I've long had a liking for Spanish wines and, although it's based on no great learning, I know what I like and I like the wines at Monvínic very much indeed. Not that you'll only find Spanish wines here. Their copious cellar houses several thousand bottles from all over the world, and a reference library satisfies the most discerning oenophile. But a visit last week confirmed that's not all this stylish temple to viniculture is about.
Taking in the leather apron-clad sommelier/greeters behind the desk, the copper ceiling, low lighting and pony-skin seating in the bar area we did wonder on entering whether our wallets could stand the heat. Being handed a digital wine list, initially, didn't help but a quick run-through by Ramiro allayed our fears. Starting at under 20 Euros a bottle, and with around 50 wines served by the glass, for us this proved the best way to make discoveries at Monvínic. The wines on offer are constantly changing, to the point where a second glass of the one you just enjoyed may not be available. We were determined to stick to local Catalan wines so sampled a lovely crisp, dry Castellroig DO Penedès 2010. We followed up with Portal del Montsant DO Brunus 2009, a Carignan, Grenache, Syrah blend which was blackberries in a glass, for me. Finally a gorgeous, honeyed orange with white-pepper 2007 Moscat from Emporda in the North-East adjoining the French border
|Loin of Veal|
As good as the wines are here's where it gets even more interesting. A low-lit cosy bar opens out into a sparse glass-walled dining room. You can eat in either according to how you feel. A Menu del dia of 3 courses for 20 Euros including mineral water and one glass of wine was on offer. OK, so the day before we had eaten for 12 Euros, but this was in an altogether different league.
A bowl of Onion soup was presented with an egg gently poaching in the heat of the stock. A sweet/savoury and comforting introduction which we were glad we had both ordered. Next, for me, Mediterranean Rockfish with Orzo pasta. A dish which relied on exceptionally good fish stock, and this certainly came up to the mark. A just-cooked prawn topped the dish off. For N, a dish of tender and tasty Loin of veal with a lovely, sticky veal jus. Pudding was a choice of Creme Caramel or a cream-filled choux pastry with candied fruits and pine nuts and a slick of sweet wine with a quenelle of goat's cheese ice cream alongside.
|Choux pastry dessert|
You can spend a lot at Monvínic, if you're so inclined. With a total of three glasses of moderately-priced wine, mineral water and coffee our lunch bill came to 52 Euros for a stunningly good lunch. With Sommeliers like Isabelle and Ramiro providing exactly the sort of service you want, this is definitely where I'll be heading next time I'm in Barcelona.
Tel: +34 932 726 187
UPDATE: Revisited March 2014: New chef. Food easily as good as I remember. Still offer this great value lunch - 3 courses for 22 Euros.
|Tortilla Monvinic style|