountiful heaps of just-picked lettuce and vibrant vegetables bursting with color and flavor. My raclette (fondue) was foul-smelling and dappled with pools of viscous-looking oil. Although the accompanying bread basket was piled high with tasty morsels of bread, I couldn’t bring myself to sample more than a few bites.
All of the above was served by waiters who would have looked more at home in a college dorm, right down to their ripped corduroys and long, greasy hair. Honestly, we would have had a better meal with more atmosphere at Medieval Times. I was surprised they even allowed us to use silverware! So if you’re looking for some authentic Catalan ambiance, have a walk by the building, but don’t go in unless you’re planning on having nothing but a cheese platter and a big carafe of rose!
From journal Barcelona: Where Old Meets New