UPDATE MAY 2017: Cometacinc has closed permanently.
Barcelona Gothic Quarter bistro with old-fashioned charm and updated food
Review: Cometacinc restaurant, el Barri Gótic
The monumental wooden shutters and doors at Cometacinc are baffling, in more ways than one. They seem scaled to block out the blazing sunlight of a wide, open square, not that of a narrow mediaeval alleyway.
The doors, like the windows, are set in high arches, a grand and impressive entrance to the modestly sized interior of Cometacinc. What originally lay beyond them that required such height, one can only guess. Beyond them, it’s a classic Gotico bistro, with exposed bricks and beams, deliberately mismatched chairs and an overhanging balcony.
Cometacinc has been on the scene for over fifteen years now. Owned and run by charismatic Venezuelan Javier Fernández, it has seen the tourist tides ebb and flow, and food fashions change. It has endured thanks to its timeless charm; the restaurant is a casual, shady oasis (with a barrel-turned-table outside for sun-seekers or smokers) on a quiet side street. It doesn’t see much passing traffic, even in busy periods, despite its central location just around the corner from the beautiful Mercer hotel. A few stumble upon it, but most customers come here looking for it – or are persuaded to give it a try by Javier.
The restaurant’s newest chef, André Huerta, is garnering good reviews so I went to check out the changes. This Hoffman graduate with an impressive CV has overhauled the menu, adding some trendy twists and elevated the standard of the execution.
Price-wise, there’s a fantastic menú del día at €11 (drinks not included), tapas around the €5-€7 range and main courses for €14-€15. I was there to try a selection of a lot of dishes so André prepared smaller helpings than usual; the photos do not represent typical portion sizes.
The bread is home-made and organic.
The roast chicken croquettes are outstanding – order them even if they aren’t on the menu.
Ceviches are everywhere right now. I’m a bit sick of them already but there’s no point trying to fight these trends, you just have to let them pass. Those in Cometacinc are good: smoother and less acidic than usual but still very fresh.
Then a mini-taster of the tosta de sobresada. Good sobresada plus thyme and a drizzle of honey, a simple but effective combo.
Then a couple of dishes being prepared as new additions to the menu. First, red mullet with pine nuts and aubergines. It was delicious, but then I rate red mullet as one of the best fish you can eat. The mar i muntanaya notes from the savoury sauce worked well here.
Then tender, tasty pork ribs with a soy-based sauce and mashed potatoes.
And a cheesecake-in-a-glass with a toothcracking but terriffic layer of nut crumble.
Cometacinc’s a great little place with an enthusiastic owner and a talented chef. If I had to criticize, I’d say that while all the food is very well executed, it lacks a single, strong identity. Instead of tying the menu to the mast of fashion (Asian sauces, ceviches etc.) and trying to sail with those winds, I think the restaurant is good enough, and should be confident enough, to chart its own course. It is at its best when serving dishes that have deep traditional roots.
That said, everything I ate was very good. But on certain well-known online review sites, you’ll see quite a few bad reviews – not just subjectively critical but factually incorrect. Why? Well this is the downside of anonymous review websites. In many parts of Barcelona there are online ‘review wars’ waged by unscrupulous owners of competing establishments. The Barri Gotic is one of those places. Read such reviews with extreme skepticism.
Cometacinc serves quality, market-based cuisine to a high standard in a friendly and pleasant atmosphere at a reasonable price. Recommended.