Friday 26 February 2010

Txapela, Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona

A big, bustling tapas bar on Barcelona's upmarket shopping street, Txapela manages to just about strike the right balance between luring in the tourists and retaining a modicum of authenticity. You can perch on one of the atmospheric stools around the bar, where you might find the draught from the wide open doors a bit much in winter, or take a more comfortable table upstairs.  When you sit down, you get a paper mat with small photos of the 51 tapas dishes, complete with prices (most cost between 1.4 and 2 euros). An accompanying English menu describes what they all are. From the bar, you can inspect the cold dishes in glass cabinets, rows of spirits bottles, a large wooden barrel and the hive of activity in the noisy open plan kitchen. Many of the dishes, which often include a piece of non-descript bread, can be a bit tired and dry. As a rule, the salmon and anchovy-based bites tend to be fresher and more appetising than the meaty snacks.  Pint-sized glasses of weak, but refreshing, Spanish beer cost 3.65 euros. The service is lively, but often inattentive and slow. Txapela doesn't have to work very hard to pull in the punters and it shows. 6/10