Seafood and sea views from a stylish restaurant on Barcelona’s Somorrostro beach.
Bestial‘s most obvious strength is its location (Ramon Trias Fargas 2-4, 08005, Barcelona; Tel. (+34) 932 240 407, Metro Ciutadella-Villa Olímpica, closed Monday lunch). Its multi-level garden terrace looks out over Somorrostro beach. There, on the golden sand, Barcelona’s beautiful people play volleyball before frolicking in the Mediterranean. Yachts sail in and out of the Port Olimpic harbour next door and Frank Gehry’s Peix sculpture looms above.
It is, in short, a pleasant place to sit.
Sadly, such places are usually tourist traps where the food is either overpriced or deeply disappointing. I am happy to report that this is not the case at Bestial.
When I visited in late April, the night was warm but there was a stiff breeze so we chose to eat inside (hence no photos, sorry). The restaurant is stylish and spacious; tables are well-separated, not crammed together to maximize profit-per-square-metre. In the summer season it converts to a nightclub at midnight. It’s the kind of place beloved by professional football players and other sporting stars – but don’t let that put you off.
At lunchtimes there is a menú del día for €17. Otherwise, snacks range from €2-€17.50, starters from €9-€15, and most main courses are around €18. Wine by the glass is €3-€4.50.
We began with some snacks. The restaurant caters to a lot of events on its terrace and this is what it typically serves.
The gorgonzola croquetas and ham croquetas were absolutely fine but the endless croquette exposure that has accompanied having kids has killed my ability to raise any enthusiasm for cheesey balls. The fried fish was fresh, the acorn-fed bellota cured ham was quality, and the coca breads with marinated anchovies and caramelized onion truly excellent.
Bestial offers a choice of three baked fish a day as main courses and presents the uncooked fish to you first – always a good sign. The wild pagro (seabream) looked good so we ordered it.
First though, we had clams with tomato, basil and – allegedly– chili (€14). They were fresh but a little bland; if I’m promised chili, I want to taste chili not just a faint trace of it.
Salmorejo topped with quail’s egg, ham and apple (€9) was refreshing and summery.
The best, however, was yet to come. Baked bream (though usually of the gilt-head variety) with potato and tomato is a local home cooking staple. I regularly make it myself. It is also the kind of dish that Barcelona restaurants SHOULD serve, and do well, but usually don’t. Bestial’s was just right. Mainly boned but with the head still on (to get at those all-important cheeks and other fleshy delicacies), it was presented still in the pan on a bed of wonderful, garlicky, waxy potatoes. There’s more than enough for two to share but be prepared to duel with forks as you fight over the best bits. I can think of few things better after a day on the beach.
The desserts (apple tart and vanilla ice cream; cheesecake) kept the standard up.
I then headed outside to brave the breeze for a brandy and cigar on the terrace, where we watched people still playing on the moonlit beach. Bestial surprised me. I had half-expected it to be mediocre or, at best, competent but uninspired. Instead, the owners have taken the smart decision to leave sophistication to the designer and the customers, and stick instead to simplicity in the kitchen. Despite the attractive terrace, the restaurant isn’t as garish as some of its neighbours but passing tourists who notice it will find the perfect place for a straightforward supper. We were staying in the five-star Hotel Arts, which is just metres away, and saw quite a few fellow guests happily tucking in. The cocktail crowd on Bestial’s terrace may cultivate coolness but the restaurant offers no-nonsense dining with a wide appeal.