Category Archives: Spain

Arcano Restaurant – dining within ancient Roman walls

ArcanoBar-Restaurante Arcano
C/Mercaders, 10
La Ribera – Born

There is nothing nicer than to feel at home in your neighborhood, and for our visit to Barcelona, that neighborhood is the Barrio Gótico, or Gothic Quarter, occupying the area that was once the Roman settlement of Barcino.  There are remnants of the walled portion of the ancient Roman colony to be sene still today.  One place is the very inviting Restaurante Arcano, where the ancient stones of Rome make up the walls of this softly lit restaurant.  Coming in from the bright sunshine of Barcelona on a June day, it is especially pleasant to dine in the cool shadows of ancient stone, in a space that is, at the same time, warm and welcoming. 

Arcano offers a very tasty fixed menu at lunch time, which is known as the Menú del Mercado.  We see no reason to stray from the daily specials, although their regular menu is extensive, offering an array of temptations, including Argentinean beef. I choose the salad with goat cheese and apricot jam, while my husband selects the chickpeas sautéed with butifarra negra, or “black sausage,” a very typical dish in Catalan cuisine that is based on the ancient recipes of a Roman sausage.  Arcano’s version contains nuts, dried fruits and herbs and is very flavourful.  We follow with a meat dish and a plate of sea bass, both excellent. 

Over a dessert of coconut cake with apples and walnuts, we plan our afternoon.  Within walking distance are the exquisite Gothic Cathedral, known as La Seu, and the simpler, yet evocative Santa Maria del Mar.  Both merit a second visit.  And there is the Picasso Museum.  After all, this is the part of the city where this great artist lived and worked.  Not surprising that he would choose this quarter – it is still a neighborhood of designers, painters and artisans.

Arcano - Huevos Estrellados WEB Arcano - EntrecoteArgentino WEB Arcano - Ensalada de Cabra WEB


All content on, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.





Casa Calvet – More than just fine dining

CC1Restaurant Casa Calvet
C/ Casp, 48
(+34) 93 412 40 12

Located in the Eixample district of Barcelona, one of the most elegant sections of the city, Casa Calvet was designed by famed modernist architect Antoni Gaudi in 1899.  One of the more conventional of his works, this building was designed for the textile industrialist Pere Màrtir Calvet as a family residence, with the ground floor and basement to serve as space for his business.  Unlike many of Gaudi’s other designs, the façade strikes a balance between spaces of smooth stone and decorative ornamentation.  The curves and double gable at the top, and the bulging balconies are hallmarks of Gaudi’s architectural projects.  The entrance is flanked by columns in the form of stacked bobbins – a reference to the family’s textile business.

Casa Calvet dining roomIts interior is equally noteworthy and we are privileged today to dine in the restaurant, allowing us to experience rooms that were, up until now, strictly private.  The dining area is striking, preserving original elements of the interior, such as the double benches along the wall that provide intimacy for diners.  The original rich wood panel-enclosed work spaces have been converted into areas for more private dinner parties.  A large art nouveau stained glass window gives the room its muted lighting, perfect for lunchtime dining.  Oriental carpets offer warmth to this elegant interior, offering the feeling that one has been invited into an aristocratic home to partake in an exquisitely planned luncheon.

The daily luncheon menu is what we follow and why not?  Each of Chef Miguel Alija’s creations is tempting and he whets our appetite by sending small amuse-bouches to our table.  I have a trio of crispy gorgonzola treats with black olives and tomatoes while Mike starts with a pigeon and black sausage appetizer.  The tender veal entrée with cheese sauce and vegetable ravioli is rich and full of flavor, while the hake prepared with steamed fresh vegetables is light and equally satisfying.  For dessert, we both agree that the “light” chocolate tart with hazelnut cream and a unique Earl Grey Tea ice cream is the thing to order.  And just in case we should need a sweet encore, Chef Alija sends a chilled banana pudding with chocolate sauce.  A perfect lunch.  Light and satisfying in a relaxed and elegant home, fuelling us to continue our exploration of this vibrant city, and discovering more of the genius of Gaudi.

Casa Calvet - crujiente WEBCasa Calvet - pastel de choco WEB


All content on, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.


Tablao Cordobes – unleashed passion in Barcelona

Tablao CordobesTablao Cordobés
Ramblas, 35
08002 Barcelona

Our table overlooks the Ramblas, Barcelona’s most famous boulevard, and we watch a parade of visitors and locals stroll up and down, side-stepping the makeshift shops of souvenirs being sold on the pavement while being entertained by the most ingenious mimes one could hope to see.  Although of newer construction, the décor of the Tablao Cordobes interior is quietly reminiscent of a Moorish palace, much like the Alhambra in Granada, built during the Nasrid period in the 14th century – with arched niches and decorative Islamic stucco work covering the walls. 

TC5The food is decidedly Spanish and very good.  Dinner is served buffet style, making it difficult to choose and a challenge not to overindulge.  The buffet would not disappoint a vegetarian; the meat-lover will leave here satisfied, and I do believe the seafood-lover will find himself in paradiso.  We sample a little of everything while enjoying a frosty pitcher of Sangria. 

Above the lively conversations in the dining room, I hear a rhythmic clapping and burst of heels hammering the wooden floor of a nearby room where performers are in the throes of their flamenco routine.  It reaches a crescendo and fades again beneath a blanket of guitar music.  My pulse quickens; although I cannot see or really hear the dancers – I can feel something stir in me.    My own excitement!


One of the most important Flamenco restaurants in the world, Tablao Cordobes has been hosting visitors to Barcelona for four decades, offering an evening of dining and flamenco that one will not soon forget.  When our dinner has ended we are ushered into an intimate space, a recreation of an Andalusian vaulted cellar hall, where a small stage is raised in front of a simple background painted to simulate an outdoor village scene.  This is not the setting for a performance with frilly, ruffled dance costumes and special effects lighting.  It is an invitation to see and experience extemporaneous and traditional Flamenco in its most authentic form.  Although these are renowned artists performing for us, the audience is invited to appreciate a group of singers, guitarists, and dancers who appear more like close friends who have met for an evening of music and dance – not actors that have rehearsed a performance.  It is an intimate unveiling of their inner souls through voice and movement.  Reflections of raw emotion.  A dance of unleashed passion!  An experience that should not be missed!



All content on, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.