By Joe Ray
I’d wanted to come back here for years. I’d also been wondering where to have my last meal of the summer in Barcelona.
Appropriately, I went with my old lunch partner/landlord Fede who introduced me to Restaurant Montalban when I rented my Poble Sec apartment from him years ago.
All I wanted for this meal was to repeat the one I remembered, as it seemed the owner had made some sort of deal with the devil to make good seafood.
There is no disappointment.
We start with percebes - gooseneck barnacles - sugar sweet, wildly expensive, and looking like dinosaur toes, Montalban’s are made with a pinch of cinnamon in the court bouillon. To eat them, pinch the neck, pull out the sweet center, pop it in your mouth and wash it down with a Galician white and you, too, will be saying, “Money? What money???”
We follow with a plate of galician octopus that’s plump, tender, almost sweet and paprika smoky. Every time I eat this dish I like it more.
Barnacles and octopi, however, are sideshows compared with the real reason I want to return; I want the rodaballo. The turbot comes out crispy-chewy on the outside firm and flavorful on the inside. There’s a lemon, but there’s no reason to bother with it; this fish is worth a deal with the devil. My word - one taste and you wonder why anyone would bother with any other preparation.
You’ll pay for the pleasure, but Montalban is still a great value. As Fede says, “this place and Quimet & Quimet are the only places you’ll find people wearing suits in Poble Sec.”
Count on about 35 euros for lunch with wine. Sky’s the limit if you order percebes, but they’ll be worth it.
Bar-Restaurante Montalban “Casa Jose” - MAP
+34 93 442 31 43
Closed Sunday night and Monday.